Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stop Drugging Your Kids!

Ritalin Gone Wrong

 THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning.

But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled?

In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.

As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.

Attention-deficit drugs increase concentration in the short term, which is why they work so well for college students cramming for exams. But when given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side effects, including stunting growth.

Sadly, few physicians and parents seem to be aware of what we have been learning about the lack of effectiveness of these drugs.

What gets publicized are short-term results and studies on brain differences among children. Indeed, there are a number of incontrovertible facts that seem at first glance to support medication. It is because of this partial foundation in reality that the problem with the current approach to treating children has been so difficult to see.

Back in the 1960s I, like most psychologists, believed that children with difficulty concentrating were suffering from a brain problem of genetic or otherwise inborn origin. Just as Type I diabetics need insulin to correct problems with their inborn biochemistry, these children were believed to require attention-deficit drugs to correct theirs. It turns out, however, that there is little to no evidence to support this theory.

In 1973, I reviewed the literature on drug treatment of children for The New England Journal of Medicine. Dozens of well-controlled studies showed that these drugs immediately improved children’s performance on repetitive tasks requiring concentration and diligence. I had conducted one of these studies myself. Teachers and parents also reported improved behavior in almost every short-term study. This spurred an increase in drug treatment and led many to conclude that the “brain deficit” hypothesis had been confirmed.

But questions continued to be raised, especially concerning the drugs’ mechanism of action and the durability of effects. Ritalin and Adderall, a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, are stimulants. So why do they appear to calm children down? Some experts argued that because the brains of children with attention problems were different, the drugs had a mysterious paradoxical effect on them.

However, there really was no paradox. Versions of these drugs had been given to World War II radar operators to help them stay awake and focus on boring, repetitive tasks. And when we reviewed the literature on attention-deficit drugs again in 1990 we found that all children, whether they had attention problems or not, responded to stimulant drugs the same way. Moreover, while the drugs helped children settle down in class, they actually increased activity in the playground. Stimulants generally have the same effects for all children and adults. They enhance the ability to concentrate, especially on tasks that are not inherently interesting or when one is fatigued or bored, but they don’t improve broader learning abilities.

And just as in the many dieters who have used and abandoned similar drugs to lose weight, the effects of stimulants on children with attention problems fade after prolonged use. Some experts have argued that children with A.D.D. wouldn’t develop such tolerance because their brains were somehow different. But in fact, the loss of appetite and sleeplessness in children first prescribed attention-deficit drugs do fade, and, as we now know, so do the effects on behavior. They apparently develop a tolerance to the drug, and thus its efficacy disappears. Many parents who take their children off the drugs find that behavior worsens, which most likely confirms their belief that the drugs work. But the behavior worsens because the children’s bodies have become adapted to the drug. Adults may have similar reactions if they suddenly cut back on coffee, or stop smoking.

TO date, no study has found any long-term benefit of attention-deficit medication on academic performance, peer relationships or behavior problems, the very things we would most want to improve. Until recently, most studies of these drugs had not been properly randomized, and some of them had other methodological flaws.

But in 2009, findings were published from a well-controlled study that had been going on for more than a decade, and the results were very clear. The study randomly assigned almost 600 children with attention problems to four treatment conditions. Some received medication alone, some cognitive-behavior therapy alone, some medication plus therapy, and some were in a community-care control group that received no systematic treatment. At first this study suggested that medication, or medication plus therapy, produced the best results. However, after three years, these effects had faded, and by eight years there was no evidence that medication produced any academic or behavioral benefits.



Boruch said...

Drugs replaced television as the go to babysitter and replacement for parenting. All the parenting skills classes and all the therapists (by the way, break up that word into two syllables and is it a karmic coincidence or a telling reality?) lend themselves to the drugs are the only way to give a parent piece of mind. To my mind the problem is that we want our kids to be perfect little adults just the way we deluded ourselves into believing that we were. We weren't don't worry. Let your kids be kids.

Fallsburg said...

Is nothing sacred anymore?

First Pinny Lipschutz's Yated that was a stalwart against Lubavitch messianism completely loosened up after the deaths of Rav Schach & Pinny's uncle R' Elya Svei. Today the Yated is so pro-Lubavitch that that Chabad has not only lifted their cherem of the paper to allow it to be sold in all the stores they control but the Lubavitch media actively excerpts from it. You could say becoming the best new found friend of Lubavitch has it's rewards $$$.

Pinny always steered clear of anything that had to with Tropper but this week that barrier has been broken as well. The Yated had a photo spread of the hanochas tefillin for the son of Rabbi Barros in the Fallsburg shul, as if Barros is some notable adam gadol in Klal Yisroel. Tropper engineered the expulsion of the previous rov to install his prize talmid Barros as his surrogate to actively to do kiruv on all the intermarried couples in the Catskills. And since millions of dollars were flowing in for this "lofty" purpose, this "tradition" has been continued by R' Elya Ber who does not want to see all that money go to waste.

Anonymous said...


David Rubin, chairman of the board of Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Hancock Park and president of YULA (Yeshiva University Los Angeles) girls’ high school, pleaded guilty in federal court in New York on Dec. 30 to wire conspiracy and fraud involving proceeds from municipal bonds. Beverly Hills-based CDR Financial Products, which Rubin founded and runs, pleaded guilty to related antitrust charges.

Rubin, 50, could face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. CDR could face a fine of $100 million. Rubin will be sentenced April 27.

You heard it first on UOJ said...


UOJ: "Pinto is a con - period!"

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Avromi David, who is not same person as R' Hillel's rosh kollel son in Seattle, was working as a lawyer in Manhattan. He was running an illegal immigration mill and charging as much as $30,000 to provide green cards for aliens who don't qualify. When he sensed the FBI was closing in, he escaped to Canada 4 or 5 years ago where his alter zaydas were Rebbes there of Bais Strettin. He became the rov of a shul in Downtown Toronto. A lot of things about the story didn't add up so I decided to look into it. The shul is officially orthodox but does not seem to have any frum members. A Toronto Sun newspaper investigation revealed that David was living with a Mexican woman in a NJ apt who is probably not Jewish.


He was arrested by Toronto Police around Yamim Noyraim and just extradited back to NY last week. His lawyers are Moskowitz & Book. Avi Moskowitz is the modern orthodox guy defending Margulies on the molestation & conspiracy lawsuits, who had a huge messy mop of hair until UOJ making choyzek prompted him to get a haircut. Chaim Book as a camp counselor, allegedly helped Belsky cover up for Kolko molesting little kids at Camp Agudah.


The Justice Dept issued a press release naming another 13 accomplices arrested or indicted in the case of Avrohom David's illegal immigration mill. There are some Hispanics and Arabs as well as some more heimishe guys.

Part of the scam is that heimishe bakeries and caterers said they gave jobs to the aliens. So is the Chaim Walter who was arrested the same Chaim Walter who owns a bakery with heimishe hashgocho in Monticello? And is the Avromi Flam who was arrested in Lakewood, Avromi Flam the caterer? Flam is also a cousin of David from the Strettiner Flams.


Dovid Grynstzajn is a Lubavitcher whose name came up in a Senate investigation of Munkatcher Pell grant fraud. He was lav davka a willing accomplice as Munkatch was known to use peoples' names without their knowledge too.

There are a lot of people named Robert Salamon so it could be anyone.

There are also a couple of Sefardim one of whom took off as a fugitive.