View Full Version : Parents seeking Ritalin to boost non ADD kid's grades

03-01-07, 02:15 AM
A 15-year-old girl and her parents recently came in for a chat with Dr. James Perrin, a Boston pediatrician, because they were concerned about the girl's grades. Previously an A student, she was slipping to B's, and the family was convinced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was at fault — and that a prescription for Ritalin would boost her brainpower.

After examining the girl, Perrin determined she didn't have ADHD. The parents, who had come in demanding a prescription, left empty-handed.

Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other physicians say this is an increasingly common scenario in doctors' offices around the country, though there are no hard statistics on it.
Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they've heard about the illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for "academic doping." Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly admitting they don't believe their child has ADHD.

“I spoke with [some] colleagues the other day and they mentioned three cases recently where parents blatantly asked for the medication so that their children would perform better in school, yet there were no other indications that the child had ADHD,” says Dr. Nick Yates, a pediatrician and director of medical ethics for Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y.

“I’m very concerned that there’s a fair amount — and we don’t know how much — [of ADHD drugs] being prescribed and used for off-label purposes," says Yates.

Academic doping — using these stimulant prescriptions in an effort to enhance focus, concentration and mental stamina — first started on college campuses, especially Ivy League and exclusive, competitive schools. Now, the problem is filtering down to secondary schools, Yates says, and more parents are playing a role in obtaining prescription ADHD medication for their teenagers.

Yates isn't entirely surprised that parents ask for it. He believes that most families simply have a heartfelt — if shockingly misdirected — desire for their children to do their best.......

Safety issues
The concerns with academic doping aren't just ethical.

"The medications in general have a long safety record for people who need them but when you use a drug for off-label purposes, there are additional safety concerns,” says Yates.
Although doctors generally agree that side effects from the medications are minimal for most kids, there is an extensive, and sometimes frightening, list of possibilities.

Commonly reported side effects include difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, irritability, stomachaches, headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and tics and tremors. There have been concerns that ADHD medication temporarily delays growth, and one study found that up to 5 percent of children experience tactile hallucinations, often involving a sensation that bugs or snakes are crawling on their bodies. The FDA recently announced that certain ADHD drugs should caution users about the risks of serious heart problems and psychotic behavior................

Furthermore, doctors warn that if a kid doesn’t have ADHD, the benefit from taking the drugs is unpredictable and, despite the lore, most likely extremely modest. Parents of unmotivated kids may be particularly disappointed.

“One of the biggest problems in adolescent mental health is motivation,” says Rater. “And this medication doesn’t effect motivation. If a kid is not all that motivated, it’s really not going to help.”

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03-01-07, 02:18 AM
I knew that college kids were using stimulent medication to help get that push for better grades, but I was pretty shocked to learn that some parents are doing it too. So many of us struggle about whether to put our ADD kids on stimulent medication, and these parents are doing it just to give their kids an edge -- that really bothers me!


03-01-07, 09:04 PM
I have read that in China academic doping of children is not uncommon.

Me :D

03-01-07, 09:49 PM
CAN YOU SAY...STUPID...CHILD ENDANGERMENT.....and immediate removal of the children in that home...and if flogging were allowed in the US....I would like to see them out in a huge public square..........

Man that makes me it's not hard enough already to get meds for us and our's another reason why people will have something negative to say...and doctor's have to look at us sideways ...when we ask for our ADD kids to get treated....AAARGGG....:mad:

03-01-07, 10:02 PM
yes it is unfortunate. I remember this was going on around the time my son was diagnosed ADHD in 1995. It really ticked me off because as Just Hope says it's hard enough trying to have your child who has a ligitamit diagnosis adequately treated.

These people need to get their priorities in order

03-02-07, 12:17 PM
I have read that in China academic doping of children is not uncommon.

Me :DThat's true, I always read reports about black-market Ritalin selling (semi-publicly) in China around the exam season, and the reports that went against that.

03-07-07, 12:32 AM
wow, this really makes me mad.

i'm at med school, and i've heard stories of several of my classmates (who will be our future prescribers) taking ADD meds to stay awake and study, classmates who do not have ADD. 2 of them asked me for mine, and I said ABSOLUTELY not. I can't believe the nerve of them to ask me for medication that I need just to get by so that they can enhance their already fine performance.

I can't believe that parents of children are encouraging this behavior, and actually seeking the drugs on their kids' behalf. Sick.

03-07-07, 11:50 AM
It's so unfortanate that we as a country have to medicate our kids for almost every little thing that goes on in their lives. In some cases, I understand the need to have a child medicated like when there are true bipolar and adhd diagnoses, but to use ritalin to boost grades IMO is just plain wrong...