For many ADHD kids and their families, drugs such as Ritalin have been a miracle. According to the NIMH:
“For many people, these medicines dramatically reduce their hyperactivity and improve their ability to focus, work and learn. The medications also may improve physical coordination, such as handwriting and ability in sports. Recent research by NIMH suggests that these medicines also may help children with an accompanying conduct disorder to control their impulsive, destructive behaviors.”
ADHD can be an emotionally painful and difficult problem for everyone involved. The children may feel different, isolated and stupid (even though studies show most are of normal or above-average intelligence). Parents and siblings may feel confusion, guilt and sheer exhaust from the immense task of managing a child with a severe case of ADHD. For many of the children and families suffering from the effects of ADHD, the benefits of stimulant drugs outweigh the risks.
According to the National Institutes of Health 1998 Consensus Statement on ADHD, stimulants improve some symptoms, but are not successful across the board. “Despite the improvement in core symptoms, there is little improvement in academic achievement or social skills.” The statement also found no information about many aspects of long-term treatment with stimulants.
Making an Informed Choice
The choice to use stimulant drugs is a personal one, and sometimes a very tough one. To make a fully informed decision, parents should study up on the disease, carefully weigh all the pros and cons and talk with doctors and other parents of ADHD kids.
The NIMH article on ADHD argues that a combination of treatments is most effective for ongoing improvement and management of the condition:
“There are no quick cures. Many experts believe that the most significant, long-lasting gains appear when medication is combined with behavioral therapy, emotional counseling, and practical support.”