Ritalin: Pros and Cons

Are too many children using prescribed stimulants like Ritalin? Here's what experts on both sides say.
Speaking Out

Donna Jones believes her son, Kyle, would be alive today if he had never taken Ritalin. He was an intelligent 8-year-old who was getting Bs in school. But school officials thought he should be doing better. "I met with the guidance counselor, a teacher, the vice principal," recalls Donna, a single, harried parent. "They all said, 'You should put your child on Ritalin.'"

Soon after her son started taking the medicine, she was concerned that he seemed dazed and disconnected from others. Within a few years, Kyle believed he needed drugs to function. He began experimenting with other pills and substances, including marijuana, speed, and eventually heroin. Last year, at the age of 20, he overdosed on heroin and died in an emergency room.

His mother says Ritalin led to this tragic ending. Her psychologist, David B. Stein, agrees.

Stein is one of a growing group of psychologists and physicians who are speaking out against the wholesale use of Ritalin to solve what they say are social problems. The Richmond, Virginia, psychologist, who was treating Donna for depression, has dedicated 15 years to developing alternative, nonchemical treatments for children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Continued on page 2:  Opinions Differ