This may be the most contentious posting I’ve ever made but I feel, in all good conscience, especially as a mother, it needs to be said, particularly as this issue reaches epidemic proportions…
Did you know that methylphenidates (brand names Ritalin and Concerta) are the single most prescribed drugs for children ages 12-17? This psychostimulant is a cousin of crystal meth, a narcotic with the same classification of cocaine and yet it is being given to healthy, smart children in escalating numbers. I hereby state for the record that under no circumstances would I ever allow this drug to be given to one of my children. I have no doubt that this statement will make me hugely unpopular with many people and initially may even come across as arrogant and lacking in sensitivity or compassion. But to the contrary, it is out of deepest compassion and understanding that I justify this statement, herewith:
1. A child’s brain is in the thick of development. In fact, we know the human brain only reaches full maturity at age 25. A school-aged child’s brain is highly absorbent and will adjust its development according to the information received by the chemicals that influence it. Do you want your child’s developing brain to mutate to the tune of narcotic psychostimulants? And we haven’t even begun to ask the questions, “Who benefits from these sales and these ADD/ADHD diagnoses?” Surely not the children. And yet, 90% of Ritalin sales represent prescriptions for children.
2. When we train our minds to focus, we increase our ability to focus. Our brain is a highly complex organ that does not benefit from being distressed by chemicals. By contrast, as all organs, its function improves with harmonious conditions and proper usage. The more we apply focus, the more we’ll increase our ability to focus. You can strengthen your brain with healthy application! Using a crutch like a focusing aid, removes this opportunity and makes the brain lazy. In effect medicating is the fast tract to atrophying the brain.
3. Yes, I concur, text books are usually uber-booooring and yes, schools are not designed in alignment with the lotus like blossoming of a healthy human brain under the right conditions. Add to that the fact that the information in these text books is dubious at best. BUT I’ll tell you what the common prison like schools and text books do have going for our kids (definitely the only thing) is that all that tedium provides is an excellent way to train the brain to focus. It creates a certain stamina, brain-endurance if you will. Look, we all did it – and probably suffered worse tedium than this generation (remember having to write dictionary pages as punishment?). We all hated the tedium (well, most of us anyway) but we flexed our brains (while we missed out on our childhoods and the even greater brain development that would have taken place under conditions that were fully conducive to our brain’s unlimited maturation. For the record, I’m not over looking that important point as I underscore a separate point at the moment.
4. Ideally, education will evolve as people break out of the mass hypnosis and see humanity’s truth and forge that change. But in the meantime, those horrid text books can serve a purpose in strengthening one’s ability to persevere through tedious material. We’ve all had the experience of reading the same page over half a dozen times and not knowing a single thing we’d read and then applying our focus and finding we could make perfect sense of it. Focus is a choice. I know. I know many readers are getting increasingly incensed with me right now because they believe it’s not a choice for their child. But there are additional factors to unveil so please keep reading as your frustrations will be addressed…
5. Most doctors and parents come to the Ritalin “solution” loosely, meaning, the child may undergo some tests (and in some cases the tests are skipped altogether or their “normal” results are over-rided). The parent and doctor can agree to make the executive decision that said child could use the extra boost and thus it is granted. The problem with this instant gratification is deeper than just a willy nilly ability to push narcotics onto unwitting kids under the guise of supporting their school work. The problem is that we project our idea of what learning means onto our kids which puts them into boxes where they cannot grow into their own truth. We put them on assembly lines because we know no other way and then, when they don’t produce what is expected, we assume there is something wrong with them (rather than there possibly being something wrong with the assembly line). Is it more likely that all these young people are deficient or that the education system rather does not serve these young minds? Okay, well, that’s a loaded question if we consider all the chemicals that babies are exposed to in utero and then in the years to follow from infant formula and mainstream foods, not to mention heavy metals and radiation that are recorded at frightening levels in utero and infancy and in breast milk. But more on that later. Just notice that we are assuming the kids are the problem while we do not take the scholastic blueprint receives little to no scrutiny. Perhaps a prescription for the remediation of common schooling would be a more effective solution?
6. While you are concerned that your child is missing the requisite attention faculties, your child may be sitting on an incredible creative gift (whether that gift it’s evident to you or not is beside the point); the gift may be dormant for a variety of reasons, or it may be active but there is always a price to be paid for opposing nature, gifts are lost. Your child may start getting straight A’s in every subject but totally lose touch with his unique spark which would have served to inspire and satisfy him his entire life through, and possibly bring light to countless others. Always ask, “What is the price for doing this?” And then you can determine if the price is worth paying.
7. You may argue that doing better at school is critical for the child’s self-esteem and that in itself makes it worth the drugs. Well, imagine the child’s self-esteem were it supported by an environment that truly nourished and nurtured that child’s truth. But for most parents that would mean undergoing a great shedding of belief systems and lifestyle themselves. Parents are typically locked into the status quo by the time they have children and just want the assembly line to go smoothly so they don’t look foolish and naturally, they want to feel they are providing an “idyllic” childhood for their kids.
8. Kids today have two other significant forces negatively impacting their ability to focus: non-stop use of technology (smartphones, handheld devices/video games, etc.) which alter brain function and catastrophic dietary intake which causes all chemical havoc to be unleashed in their blood stream, gut and brain. Add to that all the radiation and hormonal deranging caused by all of these factors and you’ll see that suggesting Ritalin, Concerta or any other focus-enhancing drug is hardly a meaningful solution. You might even say such a suggestion lacks focus.
9. Part of growing up strong is gaining confidence in your mental capacities. If a child or teen is given a crutch for their brain function, how are they ever going to have the requisite confidence in life. They will always go around feeling a little unsure of a funda-mental (forgive the pun) faculty. That is a terrible thing to do to a person. I realize that most parents agree to the Ritalin “solution” because they are trying to do the right thing and be good parents and because they want their child to do well and feel confident. But, I’m afraid this is a bizarrely ironic twist because in the long run it will not help them do well, it will make them dependent – dangerously, sadly and unnecessarily so.
In conclusion, I’ll share with you what I tell my high-school aged daughter when she comes to me saying, “Please, Mom, can’t I take Ritalin too – just for the tests? So many of my friends do.” First I explain to her all I’ve just shared above and why I wouldn’t have her mind co-opted by these destructive chemicals for anything and then I very sincerely express to her that I would rather her earn an average grade on a test that she had done her very best studying for than for her to get the best possible score having taken Ritalin.
The outright destruction of a whole generation of children’s brains resulting from the application of these brain-destroying meds will all come to light in the next 5-10 years and will likely land in a pile of the worst possible substances, the likes of thalidomide (we have yet, I warn, to see the effect of the regular use of these drugs once these kids become parents). Have we learned nothing from the past? What do we want for our kids – for them to shine their truth or for them to be squished into a distorted assembly-line-mentality of life and for that pay the price of their intact brilliant minds and who knows what else?