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March 19, 2007


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Spike Gomes

My parents never put me on drugs when I was a kid. They probably should have. I'm still struggling with a legacy of rock bottom grades until college and social ostracization since middle school.

From my friends though who were on ritalin back when they were young, they tell me that long term use of the medication through childhood and into puberty can wreck havoc on metabolism. You probably know better than me, so is there any truth to the anecdotal data I have? I'm hesitant to use the net to find out considering the moral panic behind childhood meds.

James Bodi

This must be tough; either you're dealing with local doctors who don't know the disease, or (probably) anti-ritalin backlashers among the other expats.

I've witnessed some really weird reactions to anti-depressant combos as well as wild rebounds when one or both drugs is dropped. Unfortunately, experiment is the only way to discover what really works.


For all we know (and I'm wearing my PH hat here), Ritalin is a very safe drug. Doesn't build up in the body, acts only for a very limited time. It is said to stunt growth but this seems mostly to be connected with the appetite depressing factor. This can be worked around - give a good breakfast before giving Ritalin, feed the child copiously when he comes off. (In fact, those combo-days, Alan would eat five slices of pizza or three bowls of cereal in the early afternoon. More than he usually eats.) What I also like about Ritalin is that since it works so quickly (about 20 minutes), and works for such a short period, you can give Ritalin when you really need it and leave it off on weekends and "good" days.

As for the metabolism - I haven't read any papers that address this issue. (And I've read a lot of scientific papers about ADHD.) I'll look into it because it sounds worrying.

Mind you, ADHD kids and adolescents have very high risk factors for substance abuse, criminal behavior, addictive and oppositional defiant disorders, social stigmitazation... Tough choice, the possibility of that, and Ritalin on the other side.

The thing about Ritalin is, if you don't have ADHD, it's not a safe drug at all. There is definitely a factor of over-prescribing, of it being a wonder drug for parents who cannot handle their kids.

This is not us. Alan's symptoms are clear, he has a hereditary component, and when on Ritalin alone, he's happy and able to live up to his possibilities. Happiness, in my eyes, is important in a five-year-old.


Just because you don't mention it, have you considered adding some seriously aerobic sports, like soccer? That always helped channel my energy when I was young, and it would boost his metabolism too.

Mike R.

It's pretty hard even when you do it to yourself as an adult too. "So, I've just given myself a new personality, and this new personality must decide if this is a better personality than the previous personality, but it looks at the old personality through the light of the new personality . . . " That pretty Philip K. Dick-ish when you think about it and it's something millions have to decide all the time.

I know it sucks, but trial and error really is the only way to find out what works and what doesn't. Just too many variables in individual brain chemestry that we don't have a clue about at the moment.

Best wishes to you all, I know this can't be easy,


Have you tried teaching him chess?

You might need to be on the Ritalin to do it, but once mastered it's a big help in practicing focus. And fun, too.

Well, I thought so, at any rate.


Of course, just reading your blog I probably have no business commenting, but having raised two boys (25, 26) who had some of the same problems--and having just discovered that my oldest, Sean, had a form of autism, now called Asberger's syndrom, I would like to offer a small bit of advice. Take it easy, be very cautious to introduce new meds. Read everything you can get your hands on. ADHD is a very complicated and misdiagnosed SYMPTOM. It is important to remember that it is a symptom--of several conditions. Also, do not let your son interalize "something is wrong with me". They are only young for so short a time. After my son was grown, he was able to tell me how my search to make things better made him feel. He loved me anyway!

I found your blog thru a search for vinegar pie, and liked what I read so found your current writing. It sounds like you are living a wonderful life. And that you are great parents, with great kids. Keep it up.

D Long

I was interested in your blog, you guys are good parents, but if Ritalin works give it a chance. I have been on Ritalin for sixteen years, my grades in high school went from a .27 gpa to a 3.5 gpa in one semester, but my parents had the same feelings you did. They felt I wasn't the same kid, fortunately that was true. I wasn't getting into fights, I wasn't throwing temper tantrums, but I was acting very serious. This is a result of increase focus, and its not a bad thing. When I first started Ritalin I could do all kinds of things I could never do before, it enabled me to use skills that I had but was unable to utilize at first. I read everything I could get my hands on, I started writing creatively, I improved in sports and musicianship two things I had been good at in the past and eventually I chilled out. I sort of phased out of the super serious thing, and became the guy everyone gets along with. I did lose weight when I was on ritalin, but I grew out of that fairly quickly. I completed college sucessfully, I have three degrees at the age of thirty one and work at a hopital where I'm in charge of a department. I'm married, my wife is a physician, and other than some occasional disorganization Ritalin has kept most of the problematic ADHD traits in check. I offer these thoughts more as encouragement than advice, remember that every medicine works differently on everyone. If ritalin is making your child unhappy, then its probably not worth any gain that it might make. Hope this helps, feel free to e-mail if you have any questions or concerns and good luck.

Dave Long

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