Has anyone heard of Ritalin?
“Has anyone out there had any experience with Ritalin? My kid’s doctor just put her on it and I’d like to know about side effects, etc.” This is not an uncommon question in ADHD circles. It’s always driven me nuts. Until I was preparing to blog about it. I would ask anyone who reads this to please share it with whomever it may apply to. My initial rant was about how annoying it was to me that people would put their kids on meds BEFORE asking around about the medication. As I was thinking about how to explain why, it dawned on me that, generally, these kids are young. Parents are young. The situation itself is new, confusing, and quite possibly scary. Plus the parent has had the doctor’s reassurance that this is the right thing to do. Who thinks to tell the doctor “Hey I’d like some reading material and some time to think about this.”? That said, I really can’t say I blame anyone for not doing their research first. However: THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO! Advise your doctor (who should understand) that you’d like to see some research and get some reading material on the substance he wants to put in your kid’s body (or your body, or whoever they want to take the pills). Ask about side effects. YOUR DOCTOR SHOULD BE THE MOST QUALIFIED TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. I’m not yelling, but if there’s anything I want you to take away from this, it’s that research is OKAY. When you go to the Dr. with an ear infection, the first thing they ask is if you are allergic to anything. Why? Because they are going to give you an antibiotic, and many people are allergic to Penicillin and/or Amoxicillin. They want to avoid a reaction. When you go to the doctor requesting advice on treatment for ADHD, who knows your kid better: you or the doctor? Be open about your child’s energy levels, eating habits, etc., and be prepared to return within 3-6 months for a follow-up. Why? To avoid a negative reaction or to address any that occur. Your doctor should show an ongoing interest in your treatment or your child’s treatment. This leads me to my next critical point: DO NOT ARBITRARILY TAKE YOUR KID OFF THE MEDS. Discuss this with your Dr. Unless there is a debilitating reaction, do not take your kid off meds without consulting the Doc. Why? Because the body can take time to adjust to new chemicals and there may also be difficulties which arise from the removal of meds. Initially, your kid could become downright mean. Or stop eating as much. They may seem like they’ve lost their personality. Some things, like personality, are simply the trade-off for success in school, behavior, etc., which you have to accept if medication is your choice of treatment. Use your judgment regarding what’s acceptable in this regard. Also, once the side effects lessen (yes lessen… they are not always a permanent thing) you may find that aside from the initial adjustment period, meds are like magic. Most importantly, however, it’s hard enough on a kid’s body (or an adults) to BEGIN treatment with meds. It’s another complete set of complications and bodily adjustment when you take your kid or yourself OFF meds. I’ve seen parents put their kids through 6 different meds in one year, trying to find the right one. Of course none of them worked! The body was still adjusting from the effects of prior meds when new meds were introduced. This is not a rollercoaster of ups and downs, it is a downward spiral where the body becomes more and more out of control as it is pumped full of ever changing meds.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against medication for ADHD. I took Ritalin for ~25 years and could not have survived my twenties without it. I was diagnosed as a child. I was lucky to be put on a medication that worked the first time, and with immediate results, without having to try several different kinds. When I stopped the first time, it was abrupt, my body responded poorly, and it was a quick trap that nearly ended any hope of success in life. I struggled for a few years before realizing that I had become out of control and really needed help. Going back on Ritalin was a rough ride at first, because I went immediately to the same dosage I had been on before. After the initial adjustment, however (took a few weeks to stop getting shaky, panicky, and to get any kind of appetite back) I was able to stay focused and had the will power to stay away from the attraction of the less responsible lifestyle I had been drawn into. When I did finally stop taking medication for good, it was gradual, and I had monthly visits with my doctor to check not only my physical condition, but how the change was affecting my work and home life as I adjusted. When things would get overwhelming, we would not lessen the dosage. it took 4 or 5 months to completely wean me from Ritalin, and I have lived a fairly successful life since. Granted everyone’s situation is different, it’s important to see how a change in meds can be done poorly as well as correctly, and the results of each. Mind you, that was the same drug each time. Who knows how different things would be if I had tried something different that I was not used to?
I am a strong proponent of making an educated decision. If you have concerns (Which you should), ask the pharmacist, the doctor, your friends etc. Google is your friend. A prescription doesn’t have to be filled immediately after leaving the doctor’s office. Fill it later, or the next day. Fill it Friday evening so you have time for adjustment before the schoolweek/workweek.
Read the original HERE.