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Ritalin May Trigger Long-Term Brain Cell Changes
Kids all over the country take Ritalin to relieve symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The drugs use has dramatically increased since first appearing on the market in 1980. Now how many college students get restless and bored when certain teachers drone on and on in their lectures. Lets face it some people can not present the work in an interesting enough way to keep our attention. So are we all stricken with ADD?
Doctors have always considered the drug to be short acting, meaning that once it worked its way through the child’s system, it was gone. But according to a study presented just last month at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Ritalin may trigger brain changes that remain after the child quits taking the drug.
Researchers have long known that Ritalin acts in the brain much like cocaine and amphetamines. However they have not thought there were any lasting affects after the drug is out of a child or adult’s system. In the study presented by a researcher in psychology at the University of Buffalo, they gave one group of young rats sweetened milk containing a relatively high dose of Ritalin. The dose and the time of day of the rats’ treatment was comparable to a child’s dosing schedule. The other group was given plain sweetened milk. After 90 minutes, researchers analyzed the rats’ brains.
They found that certain brain cell genes called ‘immediate early genes’ were switched on, and that action caused changes in some aspects of nerve cell function. Amphetamines and cocaine both cause similar gene changes in areas of the brain that control movement and motivation. They go on to say that these findings don’t mean this drug is bad. But would you want to be giving it to any of your children. I know I certainly wouldn’t.
The fact remains that there is no solid evidence that ADHD is a genuine disorder or disease of any kind. There is no proof of any physical abnormalities in the brains or bodies of the children who are routinely labeled ADHD. This is still a controversial diagnosis with little or no scientific or medical basis.
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Nora Volkow, head of the biology and medical departments at New York’s Brookhaven National Laboratory says that “This study is telling us something we cannot ignore. And Ritalin’s therapeutic effects may in fact require activation of a sequence that can produce addiction, but when properly activated can enhance performance and can improve function in a child with ADHD.” But if they do not know what causes this disorder then how can they properly monitor any of this. Whether it be the disorder itself or the changes the Ritalin causes.