msnbc.com
updated 9/11/2006 2:24:27 PM ET 2006-09-11T18:24:27

MSNBC.com's story on parents pressuring pediatricians for ADHD drugs to help their kids do better in school got a heated response from readers. Many were angry that the possible side effects of medications like Ritalin on otherwise normal children were being ignored.

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One reader felt the parents should be reported as child abusers. Another called it cheating.

Some younger readers admitted using Ritalin to keep up in school. "I did not know or care about the potential side effects because I believed that the ‘end justified the means’, ” wrote a student.

A reader advised parents to be proud of their children's accomplishments beyond school. "Pay attention to the person not the grades. Talk to them, know them, and let them know that the grades don't make them the person you want them to be," she wrote.

Read on for more comments.

Where are these parents' brains? They're teaching their children all the wrong lessons — that there is a drug to "cure" everything. In today's society, where so many illicit drugs are so readily available, this is one lesson the children don't need to learn. Unfortunately, these parents will eventually find a doctor who WILL prescribe for them, whether the children need it or not!!
Judi, Wheeling, Ill.

No wonder ADHD medicine has such a bad name! Because of parents and/or students who misuse the medication for better grades, those who are outside the issue of ADHD think that no one really needs them. My son is ADHD and he (we) would not be able to make it through the day without the medication. Those who are using the drugs illegally are giving those who truly need them a bad name. I had to fight my parents on this issue because of misinformation about the drugs and who needs them. Those careless enough to print such undocumented and unfounded information should be ashamed of themselves as should those parents who try to pressure doctors into prescribing ADHD meds to their children for better grades.
Trish

Success is living and acting out to your full potential. Parents (myself included) must be realistic and understand their child, his/her strengths and weaknesses. I would never knowingly drug my child for performance purposes. At the same time articles like this do a great injustice to parents like me, an adult with ADHD with two ADHD children. Our children hear and see these sensationalized reports and decide to go off medication. The results are predictably disappointing to them and us. If you are ADHD, just as if you are diabetic, the medication is appropriate and necessary.
D. Sager

Ritalin is something that I acquired numerous times in high school in order to study for tests, etc. While some people would crush it and snort it, I found that one good hour of studying on Ritalin was better than three hours of studying without it. I did this as a result of my own expectations concerning grades in AP classes. It became almost a "necessity" if I had two tests on the same day. That being said, I did not know or care about the potential side effects because I believed that the "end justified the means". Looking back, I now believe that this may have tipped the "playing field" in my favor a little. While there are still times in my career where I feel that taking a Ritalin or two would help, I do not try to get a prescription because I know that I would not be diligent in taking it correctly, even though I have been diagnosed with ADHD. The fact is that if you learn how to manage your mind instead of the other way around ADHD can be an advantage in itself.
Brandon, Alma, Mich.

Parents, get real, not all kids learn at the same rate. They don't have any medical problems but problems at home or around them. If your child was an A student and dropped down to a B student, then you should pay attention to the changes in his/her life instead of looking for a pill that will increase their grades. Pay attention to the person not the grades. Talk to them, know them, and let them know that the grades don't make them the person you want them to be. Be proud of their accomplishments; remember what it was like for you at that age. Now triple the stress factor and that’s what the kids of today are going through. Get involved in their lives, other than school, grades and you patting yourself on the back for having a straight A student.
Denise, Grand Marsh, Wis.

I think that any parent who tries to dope a kid to enhance his/her grades ought to be reported as a child abuser. After all, aren't we in the midst of a baseball doping scandal? What about stripping the Tour De France trophy over being doped? Doesn't this send a message to the idiots who think it's OK to dope their kids? I have a better idea. These parents need to be told that the message they're sending their kids is they don't care what the kids are taking. As we educate our kids against drug abuse these knuckle-headed parents are suggesting that it's OK to abuse various substances, including, but certainly not limited to, crack cocaine, marijuana, and opiates, as well as LSD, ecstasy, and other drugs of choice, which also happen to be illegal. Let's charge the parents with drug offenses and have them live a life of shame for what they are doing to their children.
Mike,Amarillo, Texas

I am a 17-year-old high-school senior, I was diagnosed and have been receiving treatment for ADHD since I was four. I, like others struggling with ADHD, take medication to help stay focused so that I can have the same opportunities as everyone without learning disabilities. I find it disturbing that parents are wrongfully seeking prescriptions for their children, hoping that by taking medication their child will have a better chance of getting into a good college. This is an obvious disadvantage to all of the students who really do need the medication and those who do not need the medication and do not take it. I am disgusted.
Brian,Oak Ridge, Tenn.

One thing the article did not mention is the use of these drugs to boost SAT scores to get into a good school. I spoke to a parent of a girl who was accepted to Harvard and asked for advice on how to do good on SAT's and he said the day of the test take Adderall. He was serious. For a moment I thought what a great idea then I came to my senses. What kind of message does this say to my kids? Yeah he would have scored probably 100 points higher, but how sick is that. When getting accepted to these schools we are not on a level playing field. ADD labeled kids are not timed, and the SATs are about timing, they are not hard just the kids do not have enough time to finish all the answers. Merit scholarships should not be based on SAT scores at these colleges. Parents will do anything to get their kids scores up, if it’s worth money to them. I was told by Northeastern that if my son got 50 more points he would have received more merit money. Would telling my son to take speed the day of the test been worth another $5,000, maybe. This is what the colleges are doing to us. Thank God I didn't do it, but a lot of parents are.
Pamela

What a horrible example they are setting for their child and the community as a whole. When did academic perfection become the norm? I truly do not understand why any parent would pressure their child this way. … Academic success is not the end all. A well adjusted, non-medicated, healthy, happy, stress-free lifestyle is the goal that these parents should be striving to help their child achieve. This would be success. This would be the ultimate gift they could give.
Debbie,Farmington, N.Y.

I have major issues with parents abusing ADHD/ADD drugs to boost their kids’ performance in schools. This stuff is like steroids on the mental side. It will help but there are too many side affects that will harm kids. Replace the boosted physical performance with strait A's and also replace male breast, female facial hair, and increased anger with being anti-social, severe decrease in appetite (which leads to being under weight and malnutrition) and lack of energy. This happens even in small doses. It's a simple solution to a complex problem that parents who are to lazy to deal with misbehaved children. There needs to be a message out telling people that this drug cannot be taken lightly.
Caleb

This is more widespread in colleges than most people know. Saying that somebody's grades are falling because they just aren't smart enough isn't necessarily true when a large portion of your class can study much harder, much longer, and much more efficiently than you can because they're taking amphetamines. Grades are given on a curve, and if a significant proportion of a class has an extra advantage, it's much more difficult to get good grades.
Anonymous

Being a sophomore in college and an ADHD teen myself, I can understand the stresses teens face today in the ever-competitive academic world. … If your child does poorly on a semester in school, your must find the underlying cause of it. If there seems to be no root to it, do not ever come to the conclusion that your child has ADHD. Adolescents get burned out — we are not well-oiled machines that will continuously and flawlessly meet to the highest standards at all points in our lives. With the pressures parents are giving us today; to get all As, to graduate with honors, especially with outrageous academic tuitions, it leads to stressful lives that many cannot handle psychologically. Because of all these pressures, depression is becoming more common, suicides rates are climbing among college students. Is this all a surprise? I think not. I think that parents of the baby-boomer generation need to take a chill pill themselves and try to allow their kids some practice without training wheels on the bicycle of life.
Denise, Providence, R.I.

I am the parent of two daughters that have ADHD. One was not medicated and one was. The first dealt with depression, suicidal thoughts and poor grades. We worked and worked to overcome her difficulties. The second child exhibited similar signs, but attention was worse. She is medicated. I would do anything to take her off the medication. I am concerned about liver function, stunted growth, and dependency on another source rather than working diligently to overcome a very real problem. The problems were exhibited as early as age four and continue to this day. Tutoring, study skills, books on tape, manipulatives for math, day planners, schedules, daily checks on work discussing school work at length so that I am sure that they understand it has all been a part of my normal day in addition to my job and additional family responsibilities. Prescriptions aren't the answer they are a band-aid.
Concerned Parent, Simi Valley, Calif.

This is terrible! For the ones of us who HAVE to give our child a pill everyday just so they can get through the day. How we wish, and pray that we did not have to give our child a pill, and then watch them struggle to maintain a C average. They are very smart loving children who feel they are somehow different from everyone else because they have to take medication. It is both financial and emotional torment on our families. These outrageous parents should be thrilled that they have a child without ADHD, even if they FAILED a subject. They are to self-centered to ever know how difficult it is for a child, and their parents to live with ADHD. It brings me to tears to think that while I am literally crying because my child will have to take medication for at LEAST the rest of her school years, some "parent?" is begging for the same medication for a healthy child. I am stunned!
Wendy, Welcome, N.C.

I think it is frightening that parents are so quick to medicate kids, even if ADHD or other issues have been diagnosed (and I am highly skeptical of the number of alleged "true" ADHD cases). To try to boost a child's academic performance through drugs sends a real fine message to the child. Today Adderall, tomorrow how about some steroids to help Junior make the basketball team? But, even worse, this will have long-term consequences for the physical and mental health of the child, both near-term and for the rest of the child's life. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Any parent who would try to fraudulently obtain ADHD drugs to attempt to influence the child's school performance is guilty of child abuse
Dennis, Princeton, N.J.

This very situation is occurring with my brother and his son, who is 14. His mother pushed to have him on stimulants after his grades began to fall and he didn't "mind" like he used to. His grades have rebounded, but could it be normal teenage "rebellion" from a domineering mother, rather than a true case of ADHD? I think so, but it would be near impossible to intervene without destroying my relationship with them.
Anonymous for obvious reasons

My kid takes it. My sister's two kids take it. She brings a pill to school before a big test. It's cheating, pure and simple, just like the athletes on steroids. And only God knows what the consequences will be down the road.
Ron

My child takes Adderall for his ADHD and I would give anything if he didn't have to. Because he really has ADHD it's about more than him getting an A, it's about his quality of life. I think that parents that are trying to use the medicine for the wrong reasons would not be able to handle the pressures of dealing with a child that really has ADHD and are thus minimizing what the real ADHD suffers go through.
Belinda,Memphis, Tenn.

This has been a shocking article to me... I believe that sometimes parents don't have time or don't take the time to pay attention to their kids, so they can't really find out what could be making them drop a grade or two. So the best way for them to solve this issue quickly is going to buy these pills. Another thing I believe young people have to deal with these days, therefore their parents is A LOT OF PRESSURE. This generation not only needs to graduate from school with great grades, but they also need to have a second language, they need to have good computer skills, things that before weren't as necessary as today to either find a good job or get into a good University. But I think a bit more family time or communication or dedication can be of great help.
Anonymous

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