Too young for drugs? Not according to some parents and doctors

Posted on 10 October 2012

These days, when we think of the typical time when people begin using stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall to help them stay focused, the last thing that probably comes to mind is elementary school age.

However, as shocking as this may be, various news outlets have written stories about how parents, especially those in poor neighborhoods, are turning to these powerful drugs to give their bundles of joy an extra advantage in the classroom.

In many areas of the United States, the side effects, the majority of which include trouble sleeping, increased agitation and decreased appetite are not enough to dissuade moms and dads from convincing doctors that their sons and daughters need help paying attention.

Schools that are in low-income areas of the country don't have the money to buy supplies like computers, books or hire teachers' aides and qualified teachers themselves. The end result is that, oftentimes, little ones are thrown into an environment where there is no discipline and they aren't motivated to try their hardest.

"We as a society have been unwilling to invest in very effective nonpharmaceutical interventions for these children and their families," a researcher at the Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, told The New York Times. "We are effectively forcing local community psychiatrists to use the only tool at their disposal, which is psychotropic medications."

Tutoring and other forms of academic help aren't covered by Medicaid, but, according to, prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are. The website also says that amphetamines have been shown to improve low-income students' grades in school. However, that still should never be the primary reason to seek a prescription for these stimulants.

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