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Ritalin: The Drug Time Bomb In Our Schools

Extensive research has been conducted into the use of the drug Ritalin (methylphenidate) over the past 20 years. This research leads to the conclusion that Ritalin is one of the most dangerous and addictive substances known to man.

In the past two years, the amount of Ritalin available for prescription in the United States has increased by 97% according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Ritalin is used primarily on children as a treatment for so-called "attention deficit" or "hyperactivity." Estimates currently place from one to four million American children on Ritalin.

There is growing evidence that Ritalin can cause suicidal depression, neurological disorders including Tourette's Syndrome and epilepsy, drug abuse and dependence, stunted growth, psychotic states which are "indistinguishable from the active phase of schizophrenia."

In cities across the nation, parents and children have protested the use of Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs on school children. "Love Me, Don't Drug Me," "Stop Drugging Americals Children," and "Don't Let Psychiatrists Drug Me" read signs carried by demonstrators in such places as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Jose, Boston, Washington D.C., Austin, Dallas, and Miami. The demonstrations have focused the attention of the nation on the inappropriate, unwarranted, and excessive use of powerful mind-altering psychiatric drugs on our nation's school children.

Lawsuits have been filed in many of the cities above, seeking compensation for the children allegedly harmed by Ritalin.


Ritalin is classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II substance -- in the same category as cocaine, morphine, opium, methadone, and Dexedrine, Desoxyn, Preludin, Percodan, Dilaudid and Demoral.

While Americans are rightfully concerned about illegal drug use, the country is faced with the problem of the mass addiction of millions of our school children, by psychiatrists, to legally prescribed drugs.

Despite the fact that the psychiatric industry is well aware of how dangerous Ritalin is, it continues to be prescribed to children as young as two years old.

Ritalin is also a well known "street drug," one which adds to this country's drug abuse and dependence problems, increasing drug-related crime and suicide.

The following information is presented in the interests of creating a saner, healthier and more productive nation, one which would be far better off without the alarming escalation in the numbers of school children introduced to drugs in the classroom, or, worse, at an early childhood age.


Ritalin, generically known as methylphenidate, belongs to the group of amphetamine and amphetamine-type drugs. Amphetamines are stimulants, more commonly known as "speed."

This powerful and extremely dangerous drug used to be classified on the FDA schedule for hard narcotics as a Schedule III controlled substance.

(There are five classes of what the FDA calls "controlled substances." The drugs are classed according to their level of danger, as well as for their value for legitimate medical use. Schedule I drugs are considered to have the highest potential for addiction or abuse and no legitimate medical use. Schedule I drugs include heroin, PCP, LSD and Quaalude.)

By the early 1970's, Congressional leaders had recognized the dangerous nature of Ritalin and the drug's strong potential for abuse. In a hearing in September 1970, Congressman Cornelius E. Gallavher of New Jersey compared young children being given Ritalin to "guinea pigs."

Congressman Gallagher stated, "From the time of puberty onward, each and every child is told that "speed kills' and that amphetamines are to be avoided. Yet, this same child has learned that Ritalin, for example, is the only thing that makes him a functioning member of the school environment and both his family and his doctor have urged the pills on him."

Congressman Gallagher expressed his concern over "the effect of accelerating this use of amphetamines on our national campaign against drug abuse."

In 1972, as a result of pressure from Congress, the FDA moved Ritalin from a Schedule III substance to the more tightly restricted Schedule II.

LSD was a prescription psychiatric drug for many years before being banned as such and declared a Schedule I drug in 1966. Psychiatrists used this drug widely before its banning; one psychiatrist, Louis J. West, demonstrated the deadliness of this drug by killing an elephant with LSD in a 1962 experiment.

Quaalude, another psychiatric drug, was moved into Schedule I by Congress in 1984 after years of tragic abuse.

Schedule II drugs are considered to have a high potential for addiction or abuse, while having some medical value. These are the most heavily controlled substances for which a prescription can be written. The DEA is responsible for the control of these drugs and sets limits on their legal production. Doctors prescribing a Schedule II drug must have a special license from the DEA.

Controls on Schedule II drugs are monitored by the DEA and each state's attorney general. Pharmacists must account for every milligram of Schedule II drugs they dispense.

Today Ritalin has become the number-one street drug in Canada. In the city of Vancouver, for example, there are between 6,000 and 10,000 Ritalin addicts "shooting" Ritalin into their veins from three to 20 times per day in combination with pain-killers such as Talvin.

According to police reports from Vancouver, the city's Ritalin addicts are committing 60 to 70 percent of all the urban crime in the area. Vancouver police blame Ritalin addicts for the 105 percent increase in burglaries in a downtown portion of the city in the first six months of 1987, and a 43 percent increase in burglaries city-wide over the same period.

Ritalin, which acts as a stimulant on adults, acts as a depressant on children before puberty.

Ritalin has been used on children for more than two decades and is currently being produced and prescribed for children at an increasing rate. And yet, recent manufacturer information states that "Sufficient data on safety and efficacy of long-term use of Ritalin in children are not yet available."

The Physician's Desk Reference lists very serious adverse reactions to Ritalin and warnings about its use. These include severe withdrawal and suicide reported in connection with use of the drug. There have also been reports of Tourette's Syndrome, a permanent and irreversible damaging of the nerve and muscle system that results in uncontrollable muscle tics and barking sounds.

Other negative effects of Ritalin use included depression, psychosis, insomnia, nervousness, skin rash, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, headache, abdominal pain, and blood pressure and pulse changes.

(This information was taken from a pamphlet issued by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.)

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