- CHICAGO (AFP) - Officials expressed concern Friday over an increase in
illegal activity among suburban teens involving the drug Ritalin.
- Police and school officials reported
a rash of break-ins in school nurses' offices where the pills are being
stored for use to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- A single dose of the drug used to treat
hyperactive children lasts around four hours, so children must take a dose
during the day, which is why the drug is kept in school nurses' offices.
- The officials said the stolen drug was
being traded illegally among teenagers who use it to get high much like
- "It's an uneven problem, far more
(prevalent) in suburban districts than within the city," said A.J.
Allen, a child psychologist at the University of Illinois here. "We're
talking about less than one percent of prescriptions for Ritalin."
- An estimated 4 million school-age children
are taking methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin, to treat ADHD -- which
prevents children, mostly boys, from concentrating -- and related behaviorial
- "We're doing a better job of identifying
kids with ADHD and because of that there are more prescriptions for Ritalin
being given, and consequently more thefts reported," Allen told AFP.
- "My concern is that we don't throw
the baby out with the bath water," he added. "Ritalin is a safe
and effective drug when taken in regulated doses to treat ADHD."
- Although it is addictive, Ritalin has
minimal short and long-term side effects.
- Allen said children with ADHD were generally
at greater risk for substance abuse, including cocaine abuse, because they
see it as a way to medicate themselves.
- He urged parents and schools to ensure
that Ritalin bottles are locked in a secure place and to closely monitor
use of the drug by ADHD children.