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A girl who lacks the concentration to read a book in one sitting has a mental illness and needs a drug to help her focus. An enthusiastic boy who blurts out answers before the teacher finishes asking the question requires medication to correct the problem.

Drugging kids is the modern and destructive approach to profiting from children whose behavior is somehow different from what parents, teachers, social workers, and child psychologists perceive as ideal.

These behaviors and many others that were once joyous parts of being young have become the “disease” called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and its even stronger cousin Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).Because of these newly invented “conditions”, pharmaceutical companies are able to reap huge profits by medicating children with powerful psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall.

For most of human history, nobody thought that children who were active and enthusiastic were problems. They were just children. They were boys having childhood fun. Boys who climbed trees and rode their bikes all over town were normal. Girls who did those things were tomboys. Now, those behaviors can earn a child an ADHD label and a prescription for a medication that can turn him or her into a little zombie.

While ADD and ADHD are everywhere in 2008, they’re actually very new. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided that ADD is a “mental disorder”. This designation came without hard scientific evidence, and it was done by show of hands at a committee meeting.

The ADD label is an example of one person having a bad idea and everybody else following along. Now, the prevalence of the ADD label is so great that 10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages of 6 and 14 in the United States have been marked as having ADD. At one school in San Diego, 65 percent of the fifth graders had an ADD diagnosis and were taking an expensive medication.

Despite those numbers, many experts in child behavior argue strongly that ADHD is a complete fraud. Dr. Fred Baughman, a pediatric neurologist, has consistently blasted his own profession for its part in what he calls a chemical holocaust against children.

Dr. Peter Breggin, a highly respected psychiatrist, is the founder of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP.Org), and he is a strong critic of the abuse of psychiatric drugs. He has been called “the conscience of psychiatry”, and his articles and books provide an expert’s views on the practice of drugging kids for profit.

Although Ritalin has been around since 1955, much longer than ADD, the FDA has never required Novartis, the manufacturer, to do a study on the drug’s long-term effects on users, even though the list of negative effects is frightening and long.

Heart problems are one common trouble for Ritalin users, and the death certificate of 14 year old Matthew Smith read “Death caused from Long Term Use of Methylphenidate, Ritalin.” Carrie Ann Smith started Ritalin in first grade and died at 27 from leukemia.

The harm that can be caused by drugging children is designed to enhance the bottom lines of the companies that push these highly profitable poisons. With help from their willing accomplices in research centers and university faculties, drug companies are making fortunes as they treat children as nothing more than opportunities for increased profits.

Until 1980, children with energy and minds that wander were normal. Then somebody saw their behavior as a potential profit center. The result is that we now have a generation raised on Ritalin and Adderall and suffering the consequences. It’s time to make the drug companies pay for the damage that they’re willingly inflicting upon young people.

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Richard Alexander