(c) By Lawrence T. Smith. Used with permission.
I want to warn parents of the risks involved in giving children stimulant medications used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). These behaviors are listed in the DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD.
Our fourteen-Year-old Son Matthew died on March 21, 2000. The cause was determined to be from the long-term (age 7-14) use of Methylphenidate a medication commonly known as Ritalin.
The Certificate of Death under due to, (or because of) reads, Death caused from Long Term Use of Methylphenidate, (Ritalin). According to Dr. Ljuba Dragovic, The chief pathologist in Oakland County Michigan, upon autopsy, Matthew's heart showed clear signs of small vessel damage, the type caused by stimulant drugs like amphetamines.
The medical examiners told me that a full-grown man's heart weighs about 350 grams and that Matthew's heart weight was about 402 grams.
Matthew did not have a preexisting heart disease or defect that we knew of. We, his parents never ignored his medical needs. The medical examiner said this type of heart damage is not easy to detect with the standard test necessary for prescription refills.
While visiting the doctor with the school's diagnosis and the recommendation for Ritalin, he seemed very frustrated and asked us to let the school know, "I am not a pharmacy." This leads me to believe that we were not the first parents sent to this doctor, with the schools diagnosis and recommendation for Ritalin.
No one ever informed us of other crucial tests (echocardiogram) that we could have had done that would have discovered the enlargement of the heart muscle, caused from scare tissue which these types of drugs cause. The standard test performed consists of blood work, listening to the heart, questions about school behaviors, sleeping and eating habits.
It all started for Matthew in the first grade the school social worker in Berkley, Michigan kept calling us in for meetings. One particular morning before an IEP meeting, the school social worker Monica Fuchs, my wife and I, were waiting on the others to arrive.
Monica made us feel very threatened when she said that if we wouldn't consider getting Matt on Ritalin for their diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, that Social Services (Child Protective Services) could charge us for neglecting his educational and emotional needs. My wife and I were scared of the possibility of losing our children, if we did not comply.
I believe that some school employees like having children medicated because, it makes frustrated students that are having a difficult time learning and understanding, easier to manage, regardless of the physical and psychological risks this practice poses to children.
Not all families can afford hundreds of dollars for a drug free, private evaluation, so they will not be cornered into medicating their child. I am hoping that Republicans and Democrats will work together and fight this horrific war against the future of America, our children.
Medical diagnosis should remain outside the realm of education and stay there. Pressure to seek specific medical treatment is not the job of the school system.
We did not want Matthew on any medications, even though the school social worker or the doctor never informed us about the dangers of Ritalin and other stimulant medications used for ADD and ADHD. We just didn't feel good about putting our son on drugs and we made it very clear to school officials.
"Informed Consent", which states in part "A person's agreement to allow something to happen [such as surgery] that is based on a full disclosure of the facts needed to make the decision intelligently; i.e. knowledge of risks involved, alternatives etc" and "the probable risks against the probable benefits."
The violation of parent's rights is when they are not told of the unscientific nature of so-called disorders such as ADHD or the risks of the treatments involving (drugs) and they certainly are not told of alternatives to their child's behavior such as undiagnosed allergies or food sensitivities, which could manifest with the symptoms of what psychiatry calls ADHD.
If we weren't pressured by the school system, Matt would still be alive today. I cannot go back and change things for us at this point. However, I hope to God my story and information will reach the hearts and minds, of many families, so they can make an educated decision with more than a little selective information, if any, paid for by psychology and drug companies.
I have created a website in hopes that parents will learn the health risks involved in using psychotropic medications on growing children.
I hope you will be spared all the suffering and heartbreak this whole ADHD issue has caused our family and many others.
Please do not be intimidated by family, school staff, doctors, or anyone into medicating your child for ADHD or ADD. These mental illnesses are scientifically unfounded with no scientific validity what so ever. The dopamine theory is nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry.
I truly believe this must have been my son's purpose, to save the health and lives of many others.
How old will people live after taking these types of drugs as a child? Every time I hear about a child or young adult that has died from heart failure, I always wonder if they were ever on a psychotropic medication used for ADHD or depression.
If I would of known about all the children that have died from these psychiatric medications, I would have never given Matt the first pill.
Did you know that children that are diagnosed as having ADHD or ADD and take medication, the school labels them as learning disabled, and the schools receives additional state and federal funding per-child, per-semester.
I wonder if that is one of the reasons why school administrators are so adamant about medication, and the other would be to control their behavior, in their drug free school zone.
One of the hardest things for me to deal with is the fact that, Matthew never wanted his medication.
How many more 11-year-old Stephanie Hall's and 14-year-old Matthew Smith's will have to die before someone puts a stop to the biggest health care fraud ever? How many times will school psychology and drug companies get away with this?
In 1998 at the National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on ADHD The NIH issued the following statement regarding ADHD:
Did you know that the ADHD diagnosis checklist of behaviors is almost the same as the list of behaviors for gifted children (see the web site at http://www.nfgcc.org).
Did you know that doctor's use to give amphetamines out for diet medication? They stopped because of the dangerous and sometimes fatal heart related side effects.
Now drug companies have a new market, with new names for the drugs and have went from adult weight medication to children's ADHD.
The DEA has classified Ritalin as a schedule two drug, comparable to Cocaine. Ritalin is also one of the top ten abused prescription drugs on the streets today.
From the research that I have done on amphetamines, when they are used, all the veins and arteries constrict and get very small which makes it hard for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. The extra force it takes to circulate blood causes damage to the heart.
There are many other drugs that are given to children for ADHD with different names; Adderall, Concreta, Metadate, Ritalin, the list goes on and on, most if not all are stimulant drugs with Amphetamine-Speed.
We are coming to a point in our history were children have been taking these drugs for some time. Now the information is starting to come out. This is a very sad why for us to find out the long-term side effects, by using our children as guinea pigs.