Confused about treatment?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2003
Confused about treatment?
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 10:25am
I'm new to this sight and I need help in understanding.

I have a 5 year old that was recently diagnosed with adhd which runs in the family his father , half brother and sister also have it. The PED wants to start him out on ritalin but the more information I get on the drug it scares me. I want to do what is best for my son and make the right choices for him. I guess I'm looking for reassurance and guidance from other moms that have felt this way. Just a note my husband and I are recovering addicts and have been for some time now but to put our 5 year on a drug scares me. Also in my case I will always have his twin to compare him to.

Please Help me in understanding.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 3:25pm
Is he suggesting the short acting Ritalin?

Both my pediatrician and pediatric neurologist always start on the long acting versions now. My 9 yo. DS is on Adderall XR, a long acting stimulant similar to Ritalin. My 6 yo. DD is taking a new drug called Strattera. This drug is a non-stimulant and works 24 hours vs. the 10 to 12 hours you get even on the long acting stimulants. The downside of this drug is it takes several weeks before a full effect is seen.

What are your concerns? My DS did lose weight, but had some to lose. He leveled out at about 5 months into his treatment. His doctor said to make sure he had a good breakfast and supper. She is also very interested in his sleep. She believes that with proper diet and sleep, growth patterns are maintained. DS is staying on his growth curve.

As far as taking a "drug", taking therapeutic doses of Ritalin or its cousins is actually believed to reduce the chances of drug abuse later on. Many ADHD people who abuse drugs and alcohol are thought to be unconsciously seeking relief from their symptoms.

I felt the same way you did a year ago. But, the research I did convinced me that the highest rate of successful treatment resulted from the combination of medication and therapy. Today, I'm glad my DS is doing so much better.

Good luck.

Avatar for keke0116
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 7:02pm
Medication prescribed by a doc to treat a particular disorder is not necessarily habit-forming nor can it be likened to an addiction. A child diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed meds for that is no different than a child with diabetes who has been prescribed insulin. It is a specific medication used to treat a specific ailment/issue/ disorder ... nothing more, nothing less. So, the fact that you and DH are recovering addicts should not prevent you from giving your child a prescribed medication to help him.

Now, with that said ... there are choices other than Ritalin, and you probably should do some research on your options. Ritalin, for instance, is a stimulant that is generally given in 2 doses per day ... which means that the school (usually) is involved in administering medication. For me, that wasn't something I wanted. Adderall comes in regular and time release formulas ... the former is like Ritalin, given in 2 doses, and the later is 1 x per day. (I've heard that many kids become more aggressive on the Adderall X/R.) Concerta is another stimulant given once per day. Strattera is a new med, and a non-stimulant, supposed to have a longer effect than the others. Point is that ADHD is the diagnosis ... but there is more than one 'treatment' for that.

BTW, I was anti-drugs for years when it came to my DS who was actually diagnosed with ODD at age 5, and not ADHD until 4-5 years later! ODD isn't medically treated which was a relief to me ... I really didn't want him on meds. But, the truth is, my prejudice against meds prevented me from getting all the answers I needed sooner ... which left all of us to suffer and struggle much longer than we had to. There ARE risks and possible side effects in every choice of meds you have ... and what you need to do is to weigh the pros and cons and see if the benefits outweigh the side effects. But, if he does have ADHD and the doc suggests meds, and the fact that this is hereditary, it seems to me that the choice isn't 'should we medicate' but more 'which med would be the best option for him.'

Good luck.



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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 11:58am
We started on the short-acting Ritalin when DS was about 6. It was my doctor's first choice because of it's short acting nature and the fact that it had been in use for a long time, was the best studied, etc. Once we found the right dose, it worked well for us for about 10 months. Then we switched to Concerta. The Concerta works well, but we've also had sleep difficulties (which have been helped a lot with Melatonin).

One of the things that made it easier for me to go with the medication option was one study which showed the rate of drug usage among 3 groups of adolescent boys: those who did not have ADD/ADHD, those with ADD/ADHD who were treated with stimulant medications, and those who were ADD/ADHD and not treated. As you might guess, the non-ADD group had the lowest rate of drug abuse. The stimulant group was only a tiny bit higher. The non-treated group was WAY up there (I want to say around 50%). We also had a good bit of substance abuse in our family - DH is a recovering alcoholic; FIL, as well, so it kind of makes you wonder if they were 'self-medicating'.

All of that being said, I can appreciate the difficulties in putting a 5 year old on medication. My youngest was diagnosed in February this year right before his 6th birthday. He is doing 'OK' in school right now, and for now I have not gone the medication route with him.



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