Pushing drugs in school

Diagnosed as hyperactive in first grade, Ted Gup’s son was prescribed Ritalin and Adderall, Gup writes in the New York Times.

In another age, David might have been called “rambunctious.” His battery was a little too large for his body. And so he would leap over the couch, spring to reach the ceiling and show an exuberance for life that came in brilliant microbursts.

When he was older, he sold his Adderall to classmates, who saw it as a performance-enhancing drug.

As a 21-year-old college senior, he was found on the floor of his room, dead from a fatal mix of alcohol and drugs.

“I had unknowingly colluded with a system that devalues talking therapy and rushes to medicate, inadvertently sending a message that self-medication, too, is perfectly acceptable,” writes the grieving father.

Now psychiatrists have defined grief as depression, which “runs the very real risk of delegitimizing that which is most human — the bonds of our love and attachment to one another.”  Gup does not plan to take a pill to dull his grief for his son.

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  1. Ruth Joy says:

    I do think teachers who push parents to get their kids on drugs are also complicit.

    • palisadesk says:

      In some districts, including mine, it is *illegal* for teachers to do so or, indeed, to recommend or suggest any particular medical treatment. What we *can* do is strongly recommend parents get their child a thorough examination by a physician (usually a pediatrician), and we can provide a letter for the parent to take to the doctor which describes *what we observe* in school. This can include attention issues but cannot even whisper a suggestion of a diagnosis or treatment.

      I think recommending a thorough physical exam is a good idea. I have had students who presented with so-called ADHD “symptoms”(which I described without attributing any cause), who turned out to have physical problems including liver disease, thyroid malfunction, benign brain tumor, cardiac arhythmia and seizure disorders.

      I am not allowed to suggest cough drops let alone Ritalin! Not only would it be a misdemeanor under a law with a title like the medical practices act, it is also grounds for revoking one’s teaching license. If a school official, including teachers, makes a recommendation for a treatment or therapy in an official capacity, and this can be documented, the school district is responsible for the costs of same.

      So at least some of us watch what we say.

  2. My guess is that, in fifty years, the current practice of drugging school-age children will be considered as barbaric as the 1920s eugenics programs are considered today.

    The idea that a large percentage of school-age children need to be drugged into submission is just preposterous and I hope that all of the adults who have fostered and facilitated this absurd practice are consigned to a dustbin in history right alongside the benighted fools who advocated “scientific” eugenics.

    • Stacy in NJ says:


      There are many areas that are going to cause consternation and regret: diet, healthcare, education, economics being the obvious.