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A Few Simple Truths About ADHD and Stimulant Drugs - By Steve Edelman1, MA, and John Breeding, PhD


Responses to Common Professional Statements Made to Parents About Their Children

Doctors, mental health professionals, and educators often say things about "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" (ADHD) that are unproven. These same professionals often say things about drugs that are supposed to treat "ADHD" that are not true. This article reveals and responds to six common lies or misleading statements you might be told.

1. "ADHD" is a brain-based biological disorder, caused by a chemical imbalance in your child`s brain.

The simple fact is that there is absolutely no reliable test that accurately distinguishes between children that are supposed to have "ADHD" and those that are not. The simplest way to counter this statement is to ask for a medical test to prove that your child has "ADHD." Many physicians will respond to your request by saying that the test is too expensive. You must persevere and ask that your insurance company pay for those tests. You can also ask any professional to show you the article or articles in the scientific literature that proves the existence of a confirmatory physical or chemical abnormality that validates the existence of ADHD as a medical disease. The plain truth is that no such article exists. If someone gives you an article, please share and discuss it with someone who can critically analyze it.

2. The symptoms are clearly printed in a book called the DSM-IV which stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition.

Yes, the "symptoms" are printed there, but as described in point 1, these alleged "symptoms" in no way prove that ADHD is a disease. Furthermore, these "symptoms" are actually nothing more than someone`s observations of your child`s behavior, and the truth is they are not even reliable as behavioral observations. To be reliable, people must agree that your child has "ADHD." An article in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, printed in September 2000, says that the diagnosis is very unreliable. Many children who are supposed to be "ADHD" are not identified, and many children who are identified as not having ADHD are identified as having it. This means that research done to support the identification and treatment of ADHD that uses the DSM-IV definition totally lacks support. It also means that no medical person correctly diagnoses ADHD. ADD and ADHD are politically manufactured concepts, created by committees of the American Psychiatric Association. ADD was create d in 1980, ADHD in 1987. The plain truth is that they are not real diseases in any legitimate scientific meaning of the term disease. To declare otherwise is not medicine; it is fraud.

3. Medication (such as Ritalin) corrects the chemical imbalance.

Remember first there is no demonstrated chemical imbalance (see point 1). The brain does have chemicals that help cells "talk" to each other that are called neurotransmitters. However, when a professional says that one of these chemicals, usually a variety of something called Dopamine, needs some kind of correction, and that they have just the right kind of medicine to do this, you are being misled. This idea assumes that nerves only "talk" to nerves that use the same chemicals. That is absolutely positively false. It is a lie at worst, a gross oversimplification at best. It is unethical for a medical professional to state or imply otherwise.

4. The medication (e.g., Ritalin) is a mild stimulant with few or no side effects.

"Side effect" is a euphemism; all drugs (alleged medications) have a variety of effects. It is vitally important that you personally research the effects of any drug you might consider for your child. Go to the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR), ask your neighborhood pharmacist to print you a list of side effects, and/or get the references listed at the end of this brochure. You need to find out about all possible effects -- those considered common (such as nervousness, insomnia, and loss of appetite, and those considered rare (such as toxic psychosis and death). The lie that Ritalin is a mild stimulant is even more difficult to maintain since a recently concluded study at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, not only confirmed the similarities of cocaine and Ritalin, but found that Ritalin is more potent than cocaine in its effect on the dopamine system in the brain. Referring to Ritalin as "kiddy cocaine" is not a joke.

It is important to know that the use of stimulant medication can mask the symptoms of potentially fatal disorders that could be causing your child`s problems with inattention or activity. It is also important to know that if your child really is having problems with attention and concentration, this could be caused by problems within the class environment (no work breaks, poor environmental temperature regulation, poor acoustics, poor lighting, poor teaching, etc.) or within other areas of your child`s life (nutrition, TV and video overstimulation, family stress and conflict, etc.).

5. If your child had diabetes, you would give him insulin, wouldn`t you?

This is one of the most common, and heinous statements that doctors and other professionals make to parents. It is a heavy guilt trip telling parents they are negligent and irresponsible if they don`t go along with the pressure to drug their children. Remember clearly, as described in point 1 above, that ADHD is in no way a real disease; to imply otherwise is a lie. The truth is that protecting your children from toxic drugs is being completely responsible. It is those who advocate these drugs for children who are abdicating responsibility and avoiding the challenge of truly meeting the needs of our children.

6. You are going against medical advice.

Physicians work for you. There is something called informed consent. If they have given you false or inaccurate information, or attempted to deceive you in any way, then the advice that they have given is faulty and you can justifiably take matters (concerning "ADHD") into your own hands. It is your responsibility to protect the short and long-term health, well-being and development of your child.


Breeding, J. The Wildest Colts Make The Best Horses. Bright Books, 1996.

Breggin, P. Talking Back To Ritalin. Common Courage Press, 1998.

Informative Websites - Dr. Fred Baughman`s excellent website, containing the best of his essays revealing that ADHD is not a real disease. - John Breeding, PhD, posts a wealth of information on psychiatry, parenting and his work as director of Texans For Safe Education. Profiles the work that some of us are doing to provide the truth about the fraudulent and harmful labeling and psychiatric drugging of our children.

This article was created by Steve Edelman, MA, and John Breeding, PhD.

Please copy and distribute widely.

Steve Edelman, MA, is licensed as both a Psychological Associate and a School Psychologist. He is a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for Psychology. He served as President of the North Carolina School Psychology Association from 1994 to 1995. In addition to School Psychology, Mr. Edelman is trained in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. He is skilled in therapy for anxiety disorders such as phobias, mood disorders such as depression, and has over 24 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of attention, concentration, and activity problems in children.

John Breeding, Ph.D., is a psychologist with a well-established private counseling practice in Austin, Texas. A significant part of his work involves counseling with parents and children. He lectures and leads workshops for parents and educators on handling the challenge of a child who is labeled a "problem." He is director of Wildest Colts Resources, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to assist adults in becoming more effective in their work with young people, offering non-drug alternatives to helping young people who are having a hard time. He is also director of Texans For Safe Education, a citizens group dedicated to challenging the ever-increasing role of psychiatry, especially psychiatric drugs, in the schools.

Making the Holidays More Meaningful - By Debbie Milam

Have the holidays become too commercial for you? Are you feeling empty and unfulfilled during this time of the year? This year by making some simple changes you and your children can truly make the holidays more meaningful.

Learn and then teach the spiritual meaning behind your faiths traditions: If you are Jewish explain that the candles are lit on Hanukah to symbolize the light of the Creator in our lives. If you are Christian explain that the wreath is a symbol of unity of all people. Share the beautiful miracles that created Christmas and Hanukah and then have your children share some of the miracles in their own lives.

Teach gratitude during the holidays: Gratitude should not only be for the material presents but for the little blessings in their lives. Begin to have your children tell you each day three things that they are grateful for. This helps children understand the true meaning of the holidays in several ways. First, the children begin to notice the little gifts that they sometimes take for granted, a butterfly, a sunny day, getting to sleep late. Secondly, once they notice these little gifts and are grateful for them they can start bringing more of them into their awareness.

Empower children with tools to make the holidays more meaningful: Spend time discussing topics like what are you the most grateful for? How can you make the world a better place? How can this holiday be more meaningful? What presents make you feel the best? Plan a kind deed day and see who can perform the most random acts of kindness. Write little spiritual notes and leave them in their lunchboxes.

Celebrate differences: Attend a worship service with a friend or a family member of another faith. This exposes children to the marvelous ways we are more similar than different. For it is only when we acknowledge the differences, that we can truly come together in unity.

Give gifts from the heart: Write a story, a letter or a poem for your children. If you are artistic paint a picture for them. Put a photo album or scrapbook together. Record on audiotape your favorite family memories. Make a book of all the reasons you are grateful to have your loved ones in your life. Share a favorite childhood treasure that you saved, like a coin or a doll from your favorite collection. Finally, purchase gifts from charities that donate back to community.

Make community service and helping those less fortunate part of your family holiday activities: There are so many wonderful lessons when we give of ourselves to others. Have your children start or participate in a toy, clothing, or food drive for those less fortunate. By participating in charitable acts your children can learn that they can make a difference in the life of another, that they have a purpose, and that they can be part of the solution.

Slow down enough to enjoy the essence of your children and of the holidays. Our children remember the time and the energy shared as a family not the gifts, the parties or how perfectly the house is decorated. Say no to commitments that are not going to serve the greater good of your family. As Kabril Gibran so eloquently said in The Prophet, ?Our children are but ours for such a short time.? Make this short time a time of wonder and reverence for your children to discover the true meaning of the holidays.

For More Parenting and Stress Management Resources visit us online at

Debbie Milam is a nationally known expert in the areas of spirituality, parenting, and health and wellness. Her work has been featured in First for Women, Elle, Ladies Home Journal, PBS and WebMD. Through her nonprofit organization The Creating Peace Project and its website, she creates workshops and products to inspire adults to discover peace, health and happiness in their lives and the lives of their children.

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