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Crosscurrents

Are doctors over-prescribing Ritalin?

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Under CC license by Flickr user Ian Barbour
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Thirty years ago, it was rare for a kid to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Today, about five million children carry that diagnosis -- and more than two million of them are taking the drugs used to treat its symptoms.

Methylphenidate is a pharmaceutical most commonly-prescribed for ADHD. Its most well known trade name is Ritalin. It’s a psycho-stimulant drug that’s also used to manage obsessive-compulsive disorder, narcolepsy, and depression. But, pediatrician Sandy Newmark thinks it’s over-prescribed.

Dr. Newmark is the founder of the Center for Pediatric Integrative Medicine, and the author of ADHD without Drugs: A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD. He treats children primarily through non-medical remedies: nutrition, herbal supplements, behavioral changes, and homeopathy.

In this piece from our archives, KALW’s Hana Baba visits Dr. Newmark at his Belmont clinic to talk about the uptick in pharmaceutical treatment for ADHD.

HANA BABA: Is it the easy route? Is that what it is?

DR. SANDY NEWMARK: Yeah it is. I think it’s not just pediatricians. It’s our whole society isn’t it? The pill is the easy easy route. We like to have a pill to fix things.

Click the audio player above to hear the complete interview.

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.