Connecticut Aims to Rein In Ritalin Use

| 1361 hits

HARTFORD, Connecticut, JULY 18, 2001 ( Connecticut has become the first U.S. state to prohibit school personnel from recommending psychiatric drugs for any child.

The law reflects a growing reaction against what some see as overuse of Ritalin and other behavioral drugs.

The measure does not prevent school officials from recommending that a child be evaluated by a medical doctor. But the law is intended to make sure the first mention of drugs for a behavior or learning problem comes from a doctor.

The chief sponsor, state Representative Lenny Winkler, is an emergency room nurse. "I cannot believe how many young kids are on Prozac, Thorazine, Haldol you name it," Winkler was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "It blows my mind."

In the United States, nearly 20 million prescriptions for Ritalin, Adderall and other stimulants used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder -- ADHD, for short -- were written last year, a 35% increase over 1996, according to IMS Health, a health care information company. Most of those prescriptions were for boys under 12, the firm said.

In some elementary and middle schools, as many as 6% of all students take Ritalin or other psychiatric drugs, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Fears about Ritalin and other drugs are widespread. The Texas Board of Education in 2000 adopted a resolution recommending that schools consider nonmedical solutions to behavior problems. The Colorado school board approved a similar resolution a year earlier, and legislation regarding psychiatric drugs in school has been proposed in nearly a dozen states.