Giving kids Ritalin so they'll get As
Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills
Pediatricians report increasing requests for 'academic doping'
Some parents eager to boost their kids' academic performance see hope in a bottle.
By Victoria Clayton for MSNBC, Sept. 7, 2006
Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they've heard about the illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for "academic doping." Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure pediatricians for them.
Academic doping — using these stimulant prescriptions in an effort to enhance focus, concentration and mental stamina — first started on college campuses, especially Ivy League and exclusive, competitive schools. Now, the problem is filtering down to secondary schools, Yates says, and more parents are playing a role in obtaining prescription ADHD medication for their teenagers.
Yates isn't entirely surprised that parents ask for it. He believes that most families simply have a heartfelt — if shockingly misdirected — desire for their children to do their best.
Yet some parents will do whatever it takes to keep opportunities from slipping through a child's fingers — even outright lying to doctors to get the drugs, says Rater.
And some pill-eager parents aren't just seeking to level the playing field, they're trying to make their kids superstars, says Dr. Martin Stein, a professor of clinical pediatrics at University of California, San Diego.
Privileged kids tend to have parents who will push them to be the academic cream of the crop and when they aren't, they'll start looking for reasons why, he says.
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