Talking About ADHD

The Most Common Myths About ADHD — Busted!

Fight ADHD misinformation with the bright light of truth.

The word "facts" circled in red marker, representative of Dr. Amen's approach to healing ADHD
Choosing Facts instead of Myths. Facts selected with red marker.

MYTH: ADHD is a new diagnosis.

FACT: The symptoms that describe ADHD were published in the respected medical journal Lancet in 1902. The name for the disorder has changed over the years, as researchers have learned more about it. But the primary symptoms remain the same as first described by George Fredrick Still.

MYTH: The use of Ritalin is a fairly recent development.

FACT: Ritalin has been in use for over 45 years. Dexedrine was used for ten years before that. The change from Dexedrine to Ritalin was made because Ritalin has a lower potential for abuse and dependency.

MYTH: Schools make money by having children diagnosed as ADHD.

FACT: Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools receive a small amount of financial support for each child in special education regardless of the disability. Figures vary, but the amount is between $450 and $600 – hardly enough to compensate for the expense required to teach a special needs student.

MYTH: Violence in schools (in Columbine, Jonesboro, and others) is caused by children on medication.

FACT: Not true. From what we know, about half of these kids were on medications. The other half were not. That amounts to about 7 students who shot up schools out of over 6 million prescriptions for Ritalin. School violence is caused by a number of factors. Medication use does NOT appear to be one of them.

MYTH: Ritalin is a gateway drug to other drug abuse.

FACT: Not true for ADHD people. Studies indicate that ADHD kids who take medication are less likely to develop problems with substance abuse. Ritalin is usually abused by people who do not have ADHD.

MYTH: Ritalin puts holes in your brain.

FACT: Not true. This myth came from the PET images of the ADHD brain, which measures heat and blood flow, not the actual image of the brain. The “holes” are areas where there is less blood flow. There are no physical holes in the brain.

MYTH: Ritalin is like cocaine.

FACT: There are some chemical similarities. Both Ritalin and cocaine are stimulants. However, Ritalin when used as prescribed does not behave in the body like cocaine. In order to get the “cocaine effect,” users have to crush and sniff or inject the chemical into their body. People have died from doing this.

Myth: Ritalin is so bad that there was a lawsuit filed to stop people from getting it.

FACT: To date, of the five lawsuits that were filed regarding this, four have been dismissed by judges after hearing the facts.