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Drugs for ADHD – Side Effects and Repercussions


ADD/ADHD is North America’s leading childhood psychiatric disorder. When the following behaviour is pervasive and continues for at least 6 months, children are usually diagnosed with ADD/ADHD:

  • Restless
  • Fidgets and squirms
  • Lack of attention to detail
  • Failure to follow through on instructions and failure to complete homework
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others
  • Blurts out answers
  • Loses or forgets important things
  • Talks excessively
  • Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly

You will notice that many of these behaviours are commonly found in children as well as adults!  Unfortunately, 90% of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) are prescribed Ritalin or similar drugs.  Ritalin is actually a class 2 controlled narcotic, in the same category as cocaine, and is highly susceptible to abuse and dependence.  The two most common side effects of Ritalin are insomnia and lack of appetite – lack of sleep and lack of nutrients, pretty major side effects.  And most of the children that are prescribed Ritalin, end up becoming a shell of their former selves because a type of numbness sets in.  Other side effects of Ritalin include:

  • Stunting of growth
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Heart problems
  • Violent behaviour
  • Suicide

In the fall of 2012, The Toronto Star ran a series of articles on the dangers of ADD/ADHD drugs, stating that Health Canada had kept over 600 serious adverse reactions a secret. Here are some of the statistics they shared with readers;

  • Four deaths occurred, one girl dying from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2011
  • 20 children were diagnosed with psychotic disorders
  • More than 40 kids suffered depression
  • 24 had convulsions
  • 48 had hallucinations
  • 20 overdoses, eight of them intentional – one of the boys was only 10
  • 3 strokes
  • 28 cases of heart problems – an 8 year old suffered a heart attack
  • 23 cases involving damaged livers – a 12 year old died in 2007 after developing a liver tumour

Other side effects experienced by 7 year olds included sleep terrors, emotional disorders, weight loss, chest pain, muscle twisting, intentional self-injury, staring and fecal incontinence.

There are a number of ways in which nutritionists treat ADD/ADHD naturally, through dietary and supplementary changes.  The number one culprit for ADD/ADHD is the chemicals in our food.  Sugar is another culprit.  Other common allergens contribute as well.  And fish oils or other essential fatty acids can make a huge difference to a child with ADD/ADHD.  More boys than girls are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and more boys than girls are deficient in Essential Fatty Acids.  There is a lot to try naturally; I encourage parents to look into these options before resorting to drugs.

How about you? Has your family experienced a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD? Share your stories with me. I love receiving feedback. And feel free to leave a link back to your own blog too if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site.

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Until next time,


Meredith Deasley

Certified Life Coach, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Spiritual Vitality Expert - Published Author, Speaker, and Teacher.


  1. Karen Armstrong on April 3, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I am so happy to see you lay out some of the truths about the way we tend to handle ADHD Meredith, our children are really suffering when we do not look at all options and of course choosing the natural options first! I have even run into many Enneagram Type 7’s who are typically diagnosed with ADHD and yet it is a natural expression of their active mental energy and attraction to stimulating activities that does not fit into the box type education system we have created. Keep up the great articles!

    • Meredith on April 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Thank you for your confirmation of this phenomenon, Karen – I really appreciate you taking the time to write. And thank you for your support; you know you always have mine.


  2. Bob on April 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Meredith,

    Great information! I agree with you about the importance of proper nutrition and minimizing exposure of children the the nasty ingredients in what most moms buy to feed their families.

    When I see ADHD “diagnosed” children who are on one of the class II narcotics I’ve recognized the same pattern you refer to as “a numbness setting in”. Some parents refer to this as the “zombie effect”. By this time the personality of the child has receded into the background. I have had parents in tears as they see their child’s spirit re-engage after their nervous system function is improved!

    As a vitalistic chiropractor I also locate and correct spinal subluxation at the most vital area of the upper spine. Subluxation is a spinal misalignment to the extent that it disturbs the communications between the brain and body. A gentle adjustment taps the area specifically to restore proper function of the whole child.

    Meredith, if you have not had this healing art demonstrated to you I have portable neurological assessment tools I can bring to you or you can connect with me to arrange a visit to my Uptown Keswick Office location. I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for sharing information that will change lives!

    Bob Pike, D.C.
    ps: I am offering a ADHD talk on April 17th if you’d be interested in my approach and insights.

    • Meredith on April 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Thank you so much for your response and your insight Dr. Pike. I wrote about how chiropractic is helping with ADHD, in my book, and continue to spread the word about this. I hope that people will attend your seminar, as a result of your response to my post. And thank you for helping these children and their families.


  3. Kristina Bramma on April 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Hi Meredith,

    I read your blog post on ADHD. I was in touch with you a few years ago about food sensitivities for one of my sons. This past year, we have found out about other food sensitivities for my other son (the usual wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs), but we also found out that he has ADD tendencies (the psychologist didn’t want to diagnose him with ADD because it isn’t affecting him at school).

    The thing that I wanted to mention to you is the treatment that we have found to be very helpful. We have been taking our son to a place in Toronto called the ADD Centre. The treatment protocol at the ADD Centre is neurofeedback. We have been quite careful with food for our kids well before ADD was even a thought in our homes, so it’s hard for me to really say how much food has affected my son’s behaviour. However, I can tell that when he has been eating bad food, his behaviour is worse. But the neurofeedback treatment has made a HUGE difference in how my son deals with his ADD. It hasn’t altered or changed his personality at all, it has just given him tools to be able to recognize and deal with his inability to focus at times. The psychologist (Dr. Lynda Thompson) said the feedback she receives most often is that the child has matured with the treatment, and that is most certainly true for our son as well.

    I wanted to write to you about this so that you can include this in your recommendations to other families for dealing with ADD/ADHD without resorting to drugs. It has been a long few months of driving to Toronto from the Durham Region twice a week for treatments, but it has been well worth it and we highly recommend it.

    Let me know if you want any more information on the ADD Centre.


    • Meredith on April 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Yes I remember you! I am so happy to hear this! Thank you so much for this information. I have heard from others that neurofeedback has been helping. I wish you continued success!

  4. John Gatesby on November 10, 2023 at 7:29 am

    Your post on ADD/ADHD is both enlightening and deeply concerning, shedding light on the pervasive nature of the disorder and the heavy reliance on medications like Ritalin with serious side effects. You’ve presented a stark view into the alarming statistics and real-life impacts of drug treatment, compelling readers to consider natural alternatives seriously. The connection you’ve drawn between dietary factors and ADD/ADHD symptoms is especially notable, offering a glimmer of hope for non-pharmacological interventions. Your encouragement for a deeper dive into natural remedies before resorting to medication resonates with the growing desire for holistic health approaches.

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