This is your brain on drugs

This is your brain on drugs

The drugmakers say that no studies have been done showing that ADHD drugs are safe or unsafe to use long-term. I have two things to say about that. First, if they really have no idea whether they’re safe to take the drugs for long periods of time, WHY on earth are they giving them to children for years on end?

But besides that, long-term studies HAVE been done on the drugs. They’re not telling you about them because not one of them came out the way they would like.

Doctor Joan Baizer, a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Buffalo, led a study on brain changes due to methyl-phenidate, the generic name for a number of ADHD drugs. “Clinicians consider [methyphenidate] to be short-acting,” she said. “When the active dose has worked its way through the system, they consider it ‘all gone.’ Our research with gene expression in an animal model suggests that it has the potential for causing long-lasting changes in brain cell structure and function.” Just like long-term use of any Schedule II stimulant drug.

Most parents and teachers think the drugs are necessary in order for the children to learn and to be successful in school. In reality, studies have shown that they lead to brain shrinkage. Brain shrinkage!! One of the studies, published as far back as 1986 in Psychiatry Research, showed that young male adults who had taken methylphenidate drugs for a period of time actually had mild cerebral atrophy (a.k.a., brain shrinkage).

Ten years later, another study, this one published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that “subjects with ADHD had a 4.7 percent smaller total cerebral volume.” Ninety-three percent of the subjects (53 of 57) had been treated with psycho-stimulants.

At the American Society of Adolescent Psychology in 1998, a psychologist named James Swanson reported on research that showed brain atrophy in children with ADHD. Interestingly, the brain atrophy did not show up in controls. I can only assume that by “controls,” he means children not “diagnosed” with ADHD–and not taking any methylphenidate drugs.

Sure, there was shrinkage all right. But it had nothing to do with ADHD and everything to do with the drug. When neurologist Fred Baughman, M.D., questioned Swanson on this point, Swanson reluctantly admitted that 93 percent of the subjects in the study had been on chronic stimulant therapy.

With this research, Swanson and his colleagues had proven the case that methyphenidate is the disease producer and is a cure for nothing. Dr. Baughman said, “Instead of confirmation of brain atrophy due to ADHD we had strong, replicated, evidence that it was the stimulant therapy (methylphenidate, amphetamine) that was the cause of the brain atrophy.”

Of course, this acknowledgment was conveniently left out of Swanson’s lecture and was also missing from his review of this research in a February 1998 Lancet article. To admit this would be shooting himself in the foot, and shooting a serious–if not fatal–blow to the Big Pharma methyphenidate money machine.

Here’s a novel idea: State medical associations should introduce to their legislatures a bill that will require all patients being put on ADHD drugs to have a brain scan before treatment is initiated. The tragic result–brain shrinkage–would prove, once and for all, that psychiatrists have been assaulting and killing our children for decades. It would be hard to cheat on a test like this. Radiologists are generally neutral on these medical issues. Besides, they’re obsessed with accuracy in their reports. As they should be.