Virtually every 'problem kid' in the United States is diagnosed as being hyperactive, and so is prescribed a stimulant such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) or Adderall (methamphetamine).
Around five million children in the USA are taking some prescribed stimulant to treat their hyperactivity. Production of Ritalin has increased by 730 per cent between 1992 and 2000, while Adderall production has soared by 2500 per cent. The market for legal stimulant use in the USA is a cool $1 billion a year.
This exponential growth has been fuelled, in part, by an intensive advertising campaign to doctors and parents, and also to the sweeping, and often inappropriate, diagnosis of hyperactivity, or ADHD. It's also been used on children who are unruly, and on enhancing their performance at school.
Not content with making America a junkie culture, the manufacturers are now turning to Europe in general, and the UK in particular, to increase sales even further.
Currently, UK doctors prescribe only one-tenth of the Ritalin that their US counterparts prescribe, although this figure is slowly climbing.
The drug manufacturers now want to see a more rapid acceleration in the UK, warns leading American paediatrician Dr Lawrence Diller.
So, if your child 'suddenly' develops ADHD, and your doctor prescribes Ritalin or one of its competitors, you will know where the squeeze is coming from.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2003; 326: 67).