Easing Ritalin prescription process for soldiers

Soldier prescribed with stimulant will not have to visit military neurologist every six months.

Mordechai Sones ,

Stimulants for soldiers
Stimulants for soldiers
The IDF has decided that a soldier diagnosed with ADHD will not have to visit a military neurologist every six months to renew his Ritalin prescription, Israel Hayom reported.

At the beginning of his service every soldier will be able to visit the neurologist only once, and the permit for Ritalin will be renewed once every three months by the unit doctor.

Today, both in health funds (Kupot Cholim) and in the military, waiting times for child neurologists are considered to be particularly long.

Before the current change decided on by the Medical Corps, soldiers were required every six months to see a specialist, wasting time on the roads and causing unnecessary runarounds, increasing the burden on specialists while dealing with long lines to walk out with a prescription - sometimes without ultimately taking the treatment anyway.

Now, like the procedure at the Kupot Cholim, a soldier taking Ritalin will only have to visit a neurologist once. Additional visits will only be made according to medical need, such as to grapple with side-effects or to experiment with dose changes.

Extending the existing permit's validity may also be performed by the unit doctor.

Widespread stimulant treatment, like the ADHD diagnosis itself, is not a matter of medical consensus, however. Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former NIMH consultant Dr. Peter Breggin, in testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, testified that "The ADHD diagnosis is simply a list of the behaviors that most commonly cause conflict or disturbance in classrooms, especially those that require a high degree of conformity."

In this context, Dr. Breggin reviewed the history of ADHD stimulant treatment: "Stimulant drugs, including methylphenidate and amphetamine, were first approved for the control of behavior in children during the mid-1950s," Breggin said. "Since then, there have been periodic attempts to promote their usage, and periodic public reactions against the practice. In fact, the first Congressional hearings critical of stimulant medication were held in the early 1970s when an estimated 100,000-200,000 children were receiving these drugs.

"Stimulant medications are far more dangerous than most practitioners and published experts seem to realize...the Drug Enforcement Administration, and all other drug enforcement agencies worldwide, classify methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) in the same Schedule II category as methamphetamine, cocaine, and the most potent opiates and barbiturates. Schedule II includes only those drugs with the very highest potential for addiction and abuse."