The Seattle Times talks with Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, author of Running on Ritalin, on how views of ADHD have changed in the 15 years since he published the book.
Q: On pressing for nondrug treatments before Ritalin, are you still swimming against the tide?
A: I’ve never been against medicine; have prescribed it for 32 years.
Pills represent efficiency, and effective nondrug interventions like special education or behavior-modification value engagement with the child. The medical and educational systems value efficiency. Parents, when offered a choice initially between efficiency and engagement, almost always choose engagement. However, when offered the choice of only a pill or nothing, they’ll take the pill. And that’s often the only choice they’re given.
So I remain a relatively lonely professional voice pointing out this moral dilemma. But it is greatly edifying that when people hear the full message, they invariably say, “You know, he’s right.”
Dr. Diller is correct there are many studies that show that things like exercise can be as effective as drugs like Ritalin in controlling what we call a disease.