ADHD* is a way to describe a group of symptoms resulting from impaired uptake of dopamine to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. How much of that is genetic or lifestyle is debatable. In 20 years, there has been a 20 percent increase in diagnoses.
But non-ADHD kids trying to make it through the rigors of study are increasingly given ADHD meds to give them a mental boost. A new report from the American Academy of Neurology declares that the increasing use of ADHD drugs – often termed ‘study drugs’ – on healthy kids is unjustifiable. Whether it be parent requests, doctors over-prescribing, young people taking them without prescriptions, or substance abuse. Their study abstract stated:
Neurodevelopmental issues include the importance of evolving personal authenticity during childhood and adolescence, the emergence of individual decision-making capacities, and the process of developing autonomy.
Just an observation: it seems that it is much, much easier for children and teens to be placed on narcotics like Ritalin and Adderall than it is for adults – why do you think that is?
An adult has to prove a history of symptoms and sometimes a job loss resulting from ADHD symptoms yet children who often exhibit those symptoms naturally while growing up seem to get the green card. The AAN did note more use from adults as well.
Here are a few things to ponder:
- Are public school demands becoming too burdensome?
- Is this part of the push to reach ‘outcome-based’ demands for standardized tests – which often determine funding?
- Are teachers having difficulty meeting No Child Left Behind demands and pressuring parents for med help for sub-par performance?
- Are children simply losing interest? Do they need another way to learn?
- Is the Western world encouraging too much competition and personal comparisons?
- Are doctors standing to benefit somehow from writing these prescriptions?
I worry that we’re focusing too much on the downside and it will deter people from getting the help they need. We have a lot of good evidence about the use [of medications] and it is clearly effective in the short term for treating the symptoms you see with ADHD. (Source)
But this further highlights the AAN’s points, and they call for more health studies on non-ADHD kids who are taking these drugs.
There are other ways to help children and teens with their daily functions and dopamine uptake without narcotics that are, at best, temporarily effective at certain dosages; and, at worst, dangerous or habit forming. But alternative methods are not patented or generally recognized by medical associations. The book Lunch Lessons showed how getting kids involved in growing their own food at school and changing the lunches led to better grades, behavior, and test scores.
Please share your thoughts below.
*The new medical term to describe both non-attentive ADD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is simply ADHD
Read other articles by Heather Callaghan