It seems that whenever I turn the radio or TV on lately, there is somebody talking about the staggering numbers of kids being treated for ADHD. The very latest CDC (Center for Disease Control) data show that nearly one in five high school-age boys in the United States and 11% of school-age children across the country have been diagnosed with ADHD. The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages four through 17 have received an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives – a 53% rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. These are astronomical and chilling numbers.
It would seem to me that we simply have to come to the conclusion that whatever we are doing to prevent, diagnose and treat ADHD, is absolutely not working. The stimulants that millions of kids are taking are mostly good only for the pharmaceutical companies. Yes, there are many families and kids that will say that the drugs improve their lives, but at what long-term cost? And then there are the tragic cases where the drugs have caused addiction, anxiety, psychosis and suicide. I recently watched an interview on TV with tears streaming down my face, as several moms and dads told their story of the suicide of their child.
Every story had the same shocking themes:
- How doctors rush to medicate, sometimes even before they meet the child. One doctor said he would not see the child until he was medicated. I wonder whether this could be because the doctor suspected that the child would be hyperactive, making the visit more difficult and time consuming, thereby upsetting his schedule?!
- How they, as parents, at first resisted the idea of medication.
- How doctors, educators and other parents made them feel as though they were hurting the child by not giving them the meds and so they eventually relented.
- How their doctors did not tell these that they there is a far better option than prescribed drugs – an option that is helping thousands upon thousands of kids lose their diagnosis of ADHD by identifying and removing the real underlying cause of the problem, rather than drugging the symptom.
- How they watched helplessly as the medication changed the child’s personality.
- How their doctors treated these personality changes by trying different or additional medications, all of which made the problems worse.
Those who know me and my approach are aware that I am not against medication per se. I am in favor of medication but only as a last resort when the option of finding and treating the underlying cause has been tried with the right doctors and has failed. My own clinical experience is that the percentage of this happening is extremely low.
I know that many parents reading this are very happy with the result they are getting from the ADHD medication their child is taking. Know that I honor your right to make the decisions that feel right to you. All I ask is that you become aware of what the latest research is showing and keep an open mind to hearing about how children and adults are changing their lives for the better without having to rely on medication. I simply ask parents not to unintentionally collude with a medical system that devalues the option of looking for underlying root causes and instead rushes to medicate the symptoms.