A few days ago a client copied me on an email she had sent to a friend. She was telling her friend about the work I do and described me as ‘a campaigner against over medicating kids with prescription drugs.’ So I would like to set the record straight. Yes it is true – I am against drugging kids, but only when drugs are the first, and sometimes the only solution offered for treating learning and behavior problems. I am not against using prescription medication as a last resort and my own experience is that this last resort solution happens in only a very small number of children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.
Now I guess that some reading today’s article are at a stage where they are agonizing over whether or not they should go ahead and give their child the medication that the doctor is recommending. I guess that some readers have already made the decision to do so. I know that some who have made this decision are delighted with the results – and some are not. My reason for writing this article is not to convince you not to medicate your child or to take your child off the medication. I am asking you to read some of the facts and findings and keep these in mind for any current or future decisions you may be faced with regarding the best treatment plans for your children.
Every child with behavior challenges and learning problems is unique – and every parent has to find their own path to healing. My goal is to keep parents informed and updated with the latest research and information so that they are able to make decisions based on the very latest facts.
Perhaps some of what I write in this article can be considered contentious and so references are available for readers who want like to see these. You can find these references in my FREE eBook.
We have an Epidemic
- In 2013 the CDC (Center for Disease Control) data 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.
- Use of Ritalin increased 800% in last 10 years.
- On average there are one to three children who have ADHD in every classroom of thirty students.
- One in 5 kids entering school will be diagnosed with some learning, behavior or social condition.
- About 60% of kids with ADHD become adults with ADHD. This translates into 4% of the adult population (8 million adults)
These are astronomical and chilling numbers.
Children between the ages of 5-19 who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are being prescribed psychotropic medications in rapidly increasing numbers. It is well documented that children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD have a 5.5 times greater risk for later onset of alcohol/drug abuse than the normal population. This is because the same neurochemical imbalance in their brain that is related to the learning and behavior problems can also produce a predisposition to impulsive, addictive and compulsive behaviors. The medications given to these kids can launch them into more dangerous behaviors and substance abuse. Evidence shows that a high potential of teenage offenders have been on drugs such as Ritalin, among others.
Clearly there are all kinds of factors that play into whether a child becomes an addict or turns to crime but the point I want to make is this: Why go down this path in the first place, why place the child at risk when there is another, highly effective, successful and safe way to treat kids without the use of drugs? Why not consider a drug-free alternative?
The process for the diagnosis of learning, behavior, and mood disorders is suspect
Then there is the worrisome fact that the diagnosis for ADD and ADHD is highly subjective. In the traditional approach, the child is
diagnosed as having a ‘disorder’ when the he or she “qualifies” by exhibiting six or more symptoms of inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity from a checklist of behaviors. The symptoms must have started before the age of seven, interfere with the child’s life at home and at school, and also have lasted at least six months. The identification of the child’s symptoms are based on interviewing the patient and the parents – in some cases, teachers will also provide input – all of which is subject to the eye of the beholder.
By the way, it is interesting – and rather scary to note that many of the pharmaceutical companies supply the doctors with the list of ADHD symptoms according to which they can make the diagnosis. Scarier than ever is the fact that this list has recently been reduced from ten behaviors to five.
Who is looking at, and treating, the Whole Child
Then there is another worrisome fact about diagnosis and treatment which is that the symptoms of these so-called learning disorders frequently overlap with each other. And even more importantly, these symptoms are also similar to those experienced by children who are affected by a number of other conditions such as high levels of stress, food sensitivities, allergies, heavy metal toxicity, hearing or vision problems, an unstable home environment, gastrointestinal problems, and more. These other causes for symptoms can be quantifiably tested, but these tests are not routinely performed as part of the diagnostic process. Why not?
So by medicating the child for the symptoms they exhibit, practitioners are applying a band-aid approach. They are not getting to the underlying root causes of the symptoms and by letting these real causes remain undetected and untreated practitioners are contributing to enormous ongoing problems for the kids.
Here’s the good news – we are able to heal children’s bodies and brains so that they can enjoy life, learn easily and behave positively without the use of prescribed medication. Achieving this begins with moms and dads looking at their children’s challenges through a different lens.