Amphetamines Versus Child Rearing

An article, Pill Pressure, in the London based Financial Times, while typical of much mainstream media coverage, this story on the spat of ADHD diagnoses exposes the over prescription of psychiatric drugs as being part of that problem depending, of course, on which expert in the field is consulted.

When Steven Rose, a neuroscientist, began observing the US debate on attention deficit hyperactive disorder in the 1980s, just a few thousand stimulants were being dispensed in the UK each year. Today, doctors in England alone write more than 700,000 prescriptions annually.

The article then tries to bring in the fanciful but bogus history of ADHD that has been fabricated for the benefit of true believers. The irritating behaviors of children has been a subject of concern for certain mental health professionals for some time, yes, of course. Children are not adults, and when we drug them because they don’t behave like adults, we could be making a terrible mistake.

Professor Rose in his criticisms is outnumbered in this article by a number of psychiatrists expressing the opposite view. This is the Financial Times, after all, and they have to think about the investors in the zillion dollar pharmaceutical industry who subscribe to their periodical.

Despite these financial interests there are clues that these drugs are often not the magic bullets that they are so often cracked up to be.

One area in which critics and supporters of drug-based treatment can agree is the lack of data to understand the long-term effects of medication. Most clinical trials have taken place over weeks, with the longest lasting 14 months. Mike Yasick says Shire began a registry in 2008, that it will run over a minimum of four years to track the health of those taking its drugs.

Another point of discussion is that while the drugs do not appear to create addiction, they do not deal with the underlying causes, and symptoms resume if patients stop taking their medicines.

I have another suggestion to make, perhaps parents are a better way to deal with childhood issues than is any pill. Sure, an adult variant of ADHD has made it’s presence felt, but it wouldn’t have done so without the juvenile version becoming so much of a mainstay. Adult ADHD is the joke that exposes ADHD for what it is, a way for drug companies and mental health professionals to make a living off harried and gullible family members. Contemporary parents can be a pretty busy bunch, yes, and sometimes they can’t make time for junior. Well, maybe they had just better make time.