Are ADHD Medications Being Overprescribed?
There are 5 million children who are currently taking ADHD drugs in the U.S. alone. The number of children being treated with prescription medication for ADHD has soared in recent years.Fewer children are being prescribed antibiotics nowadays compared to a decade ago, according to a new study from the Food and Drug Administration. But over the past 10 years, more kids and teens were given prescriptions for ADHD drugs.The rise in stimulant prescribing for youths must be taken in context. Between 1990 and 2005 there was a rapid rise in pediatric prescriptions for many psychiatric medications—not only stimulants.
Fewer children are being prescribed antibiotics nowadays compared to a decade ago, according to a new study from the Food and Drug Administration. But over the past 10 years, more kids and teens were given prescriptions for ADHD drugs.Prescriptions for ADHD drugs climbed 46 percent from 2002 to 2012, and rates for contraceptive prescriptions rose by 93 percent. Increases in prescriptions for asthma medications rose 14 percent.There are some cases that children have ADHD and nothing can really help them, not even medication.
The whole problem with treating ADHD with medication is that it does not address the causes of ADHD. As many say, there are no causes, it is hereditary and there is nothing you can do. In most cases, this is completely untrue.n October of 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggested that children as young as four should be screened for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a mental condition characterized by “difficulty staying focused and paying attention,” and “difficulty controlling behavior and hyperactivity,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The new AAP guidelines recommend that clinicians prescribe behavioral therapy as “the first line of treatment” and, that failing, prescribe methylphenidate, otherwise known as Ritalin.
Since there is no single test for ADHD, diagnosing ADHD is a complex process, which should involve family, a pediatrician and a licensed health professional, preferably someone who has experience in childhood mental disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. What complicates things further is a lack of regulation: the Federal Drug Administration is responsible for approving ADHD medication, but it does not oversee how medications (usually stimulants such as Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall) are prescribed to children. As rates of diagnosis steadily climb, so do the number of children taking these medications.
I must preface this by noting that I am not a physician and do not prescribe medication. Physicians who treat ADHD in adults have told me that the correct way to do a medication trial is to start with a low dose, and gradually push it up. People may then have the “a-ha” moment at the right dose, suddenly noticing that they can focus the way most people do. If the dosage is too high, however, they may feel very jittery and anxious. Yet, even in people without ADHD, stimulants can boost cognitive performance.
Of course, there are side effects associated with all medications. The ones that are common with stimulants are appetite suppression and trouble falling asleep. These can be unpleasant, but they cause no lasting harm to a patient’s health. And in the largest and longest investigation into stimulant medication for ADHD, 85% of respondents reported only mild or no side effects.The fact is the unfounded mistrust of ADHD medications is more dangerous than the drugs. Fear, stigma and misinformation still stand in the way of many children receiving effective, sometimes life-changing treatment. Those are the kids we need to worry about.