I have long feared that over diagnosing ADHD and ADD were causing a drugged generation--a world of kids that are unnecessarily taking prescription drugs that may impact them both mentally and physically down the line. While we’re unsure the long term ramifications of drugs like Ritalin, new research shows that there’s been a surge of ADHD diagnoses in the past decade. While ADHD is certainly a real disorder, worldwide diagnoses have shut up by double across the board.
Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently noted that treatments for ADHD have risen dramatically in recent years. Kids, researchers noted, may be taking drugs without needing them.
ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity, bouts of inattention, and impulsive behavior, but prescription drugs are only needed for severe symptoms, which doctors note do exist in some patients. When symptoms are severe, it can cause failure at school and social behavioral problems.
The larger fear is that kids aren’t dealing with their own personality and maturation process properly along with the impact of poor parenting and other problems at home. Rather, they’re using prescription drugs unnecessary to deal with their issues.
Surge in ADHD
In the U.S., 11 percent of children ages 13-18 are impacted by ADHD and we’ve seen a 41 percent increase in diagnoses. Some states diagnosed as many as 23 percent of boys and sales of the stimulant Ritalin have increased from $4 billion to $9 billion. In Australia, prescriptions for Ritalin and other ADHD drugs are up by 72 percent from 2003-2008 and in Britain and the Netherlands prescriptions have doubled.
Over diagnosing ADHD can lead to a host of problems that we’ve yet to unlock because the long term research just isn’t there but we do know that prescriptions can cause changes in weight, liver damage, and depression. Not to mention the danger of having so many prescription drugs floating around college campuses to be sold and used for study aids and party drugs.
While there’s undoubtedly a place for these drugs in certain severe cases, for the less severe and even nonexistent cases, we're teaching our children to take a drug to mask a problem rather than learning to deal with development as it comes.
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