Pills, thrills and tantrums – an adult epidemic?

As a parent, I’m very aware of my kids’ behaviour so it was with some alarm that I read an article in the Guardian about the use of behaviour medication on kids as young as 4.

Whilst not trying to dismiss ADHD as a disease that affects some children, I think that it has partially become an easy excuse and ‘get-out’ clause for parents and doctors alike. Parents because they cannot cope with the children and doctors because it is an easy prescription and they are sometime coerced by the parents to do so.

I cannot believe parents would willingly ‘dope’ their kids with such a drug unless it was actually diagnosed as such, and yet some do. Parenting can be tough – I have 3 kids myself so I know all about lack of sleep, short temper etc.  But guess what?  It was my choice to have kids.  I didn’t go into it thinking my life would be the same, so why should I buckle at the first sign of trouble? Why should I castigate my kids for my failure to cope?

Also, doctors need to take care in their diagnosis and (where it occurs) be stronger about undue pressure from parents.  Should something go wrong, it will be they who are in trouble not the parents through mis-diagnosing.

But more alarming are the statistics.  These are all US based but that trend is moving over the pond pretty darn quickly.

ADHD in 2003

ADHD in 2008

The key thing to take away from the above pictures is not the geography but the percentages.  In the space of 5 years, most areas have tripled.  Other stats include:

  • 5.5m of 4-17 year olds has been diagnosed with ADHD in 2009
  • Number 1 mental health concern in young people
  • 60% of those diagnosed are given medication for it
  • The percentage of children with a parent-reported ADHD diagnosis increased by 22% between 2003 and 2007

Sir Ken Robinson has also spoken about this and its effect on education.

And Louis Theroux did a programme on American kids living with medications, which you can view here.  It’s pretty shocking stuff at times to see not just the kids’ dependancy on the drugs but also the parents’.

The main problem is that as with all medication and drugs, the body gets used to it and then immune to its effect so then you end up having to give more.  By doing this you are building tolerance to the strength of the drug, increasing dependency on the drug and heightening the impact of the withdrawal.

No kid should have to suffer this unnecessary.

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