Super Guest Post on ADHD Issues by Melissa Hathaway

The Medication Question

  • Although not all children diagnosed with ADHD receive medication, it’s a major piece of the puzzle. In an interview with the New York Times last October, pediatrician Dr. Michael Anderson described the only way he knew how to help the low-income children being failed by inadequate schools: prescribing Adderall. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment,” he said. “So we have to modify the kid.”
  • Teachers, parents, and pediatricians are all caught in the same bind, but the one who suffers is the child. ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin are a $7 billion industry, and the thing is: they work, whether prescribed correctly or not. Children taking the medication can concentrate more effectively and have increased impulse control, among other beneficial effects. While this enhancement may indeed make them “better at school”, the idea that children have to be drugged to succeed is a troubling one indeed. Unpleasant side effects are also associated with the stimulants: growth suppression, high blood pressure, and even rare psychological problems such as psychotic episodes. One of the more disturbing side effects is addiction. Teenagers and young adults are using the medication both recreationally and to improve their performance, as it is easily obtained at high school and college campuses. Despite its legal status, ADHD medication can cause addiction that requires treatment, just like help with addiction to anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax or other stimulants like cocaine.
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