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Kiddie Cocaine

I was watching this special on psychotropic drugs yesterday, and I was remembering my stint working in a juvenile detention center. These kids were screwed up. And we passed out their drugs (Paxil, Zoloft, Ritalin, Wellbutrin...) like candy. It made them feel weird, and I wonder how much it even helped, especially since researchers have no idea about the long term effects of these drugs on children.

Some of the serious side effects include mania and psychosis. The documentary I was watching contended that these drugs have played a role in the rise in school violence in recent years. A compelling idea, and one I found convincing enough to purpose that my children will never take any of these drugs, drugs that one teacher labeled, "kiddie cocaine".

Ritalin is a controlled substance. It's speed. Yet it's legitimized if given as a prescription. The definitions of ADD & ADHD in the DSM-IV (the diagnostic manual that mental health professionals use to determine illness) are vague ,and often it's a teacher who recommends the drugs, not a psychiatrist, based on behaviors such as:

fidgeting
difficulty sitting in class
trouble concentrating on school work
impulsive behavior

I guess I'm wondering--what child DOES NOT act this way? I'm almost certain that if my firstborn were in the public school, he would be "diagnosed" with a hyperactivity disorder.

Seems to me the drug companies are just packaging another "convenience food" for our consumption because parents don't want to parent.

4 comments:

If I had children I would do everything within reason to keep my kids off these drugs.

Even as an adult I suffer from some of those behaviors. They are just a part of life! People in general cannot perfectly sit still, concentrate, or contain their impulsive behaviors without a life in Christ and the Holy Spirit to help them do so.

May 29, 2007 at 7:30 PM  

There is a test for this, and it is pretty simple - if a person has ADD (which my husband does) - they will react opposite to various substances. For instance, if they have caffeine it will make them calm down and even sleepy. This is why Ritalin makes them calm down.

To get away from the overdiagnosing, I think some simple tests with the drugs could be helpful.

It seems like a pretty common thing nowadays. All I know is that before my husband discovered his ADD, he was a C- student in college. When he discovered the ADD, started medication, and returned to school, he was on the Dean's List. It made him able to absorb what he couldn't beforehand.

Would he have been better off if he took the meds as a child? I don't know. I do think it may have prevented a lot of the failures that made a serious dent in his self esteem though.

May 29, 2007 at 8:55 PM  

I have mixed emotions on this one. I was one to be quick to say no to these drugs. Parenting issue...more physical activity, etc. 99.9% of the time this is still how I feel. What has shifted my opinion slightly is knowing several older teenagers/young adults who began taking these meds at 17-18-19 yo and the profound difference it made for them and their ability to study, retain material, etc. But they're older. I have also had 1 or 2 students that were really impossible to control/teach that after the doctor prescribed meds, the change was remarkable. (Not recommended by me, but parents trying to find something to do with them.) I still think these cases are rare, and children are as a whole over-medicated.

May 29, 2007 at 9:20 PM  

Great comments! I think this is an important issue and one that needs to be discussed, esp. among Christians.

While there are guidelines for what ADD and ADHD looks like, there isn't much medical, physical evidence. For example, when you have cancer you can see it. When you have AIDS, you get tested for it and it's in your blood. When you have ADD or ADHD, it's just outward, behavioral symptoms. There's no medical component. While researchers have done brain scans and noticed differences in the brains of those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, these children had been on medication for a number of years so there's no way of knowing if the medication or the condition caused the abnormality.

I think my problem with it all is the idea of a quick fix. It's like taking a diet pill to lose weight when you're just too lazy to exercise and eat right.

But every person is different and every situation is different, I just thought this was a compelling subject.

May 29, 2007 at 10:23 PM  

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