Categorized | Columns, Opinions

Challenging Convention: The Mistreatment of ADHD

Posted on 04 September 2013 by admin

Prescribing stimulants to children is the latest troubling trend


Billy Gardner

Staff Writer

The human race has an embarrassing history of zestful naivety in the treatment of perceived disorders and illnesses. From witch burning to lobotomies to the use of vibrators on hysteria patients, there are times when the standard practices in medicine are ludicrous, if not dangerous.

Prescribing stimulants to children as young as four is the latest troubling blunder physicians are making. As of 2013, 11 percent of children between the ages of four and 17 are currently diagnosed with ADHD, up 53 percent in the past decade. Of those diagnosed, roughly two-thirds are prescribed a stimulant psychotropic. That means that about 8 percent, or two out of 25, kids are ingesting powerful narcotics on a daily basis.

This persistent rise is a cause for concern to say the least. Let us examine one of the most common drugs prescribed, Adderall. Similar to dextromethamphetamine, meth, in both chemical structure and effect, dextroamphetamine causes the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, and inhibits the re-uptake of these neurotransmitters. Essentially, the drug sends a message to the nervous system to release these chemicals into the synapse, and blocks the mechanism that removes them. This results in the desired alertness and increased concentration. But while the child’s grades and concentration increase, so do their anxiety, digestive problems and blood pressure. This powerful drug alters the user’s consciousness, changing their experience of life. A child who is just learning about the world has no business ingesting mind-altering substances.

ADHD should not be thought of as a disorder, so much as a behavioral difference. A child that demonstrates curiosity, energy, excessive talking, is easily distracted, unorganized, fails to complete homework or tend to lose things (some of the criteria for ADHD diagnosis) is not mentally ill. Telling a young child that they have a disorder, a mental illness, has the potential to make them feel less than they are and could easily lead to low self-esteem. He or she is a child like any other, and children need to be taught. Some children have more of these traits and will require more attention and have to work harder to adapt to the semi-unnatural and foreign environment that is an elementary classroom. The answer is not to give them drugs. The simple answer to this problem is to quit prescribing stimulants to minors.

The underlying problem of inattentiveness still needs to be addressed. While every child is different, teachers and parents should work to connect with the individual and convey the information and lessons that they may not grasp at first. Short attention spans are not a chronic disorder and they can be remedied with effort over time. Everybody faces challenges in life. In childhood, people learn about their weaknesses and strengths and how to compensate for and utilize these traits. Stripping anyone of this opportunity is unfair. It is stupid and irresponsible to give a child speed and call it medicine.

*Information obtained from The Center for Disease Control


  • Mike

    Amen. Well said.

  • Efrain

    the last sentence sums it up pretty well. good job bill

  • Veneta

    Great job Billy! :)

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