WSJ Article Link: A Nation of Kids on Speed

Sunday

Article: A Nation of Kids on Speed: Six million children in the U.S. have already been diagnosed with ADHD. Plenty more will follow.

by: DR PIETER COHEN AND NICOLAS RASMUSSEN

Published in: The Wall Street Journal

on: 6/16/13

"Walk into any American high school and nearly one in five boys in the hallways will have a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of all American children ages 4 to 17—over six million—have ADHD, a 16% increase since 2007. When you consider that in Britain roughly 3% of children have been similarly diagnosed, the figure is even more startling. Now comes worse news: In the U.S., being told that you have ADHD—and thus receiving some variety of amphetamine to treat it—has become more likely."

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"In 1968, the National Academy of Sciences organized an authoritative investigation into the stimulants' true benefits and risks. The consensus: These drugs had limited efficacy and real harms."


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"We still do not have a single randomized trial to help determine if starting stimulants as an adolescent or adult further increases the risk of future substance abuse, although the long and checkered history of medical stimulants would suggest it does. Certainly, the risks from recreationally using stimulants are already well-documented.

In 2010, Adderall was second only in popularity to the painkiller Vicodin as a prescription drug of abuse among high-school seniors, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Adolescents often perceive prescription drugs as safer than illicit ones, but abusing prescription amphetamines can lead to seizures, psychosis and life-threatening heart disease.

Stimulants can certainly benefit some young children with truly disabling ADHD. However, history has already taught us that overprescribing stimulants to millions of Americans leads to dependence, addiction and overdose. By medicating children for wiggling in their chairs, losing their homework and shouting out answers, we are not teaching them vital coping skills to manage their behavior. Instead, we are teaching them to take a pill. One day, we'll look back and wonder: Why did we do this? Again."

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