Too often, ADHD drugs are prescribed to kids whose parents just want some peace and quiet, putting the kids at risk of addiction.
Having a kid with ADHD is no picnic. I know this because my son has been living with the condition ever since he could talk. However, he takes no medication whatsoever to deal with it. It has required an Individual Education Plan and a lot of redirecting, but the kid carries a B+ average and sometimes does even better, depending on the marking period. You practically have to put his fingers in a vise to get him to study, but he does well when he gets down to it.
As a pharmacist, I have seen what ADHD medication can do to patients who get hooked on it, and there is no way I would ever send my kid down that road. An amphetamine-addicted life, with the inevitable psych med regimen to combat drug tolerance depression, is not going to be in the cards for my kid. I understand that there are kids who absolutely need a medication regimen. However, as I said a few columns ago, some parents who opt for medication just want their kids to be quiet so their evenings can be less stressful. I say shame on them, and shame on the pediatricians who go along with their wishes. As far as I am concerned, a medication regimen for ADHD should only be initiated by a developmental pediatrician (DP). A regular pediatrician can then be available to write the scripts, but the plan should always originate with a DP.
I have also noticed that there are more and more adults with ADD. One time, an adult patient came in to the pharmacy to pick up amphetamine salt prescriptions, wired for sound and riding quite the high. I was reminded once again that there is no need to buy drugs on the street when your doctor is willing to write the scripts and your insurance covers the meds.
The way we are treating ADHD is creating a generation of pediatric and adolescent medically directed drug addicts who will more than likely develop into adult medically directed drug addicts. Some may ask what business I have labeling patients as addicts. However, if you have been reading my material for a while, you know that I, too, am a recovering drug addict. All I have to do to experience a stimulant-driven high is drink a lot of coffee and not take my bipolar meds. I know why others like feeling that way, and I call shenanigans on all of this.
Is this really the future that some parents want for their kids? Of course not, but too many are not thinking about the possible, and, unfortunately, the all-too-likely scenarios that can unfold. I’ve seen two types of ADD parents who medicate their children: those who cry that they finally have no other choice, and those who seem grateful that their kids will be less rambunctious.
Treating an ADD kid without drugs is absolutely possible, but it requires a fair amount of sacrifice, research, and patience on the part of the parents. As time-consuming as any child can be, an ADD child takes even more time. But it is time well spent. To quote some of my 12-step amigos, “It works, when you work it. It’s worth it!” Peace.
Jay Sochoka, RPh, is the author of Fatman in Recovery: Tales from the Brink of Obesity.