An article this week from the NYTimes [] reviews a book by Alan Schwarz on the use of pharmaceuticals on children diagnosed with ADHD.

The author first states his unwavering belief in the validity of the diagnoses in some cases.[I don’t agree; I don’t believe, as one clinician states in the book, that because it’s too expensive to change the child’s environment, we change the child constitutes an ethical basis for drugging children]. But Schwarz also writes that we don’t really know the damage done to developing brains.  The two young people I know who were on Ritalin as children have huge struggles now as young adults.  I believe that similar to alcohol or any drug, these drugs interfere with normal learning processes, making it very difficult for people to understand and learn from the world, to process mistakes, to move towards responsibility and adulthood.

Schwarz outlines the history of the use of amphetamines for children.  As you may guess if you’ve been following the ethical practices of our pharmaceutical industry, it began with a huge stockpile of a stimulant, benzedrine sulfate, the distribution of loads of free samples, and the presto creation of a market.

Children are not to blame for their struggles in a school setting.  The way children learned throughout our evolution and even history has always involved their freedom to observe the adults at work mixed with many hours of exploration and play.  Our society isn’t set up that way now but drugging our children for not adapting is punishing the most vulnerable.



One thought on “ADHD

  1. It’s all part of the “medicalization of psychiatry” – the assumption that therapeutic approaches don’t work and the pushing of meds as the logical alternative. How many children are labeled hyper by parents and teachers who are over-controlling? And surely a child who is truly hyper can be given more exercise or music and dance therapy to help curb restlessness.

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