Giving children drugs isn’t the only answer

We shouldn't be prescribing harmful mind-altering drugs to children without any objective evidence to support the practice

By Barbara Bond

Several studies are coming to the forefront on the misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis of children regarded as having attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) followed by the potential catastrophic effects of prescribing psycho-stimulant medications.

It’s apparent there’s a glossing over of health reports and a lack of information given to parents and caregivers about the potential devastating harms and side effects stimulants/anti-psychotic drugs have on developing brains and bodies.

Based on very broad subjective criteria of observed behaviours, psychiatrists, psychologists and teachers are identifying young children who don’t seem to “fit” in having ADHD.

For too many years now children are being diagnosed and then told they have a “chemical imbalance.” They are then prescribed harmful mind-altering drugs without any objective evidence to support the practice.

“Children either incapable or unwilling to comply based on nothing more than their unique character and disinterest in a sedentary environment are deemed ill, disordered, diseased or otherwise,” quotes one study.

I invite you to think about the above when it comes to the consequences surrounding a consensus belief based on a professional guess.

By being selective in what is considered science we are ignoring (or avoiding) the discovery of very important variables such as undetected health conditions, the role of environment and interaction, sensitivities in diets, or a learning style not recognized in the standard public school curriculum, or lack of evolutionary perspective in normal brain functions.

The discovery of these variables would render these so-called scientific findings of very little value.

Furthermore, the systematic failures of our public school system in its adherence to a 19th century industrial cookie cutter design allows for the labeling and subsequent drugging of children because of the tremendous power schools have over them.

Scientists still struggle to isolate how the functions of the brain operate together.

In other words, they do not really know that when “deficits” and “chemical imbalances” are cited that these could merely be behaviours that have not quite matured yet. No one child goes through puberty the exact same way at the exact same time, however, children are expected to behave the exact same way at the exact same time.

As children come of  age, the “say no to drugs” philosophy trumpeted to youth today is really counterproductive. How can we instill valuable knowledge on drug abuse when we are giving children the idea that drugs can also make everything better? It is troubling to see how a stimulant drug can be viewed as harmful when it’s illegal, but taken as a “stabilizing” effect when taken as part of a “treatment program.”

Stimulants are potentially highly addictive drugs with cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, endocrine, and psychiatric side effects, and since 1971 the American Food and Drug Administration has tagged stimulants with a Schedule II designation which is reserved for the most dangerous of drugs (along with cocaine, opiates and morphine).

We as a society should be questioning the current practices concerning diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. With all the research out there no one in support or in opposition that can tell us exactly what is going on.

I feel there is a school of thought in the guise of legitimate science, causing stigmatization  by attaching labels to children,  made up of special financial interests with a resulting glossing over of the potential devastating side effects of a Schedule II drug on young bodies and brains.

As well, the antipsychotic Risperidone, which is being administered to children as young as four for the treatment of ADHD has not, according to Health Canada, ever been tested to be safe for children. All of this is being done without question, and without encouraged alternative methods, and without the needed public school restructure.

This should be raising profound awareness of our ethical intellectual, spiritual, and philosophical values regarding the future of our children.

Barbara Bond is a mother of two living in Terrace, BC. She’s a university student and an advocate for a drug free education for children.