There are close to 4 million children in the United States who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), an estimated 7.5% of school-age children. Tens of millions of prescriptions are written for these children every year for potent psychopharmaceuticals like Concerta, Strattera, Adderall, Ritalin and the other amphetamines.
Drugs always come with a price; they are aimed at a specific constellation of symptoms, but invariably they exacerbate others. A child diagnosed with the ADHD may get better focused but get more depressed, aggressive, sleepless, and even suicidal. Often the drugs don’t even work. In a recently completed national study, the New York University Child Study Center reported that 28% of parents with kids between the ages of five and 18 who gave their ADHD kids psychoactive medications on a daily basis, said it didn’t work. But parents are giving it anyway. Why? Because mental health professionals, teachers, and administrators encourage it as the most expedient solution, suggesting it’s just a matter of finding the right dose or combination.
Don’t buy it. If the medication doesn’t work, stop taking it; we are chemically straitjacketing too many kids. Try other options, such as:
1. Talk to someone who can help you look at yourself and your symptomatic child from a new perspective. A therapist who doesn’t believe the drugs are the only tools to change behavior.
2. Set limits. It is an ego-corrective experience. Saying “no” or “you can’t have it” is critically important for our survival as a species and a planet. It is crucial to be available to your kids, but just as important is setting and enforcing consistent limits.
3. Restore the evening meal to the status of family ceremony. Get together around the dinner table with special food, stories, traumas, jokes, and stuff that’s important/happening to you.
4. Watch less TV. Go somewhere as a family where cell phones don’t get reception, and batteries run out. A place where you can suspend yourself from the ordinary and learn to appreciate the healing power of magical connections.
If we did these things, I believe we could eliminate the need for 90% of the psychoactive medications now being prescribed for children.