04 Jan 2015

Recent Study Questions Medication for ADHD

Category: HealthAdmin @ 12:30 pm

Long-term use of stimulants (such as Ritalin and Adderall) for children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) appears to lower both academic performance and emotional functioning, according to a September 2014 study published in the Journal of Health Economics.

image of distracted boy with book on head staring upward at a jumble of letters

"We find little evidence of improvement in either the medium or the long run. Our results are silent on the effects on optimal use of medication for ADHD, but suggest that expanding medication in a community setting had little positive benefit and may have had harmful effects given the average way these drugs are used in the community."

(Quotation taken from the abstract for the article, "Do stimulant medications improve educational and behavioral outcomes for children with ADHD?")

The researchers ran statistics for children in the province of Quebec, Canada, where rule changes in 1997 made it easier to get insurance coverage for drugs to treat ADHD. By 2007, stimulant use in children there had doubled. ADHD prescriptions in Quebec now make up forty-four percent of all such Canadian prescriptions, even though Quebec’s population is only about twenty percent of the country.

The rationale for ADHD medicines arose out of short-term tests that measured performance on repetitive tasks, according to psychologist L. Alan Sroufe, Ph.D. In a 2012 New York Times article, "Ritalin Gone Wrong," Dr. Sroufe raised many concerns, including:

  • The initially-beneficial effect of the stimulants disappear with long-term use. There is no long-term improvement in academic performance, behavior problems, or peer relationships.
  • Neurological studies of the brain may show differences between children with ADHD and their normal peers, but this says nothing about the cause. Possible factors include not only genetic differences, but also environmental factors, such as diet, trauma at birth, illness, physical or emotional abuse, or other sorts of experiences in early childhood.
  • Children living in poverty are more prone to behavior problems, suggesting environmental causes.

Putting children on drugs does nothing to address the problems that derail their development in the first place. Yet those conditions are receiving scant attention.

Before putting or continuing any child on ADHD drugs, I highly recommend doing your own research, including the aforementioned September 2014 study and Dr. Sroufe’s article.

(Thanks go to Natural News for alerting me to this September research.)


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