Over the last ten years, the number of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the United States has grown at an outrageous rate. Is this a result of more children legitimately suffering from the disease or an over-diagnoses from the medical industry?
As reported in the New York Times, the Center for Disease Control published that currently 11% of children between ages 4 and 17 are diagnosed with ADHD, which is up 16% since 2007, and up 41% from 2003 numbers.
To break that down further, let’s say there are 40 million young people between that age bracket, which is probably a low estimate, but for illustrative purposes, that means that 11% is close to 4.5 million kids who are diagnosed with ADHD.
Diagnosed With ADHD
And what does our country do for those who are diagnosed with ADHD, even when he or she is only presenting a few of the symptoms? We give them Adderall or Ritalin, a stimulant substance that is illegal without a doctor’s written prescription, and is considered a performance-enhancing drug that is illegal for professional athletes to take.
Apparently about two-thirds of those who are diagnosed with ADHD are taking Adderall or Ritalin on a regular basis, so based on our numbers, there are about 3 million kids being medicated everyday in the United States alone, and again, the actual number is probably even higher. It’s interesting to think that 3 million kids are taking a drug that is currently banned from the National Football League.
What happens to these medicated children, adolescents, and teens as they grow up and become adults? When any substance, whether legal or illegal, is altering the user’s brain chemistry for years upon years, there are repercussions. Some of the kids that the kids taking Adderall or Ritalin don’t stop taking it, so we now have millions of adults taking a stimulant every day to function in the world.
Adderall is in the same drug class as cocaine and amphetamines, including methamphetamine, and is equally dangerous when used in any way other than prescribed by a physician, and even then the drug’s effects on the brain and body are detrimental.
Adderall A Powerful Prescription
Adderall releases adrenaline, the neurotransmitter that, when naturally released, gives you energy because it signals the speeding up of your heart rate and increases the flow of blood to your muscles. Is it good that a substance is giving our country’s children the same feeling that organically occurs after exercise?
Adderall can also create a sense of euphoria, which makes it appealing as a recreational drug, but then the user can feel tired, depressed, and irritable. The crash after using Adderall is a common side effect of most stimulants.
Are the negative implications of ADHD worth medicating 11% of our nation’s young people, or could stimulating activities in and out of school better counteract what kids with ADHD are experiencing? Perhaps there are hollistic behavioral treatments that could better serve our nation’s young people.
Written by the Clinical Director at The Control Center Dr. Priya Chaudhri, Ph.D. a specialist in treating behavioral addictions and mental health treatment for issues like ADHD.