Drugs as Last Resort
Unfortunately, our nation is quickly developing a cultural heritage as a nation of “druggies” - far beyond that depicted in any Hollywood movie. These are not illegal drugs smuggled across the border, but rather completely legal, doctor prescribed medications. Few know that it is these completely legal drugs that are listed as the #3 cause of death in the U.S.
In 2004, the cost for children’s AD/HD and other behavioral disorder drugs, for the first time, edged past those of antibiotics and asthma medications for kids. Most alarmingly, there was a 369% increase in spending in 2004 for children under 5. We can only guess what it might be today.
We wish to stress that this organization is not now, nor should it become “anti-drug”. Many drugs are of tremendous value and save countless lives every year. They have and continue to greatly enhance the quality of life for many. We do not, however, embrace the concept that drugs should be our first line of defense or our “first step therapy”. In fact, we believe that, barring very unusual circumstances, drug interventions for the disorders in question should be reserved as a treatment of last resort.
There are many reasons why drugs are not the action to start with. To begin with, proper diagnosis, a difficult and complex task in itself, is critical in order to determine proper treatment. Proper diagnosis is made even more difficult when people are on medications, because many of the true symptoms become masked. True symptoms often become replaced by other drug-induced side-effects.
Additionally, we need to keep in mind that today’s epidemic of AD/HD diagnoses is truly an explosion. What could possibly be the cause of this? How many of these diagnoses could be in error? Today, we cannot be sure.
Nevertheless, we can be sure that young minds and bodies are highly susceptible, rapidly changing creations that we need to exercise extreme caution with. Some intervention strategies are safe, and others, once implemented, may cause irreversible, long-term damage. In the case of many AD/HD medications, the medications often lose their effectiveness within a couple years. This is why some clinicians offer a “drug holiday”, usually during the summer.
Recently, AD/HD drugs, especially Ritalin, appear to have become more closely associated with child fatalities. In March of 2006, an FDA advisory panel recommended that several of the most popular AD/HD medications should be “black labeled”. This label is used to indicate the most serious warning possible to both physicians and consumers. Regardless of current FDA position, caution should be advised.
Whenever possible, start simple, safe, and early. Note our recommendations on this website at Strategy For Success and Action Steps.