ADHD epidemic rages out of control – News Update

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

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Almost all U. S. children infected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

In my morning news was the startling report that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is spreading among America’s children (AHRQ, September 2012.) It now appears likely that all U. S. Children will not be able to pay attention sufficiently to grow into mature adults.

In a short ten-year period (2000 to 2010) the number of ADHD-related visits to doctors’ offices increased by a whopping 68%. During the much longer decade of the 1960s, most doctor’s office visits centered on getting children off drugs.

If I read those news statistics right, in just four of those recent years (2003-2007) 5.4 million children caught a case of ADHD.

So far this epidemic has been confined to the United States. The United Kingdom and northern Europe have not yet seen a flood of ADHD cases, but given the prevalence of internet viruses, the impact of this epidemic may soon be felt worldwide.

This problem has become so severe that two and three-year-old’s are now being brought in for diagnosis and medication to improve their attention. The fear has become that some children may forget how to grow older if they do not get medications.

The magnitude of this crisis has required that an army of child psychiatrists be redeployed from less serious issues like schizophrenia and suicidal depression to facing the onslaught of pediatric ADHD.

The news release on this topic reports that the huge increase in public education of ADHD may have led parents, children, and providers to identify conditions that previously would have been dismissed as behavioral and conduct disorders to now be attributed to ADHD.

Over this time period while we have been spending an increasing share of our resources on fighting a war on stimulant abuse in adults, from 87% to 98% of children identified with ADHD have been prescribed amphetamine-like stimulant ADHD medication. If amphetamines have been so effective in improving attention and behavior in children it is hard to understand why the widespread use of Methamphetamines has not eliminated the occurrence of adult crime.

In fairness to the manufacturers of stimulant ADHD medications, the evidence does not indicate that childhood use of stimulant ADHD medications increases adult drug abuse.

This huge rise in the number of American Children leads me to several possible Hypotheses.

1. All children have ADHD and should receive a prescription for medication at the time of birth.


2. Children are inherently young and immature and no amount of effort on our part will get children to act like responsible adults until they have in fact grown old enough to legally be adults.

In support of hypothesis two I note that in countries where children start school at older ages, they have significantly less ADHD. Also, children, who receive more exercise and are allowed to waste time at recess on physical activity, are better able to sit quietly in class. Classrooms that eliminate recess to increases classroom time and test scores are those that have higher rates of ADHD.

All that said, with tongue protruding from my cheek, I do believe there legitimately are cases of ADHD, and those with ADHD are vastly helped by medication. My concern continues to be that we are trying to medicate our way out of family, societal, and economic problems, lack of quality education, and efforts to raise test schools by excessive expectations of very young children rather than more educational opportunity as the school experience progresses.

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2 thoughts on “ADHD epidemic rages out of control – News Update

  1. This post really caught my attention due to my personal interest in the subject of ADHD and it’s diagnosis, reading that it is being diagnosed in children as young as 2-3 years old is a horrifying notion to me. After all aren’t these children ‘just’ displaying inattention and hyperactivity due to their young age?!?! (assuming these diagnosis are leading to medications with stimulants such as Ritalin) Placing a child as young as that on a somewhat addictive substance seems a somewhat overzealous for of controlling their behavior. Would it not be more appropriate for the child parents to alter their dietary intake of chemicals found in foods that effect concentration and hyperactivity for example limiting e-numbers and other such things like MSG. Would it be a fair assumption to make that this rise in diagnosis is due to the child’s diet, rather than a chemical imbalance relating to the neurotransmitters in the brain?
    Scary stuff really.


    • Absolutely diet is something parents should think abut. So is exercise. Little kids are immature because they are so young. In some countries they do not start kids in school till they are 6 because the think younger kids are not yet ready to sit still for long periods of time. Here in america we are pushing children way to hard and the result is requests for meds to make kids able to sit still for things that do not interest them. There is no medication that makes a boring teacher more interesting. Thanks for the comment and best wishes on your blog.


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