By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
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 1960’s, most doctors 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 psychiatrist 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% 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 which 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.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.