Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the term coined to identify a set of behaviors in children (and some adults) in which they can’t focus on one activity or control physical, mental, and emotional overload.
The term evolved from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) to more accurately include hyperactivity associated with the diagnosis.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control estimate that 11% of school-aged children (primarily boys) have been diagnosed with ADHD in the United States. The number of children labeled with ADHD has risen drastically in the last 10 years, the rate increasing 42% from 2003 to 2011 (1).
Worldwide, the percentage of children under the age of 18 with ADHD was estimated at 7.2% in 2015 (2).
ADHD In North America
The behaviors associated with ADHD in children affect their abilities to perform in school, build healthy interpersonal relationships, and learn new tasks and information. In the United States, over 6% of children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed medication to counteract its effects (3).
The most common drugs prescribed to control ADHD behavior are Adderall and Ritalin. Adderall is an amphetamine—a stimulant chemical similar to the street drug “Ecstasy”. Its chemical structure is similar to adrenalin and the pleasure hormone dopamine. It works by stimulating the parts of the brain that produce euphoria and focus. Ritalin blocks certain neurotransmitters and increases production of dopamine and serotonin (another pleasure hormone) in the brain. Both of these drugs affect the central nervous system.
Children as young as 3 years old are prescribed these brain-altering substances.
The Problem With Drug-Based Therapy
As with any other drug, with the high comes the crash.
Children who regularly take Adderall or Ritalin experience artificially induced happiness. When the source of the hormone stimulation is removed, they undergo a very real physical and psychological withdrawal. Additionally, these drugs are very similar to the popular anti-depressants Zoloft and Prozac.
The longer the drug is administered, the more difficult and severe the withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal effects include:
- Anger and irritability
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Brain fog
- Difficulty concentrating and lack of motivation
- Food cravings
- Heart palpitations
- Mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Suicidal ideation
- Difficulty with vision
History has shown that these psychoactive drugs do not always have the desired effect: many heinous violent acts have been perpetrated by people who are either actively taking or recently coming off this type of drug. As just one example, the shooters at Columbine High School in Colorado—responsible for killing 13 and wounding 23 before committing suicide—were both so medicated.
The National Alliance Against Mandated Mental Health Screening and Psychiatric Drugging of Children states: “…few Americans have noticed how many shooters were among the 6 million kids now on psychotropic drugs… Although the list of school-age children who have gone on violent rampages is growing at a disturbing rate—and the shootings at Columbine became a national wake-up call—few in the mental-health community have been willing to talk about the possibility that the heavily prescribed drugs and violence may be linked. Those who try to investigate quickly learn that virtually all data concerning violence and psychotropic drugs are protected by the confidentiality provided minors. ” (4)