It seems like everyone has ADD or ADHD nowadays.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 8.4 percent of children aged three to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, which amounts to about 5.2 million children, a lot more than the estimated 1.4 million to 2.3 million listed as living with ADD or ADHD in 1999.
These conditions are challenges for those who have them, and awareness of the disorders is well-deserved. There is no doubt of that. But the number of people who have been diagnosed is concerning. There is no biological reason for the rise in diagnoses.
Some claim there has been a rise in diagnoses due to increased awareness of the disorder, while others claim that parents are getting their young kids diagnosed and on medications such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall when they don’t need it, which will do nothing positive for a growing generation.
There is also the argument that students are seeking out the medications due to the intense state of focus they induce, which can be useful in the high stress life of college or even high school. On many campuses, these drugs are not hard to come by.
In February, the New York Times ran a stoy about Richard Fee, a successful college student who hung himself in 2011 due to his growing addiction to Adderall.
Prior to his addiction, Fee was a promising student at Greensboro College in North Carolina. He planned to become a doctor, and this aspiration caused his downfall, coupled with lax doctors and prescription procedures.
Although he had never seriously exhibited symptoms of ADD or ADHD, his doctors failed to notice that he was taking multiple times the suggested monthly dose.
His death came after an attempt by Fee at a sudden withdrawl, which he was unable to cope without.
So, is society just nurturing a condition that had not previously received the attention it deserved, or are we creating a generation in which many children are becoming dependant on medication that they physically need?
The issue of giving medication only to people who really need it is incredibly difficult to resolve. The system is purely subjective and open to abuse.
Part of the problem may be that many children are diagnosed at a very young age, before they are able to independently handle their own learning. In fact, the brain is still developing until age seven.
Some of the symptoms that the CDC lists for ADHD state that sufferers do “Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities, offten has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities, Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.” Such ia applicable to most preteen children.
American society needs to remember this when assessing their young child’s propensity to achieve.
Parents may see ADD as all-encompassing, go-to answer for why their child isn’t doing well in school.
If a kid is six years old, it’s too early to tell if a child has ADD or ADHD. Shouldn’t we wait until a kid is doing rigorous, sophisticated work to determine whether or not they have a learning disability?
As a whole, the presence of ADHD medication in our society needs to be taken way more seriously than it currently is.
Just because drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin are sold at pharmacies does not mean that they are safe. They are still controlled substances.
Medication should be given sparingly and with the utmost caution.
For the sake of the children, the epidemic of legal, addictive drugs needs to be stopped. And parents, if your kid is having a little trouble focusing, be a little hesitant before putting him on the meds.