Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Teaching the kids to pop those pills

In this fast food culture, pill popping seems to be the method of choice for dealing with problems. It's inevitable to see this:
    A 49 percent rise in the use of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drugs by children under 5 in the last three years contributed to a 23 percent increase in usage for all children, according to an annual analysis of drug use trends by Medco Health Solutions Inc.

    "Behavioral medicines have eclipsed the other categories this year," said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer. "It certainly reflects the concern of parents that their children do as well as they can."
    The most startling change was a 369 percent increase in spending on attention deficit drugs for children under five. That's in part because of the popularity of newer, long-acting medicines under patent, compared with twice-a-day Ritalin (news - web sites) and generic versions available for years.

    But the use of other behavioral drugs also jumped in the last three years. Antidepressant use rose 21 percent and drugs for autism and other conduct disorders jumped 71 percent, compared to a 4.3 percent rise in antibiotics.
They quote an expert who says this:
    McGough said kids on attention deficit drugs tend to avoid substance abuse and other problems and do better in school.
However, I will say he's only speculating because I doubt longitudinal studies have been completed on kids this young. I say that because some of these new medications just came out.

I'm leary of relying on pills to help kids to adjust. Many of the disturbed kids I see in the class would do better if they had a better home environment. I think we'd see more progress with quality attention and emotionally available parents.

On the other hand, I know it's hard when both parents work, and time and money is tight. If anything, these are problems that come with difficulty making a good living, a larger problem related to the poor economy.