Drinking and ADHD Medications? UNRELATED.

OK, I wanted to include this crazy and absurd photo that is on the "inter-press" (http://www.livescience.com/16269-adhd-stimulant-medication-kids.html) at the top of an article about the increase in use of ADHD MEDICATIONS with teens. The article appears on the "Live Science" webpage at this photo:

This is a photo of "Drinking Teenagers" as this stock photo title actually says. Drinking teens? What's that got to do with the article? ZERO. Why use it? To scare people, get attention with misinformation and fear, and make a headline where no headline exists. Here is what the article - and research - is actually about:

A recent study shows that the use of prescription stimulants to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in kids has increased steadily over the last decade. Between 1996 and 2008, the percentage of U.S. children taking stimulant medications for ADHD rose from 2.4 to 3.5 percent — an increase of a half million kids.

Should we worry? Are we flooding our children with unnecessary medication? are we drugging our children..and leading to alcohol abuse? No. Let's not be mislead into thinking this article doesn't intend to scare you, one of it's major links is to another article about the over prescription of psychiatric drugs to children. They want to make sure you see the link, no matter how unrelated it is. You know, almost all children with diabetes are treated with DRUGS! So misleading!) Read on:

Researchers found the rise in the use of medication was due mainly to an increase in use of these meds among teens. "In the past, ADHD was primarily a concern of children in elementary school and middle school," said study researcher Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, of the NIMH. "This continuous increase among teens likely reflects a recent realization that ADHD often persists as children age. They do not always grow out of their symptoms."

So the increase in medication is the result of - doctors and parents starting to treat teens, not just children. Because... we now know that ADHD doesn't go away as kids grow older. Oh, and I might suggest that as children with ADHD take medications and succeed in school, stay in school and attend school we start to notice they continue to need treatment ... treatment that has been successful for them as children.

The article continues with Dr. Vitiello stating: "In addition, more children have been diagnosed with ADHD in recent years. The new findings cannot tell us whether ADHD medications are being over-prescribed in kids, as some experts have claimed. But the decision to treat ADHD with stimulants should be made on an individual basis, and each child should be monitored to see how he responds to the drugs."

So, what's with the article title about increases in medications and the photo of teens drinking? I really don't understand the media ...and their "science writers."

Now, if you are confused about ADHD medication being possibly overprescribed, read this:
"Previous work showed that between 1987 and 1997, the percentage of children receiving ADHD stimulant medications increased steeply, from 0.6 to 2.7 percent. To see how prescriptions of stimulants have changed since then, Vitiello and colleagues examined data from a nationally representative survey of U.S. households sponsored by the government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The survey showed that between 1996 and 2008, the number of children receiving ADHD medications rose steadily, from 1.8 million to 2.3 million. Among 13- to 18-year-olds, stimulant use increased from 2.3 to 4.9 percent over the study period.

Stimulant use was highest among 6- to 12-year-olds. In 2008, about 5.1 percent of children in this age group were prescribed stimulants. Only about 0.1 percent of preschoolers were prescribed stimulants, the survey showed. This suggests use of ADHD drugs among very young children is disfavored, the researchers said."

So, in spite of the fact that we read continually that the drug companies and doctors are pushing ADHD medication on to children, here we read in reality it is disfavoured. 

Now, for the final section:
"Most kids don't get stimulants. Despite the increase in stimulant use, most children with ADHD are not treated with these drugs, the researchers said. In 2007, about 9.5 percent of children in the United States were diagnosed with ADHD. Children with more severe symptoms are more likely to be taking stimulants, the researchers said. But those with milder symptoms may receive non-drug treatments, including behavioral therapies."

So, 4.9 percent get medication. 9.5 percent have ADHD. Have we overprescribed?

The study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (Sept. 28th). And what does it tell us? That less than 50% of kids with ADHD get medications. That the increase in children getting treatment for ADHD has been ongoing and hopefully will continue. And that even a clearly positive research article about a disorder that nearly 10% of children have can be misinterpreted by writers looking to get attention.
By the way, research shows that teens who have ADHD and don't get appropriate treatment are MORE likely to have problems with alcohol, drugs and the law, not the other way around.

As usual, let me warn you that this blog, any of my other blogs, or my web pages are not designed to provide you with an assessment, diagnosis or treatment. If you are concerned you have a health issue such as ADHD, anxiety, depression or Asperger's | autism please see your health service provider, either a medical doctor or Registered Psychologist. What may appear to be symptoms of one disorder can often be caused by another unexpected disorder. Other disorders, such as ADHD, are very likely to exist at the same time as another disorder (called co-morbid disorder) such as anxiety, depressing or OCD. You need to see a professional to find this out. On-line symptom checklists will not provide this, and are often misleading.

Dr. Jim Roche