America’s Overmedicated Kids

overmedication

My first exposure to the impact of psychiatric drugs was in 4th grade. A classmate named Joshua, from a Jehovah’s Witness family, sat alone in the large grass field at school. Formerly more or less behaviorally on par with the rest of us elementary-aged boys and girls, Joshua was now sullen and isolated, spending all of his nutrition and lunch periods searching for four leaf clovers. He told me he was taking something called Ritalin. I have many memories through the years of other classmates from that time – how their personalities developed, what they ended up doing with their lives, etc. For Joshua, my memories end with him sitting in that field. He had become like the residents of the Doldrums in ‘The Phantom Tollbooth,’ a book I had read that same school-year, stuck in a ‘colorless place where thinking and laughing are not allowed.’

In an article on Governing.com, Chris Kardish reports that “more kids in the U.S., especially low-income and foster-care children” are on psychotropic medication than in any other country. That claim comes as no surprise to me, with our quick-fix mindset, our politically correct inability to blame anyone or anything for personal problems, our naturalism-materialism worldview that cannot conceive of anything other than a bio-genetic-evolutionary basis for mental distress, and our crumbling social infrastructure of intact families and the middle class.

The article is well worth a read. It primarily focuses on the increase in psychotropic prescriptions among low-income and foster-care children in the state of Kentucky, but touches on other states as well. Here are some highlights:

  • “I remembered thinking you shouldn’t be on more medications than your age.”
  • Children in the United States are on drugs for longer and more often than kids in any other country.
  • Between 1997 and 2006, American prescriptions for antipsychotics increased somewhere between sevenfold and twelvefold, according to a report by the University of Maryland.
  • A researcher at the University of Kentucky found that antipsychotic prescriptions for Medicaid children had increased 270 percent from 2000 to 2010, compared with 53 percent among adults.
  • “We’ve reached the limits of medicalization,” says Julie Zito, a professor of pharmacy and psychiatry at the University of Maryland. “We’re medicating poverty.”
  • Brenzel and others suspect that many of Kentucky’s prescriptions come from primary care physicians who haven’t performed comprehensive assessments to prove the drugs are appropriate.
  • … “atypical antipsychotics” promised better results with fewer side effects (both claims have been disputed), and aggressive marketing made them a common fix for routine depression and anxiety.
  • Children over the past decade have increasingly been given antipsychotics to combat aggression and other behavior problems, which are unapproved uses.
  • … the U.S. prescribes psychotropic meds at two times or three times the rate of Western European countries.
  • [In Connecticut, a report showed] a threefold increase in amphetamine prescriptions and a fourfold increase in antidepressants. Some of the children receiving prescriptions were as young as 3 years old.

Read the full article here.

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