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Medications for ADHD:  Are They Helpful or Harmful? — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 22, 2009 at 6:55 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Medications for ADHD: Are They Helpful or Harmful?


An ADHD child is usually not too difficult to find in a crowd.He is usually heard wherever he goes and tends to create a ruckus.He has difficulty focusing and is easily distracted. In the past, this child was referred to as hyperactive.Prescription medications are now the standard of care in treating ADHD children, but there are questions as to whether they are helpful or harmful.

Who Is Taking Prescription ADHD Medications?

Currently ten percent of ten-year-old boys are taking medications for ADHD.It is commonly reported that 1.7 million adults and 3.3 million children are currently prescribed medications for ADHD.In addition, ADHD drugs are often sold illegally.They have the same effect on people without ADHD as those with it, and they achieve a cocaine-like high.

What do ADHD Medications do for ADHD Patients?

With the use of PET scans and other recent technologies, scientists have seen that those with ADHD have a much high level of dopamine in the basal ganglia area of the brain than those without ADHD.Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which affects attention, emotion and movement.To counteract this high level of dopamine, doctors prescribe stimulants which seem counterproductive as the ADHD person is already hyperactive.Somehow the stimulants are to slow down the dopamine and adrenaline production in the body.

What are the ADHD Medication Side Effects?

One big problem with stimulants is that it can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in certain patients.Stimulants are also known to slow down growth.When a person stops taking stimulants the growth seems to resume, but the helpful effects of the stimulants end immediately.

Another emerging problem with stimulants is hallucinations and psychotic symptoms.A recent study found that nine percent of children taking stimulants showed some type of psychotic symptoms where there had been none previously.Tics can be another result of stimulants.

What is a Black-Box Warning?

An FDA drug advisory panel issues black-box warnings to inform doctors and the public that a certain drug might carry severe risks.There are less than ten percent of prescription drugs that have these warnings attached to them.This panel voted to call for a black-box warning on ADHD drugs because of some reports of patients who experienced cardiac arrest, sudden death and toxic reactions to the drugs.

Are ADHD Medications Proven Effective?

The Drug Effectiveness Review Project, formed in 2003 and based out of Oregon State University, reviewed over 2,200 studies down on ADHD drugs to give the public and insurance companies information about the medications.Their review of all of these studies concluded that there is not enough evidence of long-term safety associated with these drugs.They also concluded that there is not enough evidence that the drugs help those with ADHD in academic performance.Evidence that ADHD drugs helps adults is not established, and it is not even clear how the drugs actually work.

Are ADHD Medications Helpful or Harmful?

ADHD symptoms actually tend to resolve themselves over time.Safety over these medications is becoming a growing concern as well as the over-prescribing of them.While it is unclear that these medicines actually help ADHD patients, there are enough issues raised over their safety to outweigh any potential good that they do.

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