By Alan Viau
“He just needs to settle down.” That’s the statement I saw most often on my son’s report card! They couldn’t handle my active son. The teachers even suggested that he might have ADHD and that drugs might help.
Ritalin is a speed drug. That’s what they wanted me to put my son on, to settle him down so he could be the good little student for them. We knew that there was something about his behavior but we were not willing to shove a bunch of medication down his throat without a clear diagnosis. Why would I want my son going around in a drug induced stupor? Would that not just teach him that life’s problems were handled by taking a pill?
We looked into various alternative medicines, with limited success. The school would not accommodate my son in taking verbal exams instead of written. Teachers could not tolerate his inability to sit at a desk all day long. He was labelled as a troubled child.
Years later, as behavior problems became more pronounced, we were finally able to determine that he is bipolar. Now with a proper diagnosis, we moved to a treatment regime for him. Today he is successful and continues his journey in dealing with his condition.
In the news these days there are stories that tell us young people are depressed. As a result, they are given anti-depressants. These powerful mind drugs have not been safely tested on children and youth, yet they are being dispensed for the same reasons that were used to push my son to Ritalin. They are ‘problem’ children.
The Canadian Paediatric Society claims anti-depressant use may be helpful for kids with depression. So let’s give them Prozac. The benefits are dubious and the use can be risky. Kids are defined as individuals under 16 years of age. They have not reached maturity and their bodies and minds are still developing. What is the wisdom of giving powerful mind drugs to kids? What are the long-term effects of anti-depressants on a developing mind? No one knows.
Here is a startling fact. One in 50 youth given anti-depressants will experience a worsening of suicidal thoughts or develop new thoughts of self-harm. Compare this to the case of Vioxx a few years ago. Vioxx was taken off the market because it was determined that, out of 80 million users, about 100,000 people died from its use. It was taken off the market because 1 in 800 could die. Yet, anti-depressants are prescribed despite a 1 in 50 chance of suicidal thoughts?
Kids deserve our love and attention. Their problems need to be figured out first. Appropriate treatment can then be used. They don’t need to be doped up first so that they can fit into a contrived system. It only teaches them that a diet of drugs is how life is handled.