The Issue Of Overmedication Essay Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Children, Family, Drugs, Psychology, Medicine, Pharmacy, Disorders, Diagnosis

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/03

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Child medication in America has increased tremendously since the 1990s especially that of psychotropic drugs which are primarily for behavioral and mental disorders. In the past years, hindering one’s child from taking medication is seen as unethical and irresponsible. Recently however, several issues aroused from the questionable increase in the diagnosis of children with behavioral and mental disorders accompanied with the boom of medicinal drugs that these children have to take. The increases in number of these children are not the only concern; for the greater issue lies in the number of drugs a child is taking to the point where it is bordering overmedication. Take that of Gavin Gorski for example, as reported by CNN, who takes seventeen different pills a day to cure his behavioral and mental problems (Park). Many have already questioned the truth behind this phenomenon: do these medications still aim to cure the disorders that it promises to cure or are these prescriptions simply a result of marketing strategies driven by profit-driven companies? This paper finds itself proving for the latter through the arguments that follow.
The study of Sparks and Duncan presented the different statistics of psychotropic medications in children. They showed that in the 1990s drug prescription for behavioral and mental disorders amongst children rose to 300% wherein the most popular medication were stimulants followed by antidepressants. The more alarming report however is the trend for polypharmacy, which is the prescription of more than one drug, which increased from 4.7% to 11.6% in the years 1987 to 1996 (Sparks,Duncan 26). This means that should a child be diagnosed with multiple disorders, there is a high probability that the same child will be prescribed with a medication for each disorder. Currently, the trend is the same: increasing. Obviously, this increase is a result of the increase in children diagnosed with behavioral or mental problems. In Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) alone, the number of diagnosed children grew to 3% each year in the years 1997 to 2006 and 5% each year in the years 2003 to 2011 according to America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (The Economist). This trend is projected to be higher since the diagnostic manual released by The American Psychiatric Association included reluctance to do homework, losing of school books, and fidgeting, among other things as signs of children with ADHD which are if not entirely, almost common to every normal child.
Aside from the possibility of improper diagnosis, the effectivity of the drugs themselves is being questioned. Sparks and Duncan noted in their paper “four fatal flaws in drug research” through the Emslie study which shows the problem with the procedure used to asses Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) used as antidepressants. First, is the client and clinician ratings wherein the researchers diagnosed a significant improvement in the patient, but the client themselves did not feel any difference. Second is the active and inert placebo effect wherein the sample groups are divided into two, one with the placebo pill and the second with the real pill. This is promising, but research found that certain individuals were able to identify which the real pill is making the study invalid. Third is time of measurement where in the allotted time to evaluate the pill is not fit for an accurate result. Lastly, is the conflict of interest wherein before the study even begins, the pharmaceutical company trying to release the drug already has the researchers bias to approve it. This issue is alarming since, even with the drug being ineffective, this does not negate the fact that it may have harmful side effects to a child’s body.
Having a child undergo medication is due to the hope of finally and permanently curing his or her illness. This may be one of the reasons why even with the danger of having a child take numerous pills is present, parents tolerate it thinking that it would not last long anyway. In article written in New York Times, Sroufe argued that having a child take focus-increasing drugs neither cure the problem in the long run nor improve academic standing. In fact, one of its side effects is stunted growth. It is an unfortunate fact that the results presented to society regarding these drugs are good for short-term period only (Sroufe).
Despite these entire clamors in persuading the majority to act against the use of drugs, several researches argue for the continued use of it. Insel pointed out in his paper that conspiracy theory for the increase prescription of drugs to children cannot be possible because most of these drugs are not prescribed by psychiatrist and yet they are widely used. Furthermore, the increase in the demand for these products might be seen as a symptom and is a sign that children are not treated enough. The statistics showing children prescribed with antidepressants and the like may be alarming, but more so that there is an even greater number who are diagnosed with behavioral and mental problems. Another study about medication taken by the youth showed that indeed there are a great number of children who uses behavioral and mental correcting drugs, but they concluded that it proves further the need for a more intensified and appropriate medication for the youth diagnosed with these problems.
Pharmaceutical drugs are a great leap to give individuals with disorders to have a chance at a normal life, but as is with any great things, it must be handled well especially since it is a child’s life that is at stake. Anything taken over what is necessary may and will have its toll. Furthermore, the effect of love and proper attention by the family is the most basic care that can be given to a child. Drugs must only be a supplementary to this.

Works Cited

Insel, Thomas. “Are Children Overmedicated?”. National Institute of Mental Health. 6 June 2014. Web. 25 March 2015. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2014/are-children-overmedicated.shtml.
Merikangas, KR. Et al. “Medication use in US youth with mental disorders.” NCBI.2013. Web. 25 March 2015. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23403911>
Park, Madison. “Little people, lots of pills: Experts debate medicating kids.” CNN. 24 May 2011. Web. 25 March 2015. < http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/23/kids.overmedicated/>
Sparks, Jacqueline. Duncan, Barry. “The Ethics and Science of Medicating Children.” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. 2004. Web. 25 March 2015. http://psychrights.org/research/digest/adhd/medicatingkids.pdf
Sroufe, Alan L. “Ritalin Gone Wrong”. New York Times. 28 January 2012. Web. 25 March 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/childrens-add-drugs-dont-work-long-term.html
“Medicating America’s Children: Beautiful Minds.” The Economist. 1 March 2014. Web. 25 March 2015. http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/03/medicating-america-s-children

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