No More ADHD (updated) by Dr. Mary Ann Block, is loaded with stimulant-bashing facts and complaints that the educational system pushes “labels” and meds. Families are directed to aggressively seek out doctors who will investigate the causes of ADHD symptoms: “If the only tool a doctor has is a prescription pad, then all anyone will ever get is a drug.” Particularly striking is a detailed section blaming some prescription medications for much of the school violence and other childhood acts of murder and rage we have witnessed the last several years.
While reading her book, I was also researching the literature for the current issue of Latitudes. At every turn I came across recent disturbing studies on psychotropic medications:
- Reports on cancer-causing properties of some antidepressants
- Proof that Ritalin acts like cocaine and can encourage future illicit drug use
- Descriptions of life-threatening syndromes set off by medication combinations
- The dangers of abruptly stopping psychiatric meds
- Warnings from drug manufacturers that their medications can trigger mania, rage, and other psychotic episodes in a small percentage of users. (Just multiply several million children by two percent — it is no small number.)
I had seen news articles on these topics come and go over the past few years, but the total picture was sobering. Some of the studies are highlighted in this issue. A shocking one: researchers in Michigan examined Medicaid records of 223 children identified with ADHD at age three years or younger. Many had conditions that commonly accompany ADHD. Over half the preschoolers had received psychotropic medication. Twenty-two different meds were used, with Ritalin one of the most common, and frequently a child received more than one. This — while their little toddler brains are still in crucial stages of development. Novartis, the manufacturer of Ritalin, has warned that it should not be used with children under six. In fact, they advise that safety studies for long-term use are not available for children at all.
We must ask: What is causing the current epidemic of children’s neurological health problems? What are the consequences of feeding drugs to children when we should be vigorously attempting to strengthen their immune and nervous systems? Dr. Block’s disdain for conventional medical and educational communities is blatant, at times overstated. But she’s shouting at us because no one is listening. She’s telling us that the house is on fire, and something has to be done before it’s too late.
You’ll find No More ADHD; 10 Steps to Help Improve Your Child’s Attention and Behavior Without Drugs displayed at most bookstores. Look for the fire-engine red cover. Also on Amazon.