“83,776 tons of legal speed were approved for production in 2010 equaling more than half a pound for every man, woman and child in America.”
The Huffington Post – September 9, 2011
by Lawrence Diller, MD
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released analysis of data revealing a major increase in the incidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children in the United States. The number of children between the ages of five and 17 reported by their parents to “have” ADHD or the non-hyperactive form of the disorder (ADD) had risen from 7 to 9 percent over a decade ending in 2009. Nine percent translates to 4,858,210 children according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
In actuality, the researchers do not know for certain whether these children actually meet criteria for ADHD/ADD. The data is culled from a national telephone survey which asks parents the question, “whether or not a doctor or other health-care provider had ever told them that their child had attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, that is, ADD or ADHD.’”
Since there is no biological or psychometric test for ADHD/ADD no one can be certain these children have a definitive neurological condition.
In its extreme form the hyperactivity and impulsivity of ADHD are easy to recognize. But most children are commonly diagnosed with the mild variety which blends seamlessly into the behavior of normal but active or lively children. It is with this mild form where opinions vary widely between professionals. This survey then only measured what parents had been told.
Still the continued rise in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD/ADD in children is unmistakable. As a long time observer and participant (I prescribe drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta every day) of this trend, I have watched the 20-year growth of this condition with curiosity and some consternation. I have also been involved in what has been colloquially called “The Ritalin Wars” — an often polemical debate conducted in the media as to whether the widespread use of prescription stimulant drugs (essentially amphetamine) is good or bad for the children of this country.
The upward trend continues. Given the current CDC data, one can safely estimate (based on previously detailed distribution curves) that one of six 11-year-old white boys with medical insurance currently take a stimulant drug at least during the school week. Is this over medication or simply good medical care for children with a previously undiagnosed and untreated condition? What I do know is that we are the only society currently managing our under performing/misbehaving children with drugs to this degree.
While the diagnosis of ADHD/ADD can seem ephemeral, the production of prescription stimulants, whose use is closely tied to the diagnosis, is monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Since 1996 the annual amount of Ritalin type drugs approved for production by the DEA multiplied 4000 times to 50 million kilograms, and for Adderall 10000 times to 26 million kilograms. In more common terms, 83,776 tons of legal speed were approved for production in 2010 equaling more than half a pound for every man, woman and child in America.
The U.S. is a signatory to a 1972 United Nations treaty monitoring the production and sale of potentially addicting substances. The U.N.’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) based in Vienna, monitors the production of legal stimulants worldwide. INCB data shows that in 2009 the U.S., representing 4 percent of the world’s population, produced 88 percent of the world’s legal Ritalin type drugs. Canada uses a third per capita of prescription stimulants compared to the U.S. — Germany, one eighth, the U.K. one twelfth, Japan, one fiftieth.
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-diller/overuse-of-prescription-drugs_b_950802.html