Medication Treatment (Psychopharmacology)|
While all of the
above educational & behavioral interventions are certainly important and desirable,
for most children with true ADD, medications
ultimately prove to be the single most effective treatment, at least in the short run.
Often, medication is what allows structure, positive reinforcement, and other
modifications to work. Medication is never a "cure", but it virtually always
reduces the symptoms of inattention. Conversely, when a child thought to have ADD fails to
respond to appropriate medications, this should call the accuracy of the diagnosis
seriously into question.
There is a tendency sometimes to cast the
debate about medication for ADD in moral terms: Are we "a nation drugging its
children"? Medications to treat ADD are nothing new - they have been around for more
than 60 years. The first medical papers published on stimulant treatment
of ADD were published in the 1930's. However, in the past
decade, there has been a five to
ten-fold jump in the number of American children being
prescribed such medications. Does this represent "improved recognition" of ADD,
as some would contend? Is it over-diagnosis, as I suggest above? That may be a matter of
opinion, but it is important to remember that the real issue is accurate diagnosis,
not the "morality" of medication. If a child truly does have ADD, medication
will help and that is good. What's even better is today we have many more
options for medication treatment, many with far few side effects, than we have
in the past, and our understanding of how to use these medications and how they
work has vastly improved.
Finally, there is absolutely NO
evidence linking physician-prescribed treatment with ADD medications to later
substance abuse . To the contrary, ample evidence now shows that
medication treatment during childhood and early adolescence for ADD actually
REDUCES the risk of substance abuse in later adolescence and early adulthood!