Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paying Attention


The New York Times this week quietly published an extensive piece investigating the role of advertising and pharmaceutical drug sales in the recent rise of ADD and ADHD in the American population. The article takes an open-eyed look at the correlation between increased marketing, both to prescribing physicians and the public and the rate of prescription for those conditions. According to the CDC, more than 3.5 million children are being medicated for ADD or ADHD. As with any medical diagnosis and treatment there are many people that genuinely suffer and are in need of these drugs, but, it also seems like a fad. I know that there is a good market for Adderall and Ritalin on the recreational drug scene, and prescriptions come from diagnoses. I also know that the symptoms and definitions of both ADD and ADHD are broadly defined and easy to fake. And the ads, they promise parents good grades and a happy home, no tough love required. These are powerful drugs, and there are a lot of us taking them. I cannot help but wonder what role our collective addiction to medication plays in all of this. It would be wise for us to have an honest discussion about behavior, expectations, and parenting in conjunction with the widespread medication of our children before we wake up and discover we have a generation built on pharmaceuticals. 


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