ADHD Medication for Children: Are the benefits worth it?

In this article Kaitlin Barnett weighs in on the prescription of stimulants to children diagnosed with ADHD. Since the heavy onset of these drugs to children in the 1980s, this has been a hotly debated topic for years. We often hear about the views of parents having children that are medicated, as well as from young adults whom look back on their childhood everyday medication and how it made them feel. There are the obvious concerns: is medication being overprescribed? Is it changing children’s personalities? Effecting physical and psychological development?

One group of people that we don’t often hear from are the children themselves. A study conducted by bioethicists Ilina Singh addresses this. She interviewed 151 American children ages 9-14 asking them questions like, “Does taking your medication make you feel like a different person?” The overall consensus from the kids was that it changed their behavior but not their personality. Many of them also mentioned that they appreciated the fact that it allowed them to “stop and think” before making rash decisions. To them it seemed that the stimulants didn’t change their personalities, thus, their identity.

But are they really at an age and level of development where they can have proper insight to these issues? Most children admitted that they didn’t even know what ADHD means or why they are even taking the medication.

Barnett seems to think that the positives outweigh the negatives and that overall, anthropologists agree on this.