In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control published statistics saying that more than 6% of American children were taking drugs for ADHD (typically the stimulants Ritalin or Adderal).
This Bloomberg View article, Ritalin May Be Sabotaging your Kids, summarizes a National Bureau of Economic Research study that looks at the percent of children taking these medications before and after drug insurance coverage was increased in Quebec Province in 1997.
The article says, “By 2007, 44 percent of Canada’s ADHD prescriptions were being written in Quebec, which has a little more than 20 percent of Canada’s population.”
Of even more concern, the researchers found evidence that not only did the children’s performance in school not improve, their levels of depression and anxiety actually became slightly worse. They were also more likely to need to repeat a grade and less likely to graduate from high school.
Janet Currie and Mark Stable, the authors of the Bloomberg View article, ask the question, what is it about being medicated that leads to poorer performance?
They speculate that it may be the stigma of having been labeled. Or, being less disruptive, the children may not receive teacher attention that they need. Are the increases in depression and anxiety side effects of the medication?
Why is this subject economic research? I don’t know the intent of the National Bureau, but it may be because the increase in the use of the drugs came about because, due to the increase in drug coverage, they became more affordable. If you’d like to read the research itself, you can find it here: Do Stimulant Medications Improve Educational and Behavioral Outcomes for Children with ADHD?
It’s nice as a neurofeedback trainer to be able to offer an option to medication. Results with both children and adults with ADHD have been very good.
Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback