Is the use of drugs in children's cases of "Attention Deficit with or without Hyperactivty Disorder " (ADHD) ethical?
by MBaexriumbee on September 18, 2014 - 11:46pm
On 28 of January 2012, the New York Times published the opinion-based article "Ritalin Gone Wrong" by L. Alan Sroufe. Even though he does not cite his sources, this professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development did argued a valuable point. The thesis of his article was that the population relied too much on Ritalin, and other drugs treating attention deficit, and the author raise the idea that those drugs might not be as efficient as there are supposed to.
The context of this topic is very important. First, the National Institute of Mental Health describes the Attention Deficit with or without Hyperactivity Disorder's (ADHD) symptoms as having "difficulty staying focused and paying attention, having difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity)". ADHD is a planetary problem. According to Florence T. Bourgeois, in her study "Premarket Safety And Efficacy Studies For ADHD Medications In Children", up to 10 percent of children in the U.S. could be affected by an attention disorder. In Quebec, according to Denise Proulx in her 2004 article "The Ritalin Children", she states that between three to eight percent of children in Quebec could be affected by ADHD. In term of medications, in Australia, the prescribing rates of stimulants (the family of drugs that treats ADHD) have risen of 72 percent between 2000 and 2011, according to Bart Partridge. These statistics don't lie. ADHD is a growing global problem, affecting mainly children. Facing the growth of this problem, our society must face the question of the ethicality of prescribing stimulants to children demonstrating attention abnormalities.
Personally, I found that prescribing stimulants is unethical. First of all, we must start with the principle that everything harmful to children is unethical. Following this line of questioning, in her study, "Premarket Safety And Efficacy Studies for ADHD Medications in Children", published in 2014, Florence Bourgeois evaluated the credibility of several children stimulants' premarket studies. It is prior to know before this premise that 50 to 80 percent of children still demonstrated ADHD symptoms at adolescence and 40 to 60 percent of those teenagers will still have ADHD as adults. So, Florence Bourgeois looked at the length of 32 premarket studies of 20 drugs that are supposed to be taken possibly over their lifetimes. Her results showed that 38 percent of the drugs had premarket studies of a length below 4 weeks and 77 percent of the drugs had premarket studies that lasted less than 6 months. Then, we comprehend from this study that drugs that are supposed to be taken on long-terms had no real premarket studies looking at their long-term side-effects. Therefore, the premise behind this explanation is that it is not determined if stimulants have any long-term harm on children. In presence of doubt, I would rather consider the possibility of negative outcome for stimulants and consider them harmful to children. Second premise, I will argue that the positive outcome of stimulants is limited to suppress an attention deficit as there is still a higher dropout rate, higher rate of drug abuse and even higher car accident rates for person with ADHD taking stimulants. In conclusion, I consider stimulant unethical as we are giving drugs, with a possible long-term negative outcome, while having a limited positive outcome, to children. We are basically playing games with the life of millions of children, something that is clearly unethical.
The arguments in favor for the stimulants come from the article "Ritalin Gone Right: Children, Medications and ADHD", written in response to L. Alan Sroufe's article, by John M. Grohol, a doctor in psychology. Grohol implicitly states the principle that everything that benefits an individual's life is ethical. His first premise is that medications are easier and simpler to use than following therapies. His second premise is that the cost of taking stimulants is less than the substitute to drugs, therapies. Those health-unrelated premises are the motives for John M. Grohol to think that stimulants are an ethical, valid treatment for ADHD.
In conclusion, even though there is people against stimulants, the pharmaceutical companies will probably have the winning side in this conflict with their "credible" studies. What can be done nevertheless, is protecting children of systematic diagnosis and prescriptions while looking for the causes of ADHD.
"Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)." National Institute of Mental Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014..
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