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.

Works Cited

"Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)." National Institute of Mental Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014..

Bourgeois, Florence T., Jeong Min Kim, and Kenneth D. Mandl. "Premarket Safety And Efficacy Studies For ADHD Medications In Children." Plos ONE 9.7 (2014): 1-8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Charach, Alice, et al. "Exploring Stimulant Treatment In ADHD: Narratives Of Young Adolescents And Their Parents." BMC Psychiatry 14.1 (2014): 1-20. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Evans, Steven W., Brandon K. Schultz, and Christine E. DeMars. "High School-Based Treatment For Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Results From A Pilot Study Examining Outcomes And Dosage." School Psychology Review 43.2 (2014): 185-202. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Grohol, John M., Psy. D. " Ritalin Gone Right: Children, Medications and ADHD - World of Psychology." Psych Central.com. Psych Central, 6 Feb. 2012. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Konopka, Lukasz M. "Understanding Attention Deficit Disorder: A Neuroscience Prospective." Croatian Medical Journal 55.2 (2014): 174-176. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Partridge, Brad, Jayne Lucke, and Wayne Hall. "Over-Diagnosed And Over-Treated: A Survey Of Australian Public Attitudes Towards The Acceptability Of Drug Treatment For Depression And ADHD." BMC Psychiatry 14.1 (2014): 1-9. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Proulx, Denise. Les Enfants Ritalin. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Université Du Québec. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Sroufe, L. Alan. "Ritalin Gone Wrong." The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

 

Comments

First of all, I like the way the subject was treated. You clearly stated your principle, which I hold too, and you discussed your topic accordingly.
I agree with you, Ritalin and similar medications have major downsides that need to be acknowledged for the sake of the children's short-term and long-term health. It is debatable whether or not we should "drug" our children at such a young age, especially with so many doctors' diagnoses that are sometimes, as you stated, "systematic".
However, I think that in a few cases, the need for this medication is obvious and inevitable. Someone really close to me has an enormous Attention Deficit Disorder, aggravated by a high level of Hyperactivity. Basically, without his daily pill taken, he is a dysfunctional teenager. He is distracted by everything and it is almost impossible to have his attention for more than 20 seconds. In his case, I think that Ritalin has more positive aspects than negative ones. Yes, this medication can have downsides for him, but in general, it helps him enormously to live a normal life. I found an article describing the life of a child living the same situation. The mother was very reluctant to medicate her child at such a young age, however, she said that Ritalin literally saved her child. (Here is the link: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/856-3.html)
Therefore, in some cases, I think taking Ritalin is ethical for children, because it makes their lives better.

Firstly, I find that your sources seem very legitimate and the information in your essay is very interesting but I have to disagree with you on the fact that giving ADHD drugs to children is unethical. Having an attention disorder myself I find that having medication is very useful in learning situations. I agree with you on the fact that giving drugs to children is very serious but these drugs have positive outcomes in learning situations. I know how hard it is to try and concentrate without taking medication and I am glad to be taking the medication because it gives me the same learning opportunities as the other students. What might be an interesting subject to think of is the overprescription of ADHD medication. ADHD has become over the years a very common disease, adults seem to qualify any children with learning or behaviour troubles as children with ADHD. The website I found elaborates more on the subject, because ADHD is very hard to diagnose, some children take drugs that they do not need and that can result in very bad consequences.
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2014/09/too-many-children-diagnosed-w...

I particularly enjoyed reading this blog post because you clearly stated your principle and gave valid reasoning to back up your ethical question. It was clear to the reader that you are in disagreement with the use of drugs for children’s who have ADHD. I agree with you that it is unethical to prescribe stimulants to children. I would go as far to say that the ends, in this case, do not justify the means. Although a child may benefit by taking such medicine, there are many likely short term and long term effects that may occur. As the stimulant increases heart rate and blood pressure, potential short term effects of the prescribed medicine could be a heart attack and even a seizure. In the long run, children may become addicted to the stimulants, if they use them very often. As a result of one taking high doses of a prescribed stimulant, there’s a possibility that one’s body temperature may sky rocket and have irregular heartbeat. I believe that if these drugs are, in the end, harming children, then they should be re-evaluated. Pharmaceutical companies can alter the ingredients that go into the stimulants in such a way that is less harmful to a child suffering from ADHD. In conclusion, all this to say that I would agree with your original principle that everything harmful to children is unethical. I am a firm believer that every individual is born with equal value in the world. A person who has a condition should not be valued any less than a royal. This world is filled with different people and we should all value one another the same way. (Here is the link I used for the effects of stimulants http://www.drugfree.org/drug-guide/prescription-stimulants/)

I agree with you about the fact that in our modern society, we are inclined to give drugs for every disease occuring. We don't always look up for other alternatives that could be more natural and still effective. It is also true that the increasing rate of prescribed stimulants is huge for only 10 years, but I think that it could be explained in a different and more positive way. Some children do really have serious concentration problems and without taking any medication, I find that many of them lose a great potential. Indeed, people with ADHD just need resources such as medication to function like people without ADHD since their brain do not function in the same way. I don't think it is just a question of ethics here because this disease has several impacts over the society. People who are not treated cost a lot more to society than people taking medication. The first require special education services, supervision and disciplinary actions. They are also more inclined to criminal activities and delinquency if they are not treated. There is the achievement problems too since, as mentioned earlier, their potential is not fully developed. This costs a lot to the society but moreover, it harms the person with the disease. It can lead to a great deal of other problems. The following article http://www.addandaddiction.com/articles.htm explains in detail how a ADHD not treated can affect someone's life. Also, informations about ADHD and treatments can be found on the Canadian ADHD/ADD Resource Alliance (CADDRA) website (http://www.caddra.ca/) which is a professionaly organization making conferences. I think that it would be great to take a look and take those arguments in consideration because I sometimes find that people do not hold enough information to make a claim about a particular subject.

First off, I'd like to say that it is refreshing to find an article that does not talk about human euthanasia.
I really enjoy the way you delved deeper in to this subject, pulling in multiple medical sources to go further and prove your point. It was rather interesting seeing something debated that isn't very popularly heard around in the modern world. I find myself wondering if there was something in particular that drew you to the topic. I, for one, know I was brought here solely because if I had to read about human euthanasia one more time I was going to lose my mind.
Furthermore, I found this rather interesting document (http://www.adhdvoices.com/documents/VoicesReport2012.pdf) that spoke of the use of Ritalin for ADHD in children and adolescents. It discussed the uses, positive and negative points, the morality of prescribing Ritalin etc. I hope it is somewhat interesting for you to read as I found it rather interesting myself as I skimmed over it.
My only critique would be to not appoint straight out that this is the thesis and this is the principle as it draws away from the strength of your research. All in all, however, I highly enjoyed reading this and hope that your future research turns out well.

First off, I'd like to say that it is refreshing to find an article that does not talk about human euthanasia.
I really enjoy the way you delved deeper in to this subject, pulling in multiple medical sources to go further and prove your point. It was rather interesting seeing something debated that isn't very popularly heard around in the modern world. I find myself wondering if there was something in particular that drew you to the topic. I, for one, know I was brought here solely because if I had to read about human euthanasia one more time I was going to lose my mind.
Furthermore, I found this rather interesting document (http://www.adhdvoices.com/documents/VoicesReport2012.pdf) that spoke of the use of Ritalin for ADHD in children and adolescents. It discussed the uses, positive and negative points, the morality of prescribing Ritalin etc. I hope it is somewhat interesting for you to read as I found it rather interesting myself as I skimmed over it.
My only critique would be to not appoint straight out that this is the thesis and this is the principle as it draws away from the strength of your research. All in all, however, I highly enjoyed reading this and hope that your future research turns out well.

First off, I'd like to say that it is refreshing to find an article that does not talk about human euthanasia.
I really enjoy the way you delved deeper in to this subject, pulling in multiple medical sources to go further and prove your point. It was rather interesting seeing something debated that isn't very popularly heard around in the modern world. I find myself wondering if there was something in particular that drew you to the topic. I, for one, know I was brought here solely because if I had to read about human euthanasia one more time I was going to lose my mind.
Furthermore, I found this rather interesting document (http://www.adhdvoices.com/documents/VoicesReport2012.pdf) that spoke of the use of Ritalin for ADHD in children and adolescents. It discussed the uses, positive and negative points, the morality of prescribing Ritalin etc. I hope it is somewhat interesting for you to read as I found it rather interesting myself as I skimmed over it.
My only critique would be to not appoint straight out that this is the thesis and this is the principle as it draws away from the strength of your research. All in all, however, I highly enjoyed reading this and hope that your future research turns out well.

In my opinion, I do not believe that kids suffering from attention disorder should be given Ritalin or other drugs. The key principles you give through you text are very good examples. I agree that further testing should be done on long term affects to prevent even more damage then done. Nevertheless, I think that kids who have trouble focusing should not be given a drug to make them ethically "normal". On the other side, teachers and schools administrations should invest into new techniques of delivering knowledge. You mention the harm it does to an individual's body but there's sociological harm. Did you know that people with:Psychiatric disorders such as " attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [6,7][...] were common among young adolescents with bullying behavior."(Wan Ismail) The relation between ADHD and bullying is created by the observation of low self control. The principle argument in this case is; if it benefits other kids then is it moral to enforce treatment on a ADHD kid.

In my opinion, I do not believe that kids suffering from attention disorder should be given Ritalin or other drugs. The key principles you give through you text are very good examples. I agree that further testing should be done on long term affects to prevent even more damage then done. Nevertheless, I think that kids who have trouble focusing should not be given a drug to make them ethically "normal". On the other side, teachers and schools administrations should invest into new techniques of delivering knowledge. You mention the harm it does to an individual's body but there's sociological harm. Did you know that people with:Psychiatric disorders such as " attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [6,7][...] were common among young adolescents with bullying behavior."(Wan Ismail) The relation between ADHD and bullying is created by the observation of low self control. The principle argument in this case is; if it benefits other kids then is it moral to enforce treatment on a ADHD kid.

I was really drawn to this post mainly because I have very little knowledge in this area. I like the fact that you quoted studies and then followed it with your opinion. I personally feel that prescribing children with medication that might change who they are in the long run is wrong. When I was a child, Doctors said that my mother should consider putting me on medication because I was exhibiting behaviors that could associate me with ADHD. Thankfully my mother refused and believed that I was just being a normal kid. I am 20 years old and do not have ADHD. This goes to show that some children might be getting prescribed medication for disorders that they might not even have. With that being said I agree with you 100%. Thanks for the post!

I tend to agree with the author for the most part. I think that our school system today focuses too much on testing small children and forcing them to sit in a classroom for long periods of time in order to “learn”. Naturally young kids will get restless and energetic after having to sit and listen for so long. In addition, I think that ADD medicine is extremely over-prescribed. While I am not denying the existence of ADD and ADHD, I believe that it is often misdiagnosed in people who do not have the disorder. I believe that just like there is a minimum age requirement to drink alcohol, there should be a minimum age requirement to have an ADD medication prescription. In my college, it is often easier for someone to get Adderall that isn’t prescribed for them than it is for them to buy a beer. Stimulants are very powerful drugs that can have very harmful side effects. It is important to ensure that they are only given to adults who need them, not children who have trouble sitting at a desk for 8 hours.

The fact that I have personal experience with this issue is what made me want to look at this article. As a matter of fact almost every one of my 11 siblings and I have been subjected to drugs because of our “ADHD behavior”. We got adopted in groups: first my brother’s Josh and Jonathan, then me and my two brothers Preston and Brian, then Sarina and Michael, after that came Tatiana, and finally came the four youngest; Teehonestee, Kwame, Tatyana, and Chance. Mom and dad took us off them because they couldn’t stand how we turned into zombies while we were on them. I got to see first-hand what these drugs did to us when we adopted Tatiana. The drugs they put her on made her miserable, she was relatively quiet and withdrawn, and although they helped her concentrate she didn’t find joy in anything. Once we officially adopted her mom and dad took her of the medications and she became a TOTALLY different person. She is without a doubt one of the most outgoing, cheerful, funny people I know. All of us kids were on these same drugs at one time or another and seeing the way that they affected has brought me to the conclusion that, no it isn’t ethical to be giving the children these drugs. The only reason that they put us on the drugs was to make it easier and more convenient for the people taking care of us.