There are LOADS of myths surrounding ADD/ADHD medications – I thought I’d just examine the most common ones.
Myth 1: Once your kid starts taking the medications he will be fine.
FACT: There is no treatment available that cures ADD/ADHD. All that the medication does is to manage symptoms. Medication is not the sole treatment for ADD/ADHD – it needs to work in conjunction with behaviour modification therapies, diet, exercise etc.
Myth 2: Kids who are treated with stimulant medication will become addicted to it and are more likely to abuse other drugs.
FACT: There is no evidence to support that children treated with stimulants are more likely to abuse other substances. In fact, it appears that children with ADHD who are treated with stimulants are actually less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol in adolescence. This is directly related to the fact that they are able to better “fit into” their environment which means that they won’t continuously be told how awful/rubbish/useless/stupid they are which directly influences their self-esteem which in turn means that they won’t look for affirmation in the wrong places or self-medicate to make themselves feel better. There is a person in my family who is addicted to aspirin – this person has NEVER been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD (I honestly don’t believe that she has it) and has NEVER EVER been on any form of stimulant. Yet. She has an addiction.
Myth 3: Stimulant medication works by changing your child’s personality and turning him/her into a “zombie”.
FACT: Some kids do become sluggish and withdrawn when on medication – these symptoms generally indicate that the dose is too high, or that there is possibly a co-morbid condition such as a mood problem that has not yet been identified. There are many studies that show an increase in positive social behaviour in kids treated with stimulants – this would definitely not have been the case if it was turning them into “zombies”. A person taking the correct dosage will better be able to “filter out” distractions and stimulant medication can assist the patient with managing their behaviour and attention. It definitely doesn’t “force” them to behave in a certain way.
Myth 4: Medication is used as a “quick fix” by parents and teachers too lazy to do their jobs.
FACT: I won’t deny that there probably are parents and teachers like this – there are always bad apples. Having said that, I can guarantee you that for most parents, the decision to introduce medication into their childs treatment plan is a very difficult one and is not a decision that is made lightly. A lot goes into getting a proper diagnosis and there is generally much trial and error and experiments before it gets to this point. As I mentioned in a previous post, ONLY a Dr can prescribe medication, teachers cannot “diagnose” a child OR “insist” that a parent needs to medicate their child.
Any kind of medication has side-effects that may or may not affect your kids so if they are experiencing things like severe appetite loss or insomnia or ANYTHING that is not usual then PLEASE speak to your Dr. They are qualified to help with your concerns and actually they are paid good money for this. Sometimes the solution is really simple (a matter of giving the dosage a very slight tweak) and sometimes it may mean that they simply cannot take the medication (it can happen that the meds are simply not good for them) and so an alternate plan needs to be made.
There are way more myths than I mention in this post, these are just the most common ones that I can think of at this moment. Tomorrow I will do a post about my ADD/ADHD boy and our school journey.