ADHD drugs—no long term efficacy but definite long-term risks

Again tired and I’ve been writing all morning in correspondence with a new friend so I’m posting this without comment.

You guys leave the commentary. I actually have a lot of thoughts, so they may come out in comments if someone gets them going.

Article on a recent study on drugs and ADHD in The Washington Post:

The latest data paint a very different picture than the study’s positive initial results, reported in 1999.

One principal scientist in the study, psychologist William Pelham, said that the most obvious interpretation of the data is that the medications are useful in the short term but ineffective over longer periods but added that his colleagues had repeatedly sought to explain away evidence that challenged the long-term usefulness of medication. When their explanations failed to hold up, they reached for new ones, Pelham said.

“The stance the group took in the first paper was so strong that the people are embarrassed to say they were wrong and we led the whole field astray,” said Pelham, of the State University of New York at Buffalo. Pelham said the drugs, including Adderall and Concerta, are among the medications most frequently prescribed for American children, adding: “If 5 percent of families in the country are giving a medication to their children, and they don’t realize it does not have long-term benefits but might have long-term risks, why should they not be told?” (read the rest here)

6 thoughts on “ADHD drugs—no long term efficacy but definite long-term risks

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  1. One more thought: I see a lot of people, who, more or less fiercely, defend their “ADHD”-dx. Why do people sometimes almost beg to be given a psych-label? IMO, because the system succeeded in making them believe that their quality of life depends on being a good consumer. Psych-labels, just as the drugs, that come along with them, are consumer goods.

  2. Back in the late 60ies, early 70ies, when I was a kid, these things still got described in a far more understandable way, as simply “hyperactivity” (“ADHD”), “daydreaming” (“ADD”), “shyness” (“social anxiety”), etc., and no kid got drugged for this kind of behavior.

    I had a classmate in elementary school, who was “hyperactive”. That is, today she’d clearly qualify for an “ADHD”-dx and be put on drugs. – One classmate, btw. Today, half of my classmates would probably be labelled “ADHD”/”ADD”, me myself included. – She made it through high school, college, and graduated from university. Without ever being officially labelled or drugged.

    This is one side of the story.

    The other is that, yesterday, I read about an 8-year-old Norwegian boy, who was killed by his stepfather back in 2005, after two years of continuous mistreatment/battering. Repeatedly he’d shown up at school with bruises, once he had to be hospitalized with severe injuries. No one reacted. Because at age 6, when his mother got divorced from his biological father, he’d been given an “ADHD”-dx – because he, strangely enough (???), after a very good start at school, had started to have concentration problems and fits of anger -, and as we all know, these kids’ behavior often causes them to get involved in accidents. His mother and stepfather even succeeded in explaining his injuries away as possibly caused by self-injury: there’s nothing, these alleged neurological disorders can’t explain away, is there?!

    For a vast majority (also… ) of kids with an “ADHD”-label it is true, that they are victims of one or the other kind of abuse/mistreatment. It doesn’t need to be the extremely violent kind of abuse/mistreatment, the Norwegian boy experienced. On the other end of the scale, we have the subtle, invisible abuse/mistreatment, our society, not least the educational system itself, practices. And whenever someone rejects to get squeezed into the mould of “normality”, whenever someone revolts against being robbed of their true nature, and being transformed into a good producer-consumer, they are at high risk of getting labelled and drugged up, so to become docile, easily manageable for the abusers. This then is sold to us as “quality of life”.

    I’m sorry, but in my opinion, it has got nothing to do with real life. Although, it has got everything to do with society’s delusion of what “life” is.

  3. I am adhd, never diagnosed as a child. struggled thru school and always always had teachers telling me how smart i was “if you would just pay attention” …. Age 37 was when i was diagnosed and the meds helped me tremendously! However; i hate being on medication so i used the concentration the meds gave me (along with annoying side effects) to learn alternate coping methods.
    Guess what my 2cents in this would be; while meds can be effective for some, we might want to use them as the bridge to drug free coping strategies.
    peace s.

    1. Syl,
      thanks for sharing…

      I’d like to make the suggestion that you ARE NOT ADHD. You are Syl and perhaps you have troubles concentrating and you like to call it ADHD. But it is not who you are!

      best to you.

  4. As someone with ADHD, I think “does not have long-term benefits” is misleading. Almost criminally so, if such a statement is used to take their child or themselves off of something that does improve quality of life.

    Although in retrospect I had symptoms all through my childhood, because I managed to perform academically and I exploited my interests until my adulthood [as esoteric and impractical as they were], I was not diagnosed and treated until I was an adult. If I run out or forget my medication, I am no less of a person, but I am living in a fog. I would prior to being treated muddle through, constantly frustrating myself, and at many times brought myself to the point of tears, sleeplessness, and panic.

    At first, I thought I was depressed, but going through the whole psychiatrist thing, we were pleasantly surprised. The only regret was that I did not have proper and controlled treatment when I was younger. I could have done much better in school, have been less frustrated (and at times, self-loathing) with my behavior. My parents were always supportive, but in my case *I* was most aware of my own limitations and disappointed myself through childhood, high school, and even college and grad school.

    Being well regulated, I [for the most part] just need to watch my blood pressure (which is thankfully fairly low, with or without my meds) and limit my alcohol use [which is frankly almost never, these days].

    I am not sure why people are expecting “long-term benefits” in terms of the child being *fixed* 8 years out… no, it is treating the symptoms. But frankly speaking, the symptoms suck. If I was a kid and I was given the choice to take these meds and perhaps not grow as tall [only 5’10”, so it’s not like I have height to spare], and not driving myself nuts and doing better in school, I so would pick the latter.

    The logic is like someone who has clinical depression: SRIs don’t *cure* anyone over the long term — they make things more livable. There *is* a long-term difference, not because of any curative powers, but because some people who are untreated for depression may not be there for the long term. For ADHD, kids who were and were not treated are generally not much less alive, and perhaps some of the ones who took the meds didn’t grow as much as they should have, but their quality of life may be much better: more stable friendships, better self-image, better scholastic achievement, etc. by fixing what is essentially not a behavior or psychological problem but a neurological and chemical one.

    1. Hi Keith,
      you’re certainly entitled to your opinion and your personal experience cannot be argued with.

      This blog however points to the flaws that all psychotropics have and helps people learn alternative ways of healing…often permanently rather than using toxic medications for symptom control.

      most people have no clue that there are options and most psychiatrists are not aware of them…without knowledge we cannot give informed consent.


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