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Examining The Use of Stimulants to Treat ADHD

Examining The Use of Stimulants to Treat ADHD

Many argue that the use of stimulants to treat ADHD harms children more than it benefits them. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes that about 5% of American children, or 1 in 20, are diagnosed with ADHD. There are a large set of advocates for investigating alternative methods to address ADHD to create less of an impact on the brain’s neurochemistry, especially for developing children and teenagers.

Issues such as overprescription and the arbitrary determination of an individual’s ability to hold their attention by medical professionals have received scrutiny. The above article published in the Wall Street Journal provides arguments from professionals on opposite sides of the fence, with some arguing that immaturity and impulsiveness is difficult to distinguish from actual ADHD in children.

The prevalence of the use of stimulants such as Adderall or its derivatives such as Vyvanse towards the treatment of ADHD and similar disorders relating to attention deficits or an inability to concentrate represents a complex and controversial issue receiving a fair degree of limelight in the media as well as in the academic community.

Understanding ADHD More Fully

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a frequently mentioned term that many misunderstand because of the apparently straightforward description of the acronym. But in order to make meaningful headway into describing if stimulants produce benefits for those impacted by ADHD, ensuring that our definitions of ADHD are consistent is important.

An overview published by Greydanus, Pratt, and Patel (2007) gives us the basic sketch of the disorder: “ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder with abnormalities in various neurotransmitter systems, including noradrenergic, serotonergic, and dopaminergic. There are various degrees of attention dysfunction, impulsivity, and hyperactivity that interfere with day-to-day functioning.

An important thing to note is that there is a neurobiological and genetic basis for the expression of these behaviors that Greydanus et al. (2007) identifies in their research. Specifically, the summary points out neurotransmitter dysfunction or deficiency in the CNS region and names dopamine transporter dysfunction as one of the keys to the underlying etiology of ADHD.

A Brief Overview of Evidence

So, do prescribed treatments that impact that central nervous system (CNS) have medicinal properties? Further, are their liabilities associated with the interference of a child’s developmental processes and their ability to learn the necessary skills to function in society past their academic achievement? Should we be concerned about the ethical implications associated with prescribing children stimulants?

These are all questions and qualms that parents with children potentially impacted by ADHD may hold when it concerns seeking out the best possible mix of treatments to ensure that their child or children can live a happy, successful life as an adult in the future. Fortunately, a number of studies have been published delineating the benefits and the demerits of using stimulants as it concerns different populations of individuals.

For instance, it is a frequent point in the scientific literature that those with genuine deficits in attention great enough to impede the functioning of their day-to-day lives benefit from the use of stimulants on a controlled basis.

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