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Are ADHD drugs safe for your kids?

Last week the Toronto Star came out with an article on ADHD drugs and the blanket statement the that they are killing our kids and our Government/Health Canada is hiding the evidence from us.
A friend on facebook posted the link and a conversation occurred where I made all the points I think that were important about how such a biased article from the Star was socially dangerous.
Here below is the conversation pointing out the flaws of the Star article, and a link to a much more even based article/rebuttal by Dr Kenny, an Ontario ADHD doctor who writes for the Huffington Post.

Friend: Yay science.... The all knowing, all powerful science as championed by the all knowing masses of the internet, professionals in child development, doctors and other idiots who are actually in support of $cience rather than science brings us good behaviour in a freaking pill.

Gooooo freakingn $cience!

"Strokes. Convulsions. Hallucinations. Depression. Suicide. All serious side effects suffered by Canadian children as young as 6 taking drugs that treat ADHD. All side effects doctors aren’t required to report. A Star investigation finds this voluntary reporting system is leaving Canadian paren..."

 

ME: this is a lopsided article in The Star and has been being discussed at length among the ADHD professional community and the Canadian Mental Health community for the last week or more.

If everyone keeps thinking ADHD medications only give us "good behaviour" and minimizes the good they do for the people who NEED them and use them...we will not advance at all in learning how to best cope and manage with a very real genetic and hereditary neurologically based disorder.

If you are going to read that article, at least read this one too and take into consideration the info in it. As a person in the ADHD community who coaches adults with ADHD and a person with it myself, as well as my daughter...this Star Article does nothing to dispel the widely believed myths of ADHD, and in fact only increases the myths, fear, and bullying kids with ADHD go through for being different and having a genetic disorder that they can't help.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-kenny-handelman/adhd_b_1925852.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Friend:that is a much better written article. I don't know what to say when the Huffpo covers science better than the Star. One of the major problems with the Star article is it kept throwing numbers at you without any kind of context. What are the suicide rates among unmedicated ADHD diagnoses? It kept mixing negative outcomes to the point where it seemed to conflate any negative outcome. Having suicidal thoughts is clearly something that needs to be monitored but it's not the same as actually committing suicide.

 

ME: Exactly! The issue with the Star article is it fails to point out that ALL drug companies for ALL medications are legally bound to report any negative side effects annually or every 6 months anyway, not just ADHD drugs. It also fails to point out that those records are confidential with medical records and names and that Health Canada never releases the findings to the public. They do it to monitor all medications in case they see a trend of negative effects so they can make warnings, do research, recall a medication. If you searched the same way and wrote this article about diabetes and insulin pills, or erectile dysfunction and Viagra....you would find the same negative reports of side effects and no one is writing articles about that or screaming about that like they are due to this Star article.

As I understand it, the deaths that occur of a person WHILE on certain medication are also always reported, with full medical records, it does not matter how the person died. SO If I died tomorrow of slipping on the soap in the shower and bled out in the tub...simply because I take Concerta for my ADHD, my medical records and death would be reported to the drug company as a death of a person on their drug. I would be padding those very stats the Star is trying to claim are serious issues. Though, truth be told- I'm far more likely to fall and slip on the soap in the shower if I DON'T take my Concerta and get distracted while rinsing off! lol

Also note, they are talking about children all through the article, and not mentioning the percentage of children or adults in those numbers. ADHD is not a child disorder only. When you have ADHD you have it for life, kinda like brown or red hair, it's a genetic. ADHD is a neurological wiring from birth. Yes, environmental issues and brain injuries can cause ADHD like issues that can also be treated well with adhd meds, but ADHD in children from young ages onward is not from eating hot dogs or hormone laced milk or lead paint, or bad parenting...it is genetic. Scientifically proven. FACT.

The Star did not find out how those people died, or the ages of the people who did. So they write a fear mongering article and used half truths strung together in a way that makes it seem credible. And hey if it is in the newspaper, is MUST be true right?

I'm not saying that there has not likely been deaths as a direct link to an ADHD med, I'm saying WE as the public, and the Star do not know the details, therefore using it as evidence that ADHD meds are dangerous and scaring people is very irresponsible. Stopping a medication, ANY medication cold turkey can have drastic health affects and some parents were reading this article and thinking they should just stop the medication right away becasue they heard words like "DEATH HEART ATTACK and STROKE"

We need to take into considerations that people with ADHD very often also have learning disabilities,depressions and anxiety as a co-morbid diagnosis, and those things all come with risks of low self esteem, suicidal thoughts and attempts, drug and alcohol abuse, poorer health over all due to ending up in lower income brackets due to inabilities to get proper educations and a skill and then get and or keep well paying jobs. All of which automatically lowers life expectancy from manual labour, poorer nutrition, poor living conditions possibly, as well as causing them to lived stressed lives, which also increases risk of heart attack and stroke etc etc etc. there re WAY TO MANY variables here for the star to be poorly shooting off numbers ad making any claims at all, and blaming Health Canada for hiding the "truth"

ADHD is unfortunately under diagnosed AND misdiagnosed/over diagnosed at the same time. It causes a back and forth issue. Often people with it seeking a diagnosis and help from the medications have a hard time getting it, because of the wave of over/misdiagnosis in prior years, causing doctor to become very leery to even consider the diagnosis (insurance liability). This is predominantly because the medication needed for treatment is a stimulant,"legal speed" so to speak and can be abused by non ADHD people with drug addictions/habits.

My ADHD medication has a street value of like $5 to $10 a pill depending on where you go in the country. I have to show ID and sign papers every time I go to pick up my medication and I can't even get it 3 days in advance of running out for my refills unless it is specifically prescribed that way by my doctor, because they monitor it so closely.It is a pain in the butt for me since I live rural and only go into town where my pharmacy is like twice a month. Half the time I cannot get it in refills from my pharmacy unless I call a week in advance to remind them I need the medication, because they only order controlled meds like narcotic pain meds and stimulants like ADHD meds as needed, to ensure people won't break in and rob the pharmacy for the pills.

Yes, I agree with your sentiment that there are teachers to quickly slap the ADHD label on kids who exhibit disruptive behaviour in classes. They are trying to keep a class of 20 to 30 kids in line and actually teach them something and if 4 of them have ADHD-that can be tricky, and ADHD meds do settle the hyperactivity ADHD kids present.  ( don't get me started on classrooms being a terrible environment for ADHD kids to learn)

Because of those issues...teachers see a hyperactive kid and make a suggestion to the parents, that maybe they have ADHD, and recommend they get them checked and some ADHD medication, because they see the difference in little johnny and jane, and they have ADHD and were really hyper too. When the Paretn goes off to he family GP, and the parents and teachers are given a survey to fill out when a child is being assessed for ADHD. Sometimes this is ALL the assessment that is done for a child suspected of ADHD.

Teachers do not understand WHY a kid is hyper, just that the kid IS hyper, and the ADHD assessment questionnaire is basically built to answer yes to all generalized symptoms of ADHD on it......then general practitioners use that questionnaire to dx ADHD and start ADHD med prescripts...this is scary IMO. Any child suspected of ADHD should be being seen by specialists, but that is a LONG wait list, or expensive out of pocket assessment and hard to get into, and schools pressure parents to medicate to keep the kid from being disruptive, while parents listen to teachers because we place authority onto them since they work with kids. We assume they know what they are talking about.

ADHD is the most known and named neurological issue in kids these days that the general population is aware of and thinks they know. They think they know and understand how it presents, and are grossly missinformed. So I am sure there is DEFINITELY kids on ADHD drugs who are not ADHD. I'd bet my pants I'm wearing on that. and THAT is NOT good.  Not good for THEM and not good for kids who really have ADHD and need help.

The problem with teachers being given questionnaires and Doctor's going on that and the parents testimony, is that other things can look like ADHD at first glance. So many kids have been dxed wrong with ADHD, and are not in fact ADHD-but possibly high functioning autistic/aspergers with executive functioning difficulties, which is the area of brain functioning that is most problematic for people with ADHD.

There is SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) which is a nervous system disorder or CAPD ( Central Auditory Processing Disorder), which all have a hyperactive components to them, and can look very much like ADHD.

Just because it walks like a duck, and sounds kinda like a duck, everyone glances and says, "Oh look, a duck!" but they are just seeing a bird. Because, although in the same bird family, we are talking duck and geese and swans....they all have wings, and eat bread crumbs and swim with webbed feet. So, based on the similarities, people start treating a goose and a swan like a duck and then find that the geese and swans do not respond well to the duck treatments, and then try to say that it must be that ducks don't really exist, or that the treatments are dangerous for all birds, or that ducks are just ugly, lazy swans and geese. ( probably poor analogy, but I think i made my point)

this gross overlooking of the actual neurological issues over time as the child grows and changes causes kids with other issues to be treated for ADHD and it never was in the first place,causes negative or ineffective treatments on the medications, and then it causes the doubt of ADHD as a real legitimate disorder at all.

It creates this ADHD bashing the media so likes to do, like the Star did in this article, creating fear and panic among it's readers.

The number of  ADHD doctors and coaches I've talked to in the last week on Twitter who have had that article brought to their attention from terrified parents is OUTSTANDING and really neglectful IMO on the Star's part.

But, they don't think about that. It sold papers, and news needs to be sensational for people to read it. The only GOOD thing it did was allow people in the ADHD community to speak out and hopefully educated and dispel some myths and fears of the general population. I've been sent and asked to comment on that article over 40 times in this last week in emails and facebook messages and tweets, and I have even had it clipped and given to me in person, or mentioned to me by 4 different local people who know I work with ADHD families, and that I myself have ADHD as well as my daughter.

 

Sorry such a long post...hope you managed to read it all.  for further information on ADHD and other neurologically based health issues please check out the following reputable websites

 

Dr. Kenny Handleman

Oakville, Ontario, Canada · http://www.drkenny.com  and http://www.addadhdblog.com/ 

Dr. Ned Hallowell is a child and adult psychiatrist, a NY Times bestselling author, a world-renowned speaker, and a leading authority in the field of ADHD. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane Medical School and a faculty member at Harvard Medical School for more than 20 years. http://www.drhallowell.com/

http://www.caddac.ca Center for ADHD Awareness Canada

http://www.ldac-acta.ca/ Learning Disabilities Association of Canada

http://www.spdcanada.org/   Sensory Processing Disorder Canada Foundation

http://www.ementalhealth.ca/Canada/Auditory-Processing-Disorders-APD/index.php?m=article&ID=8900    MentalHEalth.ca info about CAPD and how it can mimic ADHD.

I am @superADDmom on Twitter. if you have any questions you can find me there, or email me at superaddmom at the gmail email services.

 

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