One of the major controversies regarding ADHD concerns the use of psychostimulants to treat the condition.One side of the argument contends that psychostimulants have too many side effects, a high abuse potential and only mask the problem rather than solve it. They also argue that the drug is over prescribed and that the over prescription is promoted by drug companies to boost sales. The other side contends that the drugs are extremely effective tools, especially when combined with behavioral therapy. Also they argue that side effects and abuse potential are minimal when patients medication is monitored.
One of the better-known doctors to speak out against the use of psychostimulants is Dr. Peter Breggin. Dr. Breggin, practicing psychiatrist and founder of The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, testified before US congress in September of 2000 to lecture them on the dangers of stimulant medication. He argue that the drugs are classified by the DEA as schedule II, indicating they have the highest potential for addiction and abuse. He points out that all stimulants impair growth because of their appetite suppressing and growth hormone suppressing effects, and also insinuates that they are gateway drugs, especially to cocaine and nicotine. He goes on to further point out that some patients may suffer from stimulant-induced overstimulation and are consequently medicated with other psychiatric drugs to combat the medication. This he contends leads to children on many different drugs, which may lead to bipolar disorder. He concludes in saying that the drugs dont treat the real problem, rather it suppresses the undesirable symptoms and leads to lethargic, and unimaginative children. He contends that behavioral therapy is a much better approach. He also argues that ADD/ADHD hasnt even yet proven to be a biological disorder.
On the other said are most psychologist and psychiatrists. While most today may agree that treatment by these medications alone may not be the most effective, most, if not all, state that the drugs are invaluable and part of the solution to the problem. Most empirical studies support their view. Dr. Russell Barkley, a leading ADD/ADHD expert, is quotes as saying that research shows ADHD to be a largely inherited disorder with substantial neurological underpinnings, for which medication has been an extraordinarily effective means of treatment Furthermore another, leading ADD/ADHD expert, Dr. Sam Goldstein was quoted as stating, ..there is a very solid research base concerning the immediate symptom relief offered by the stimulant medications..Nearly every study I encountered during my research, has confirmed that the best current treatment is a combination of monitored medication and behavioral therapy. In May of 01 Dr. Steven Evans, Dr. Will Pelham and Dr. Bradley Smith released the results of one of the first empirical studies of the effects of Ritalin on adolescents. The medication combined with a behavior modification program not only had positive effect on the subjects behavior, but an outstanding effect on their academic performances; scores improved on average about 17%.Another study released in January of 2000, showed monitored medication to even be superior to behavioral treatment or standard community care.
In conclusion, while I believe Dr. Breggin and those who share his views mean well, I see them approaching the problem the wrong way. Rather than trying to do away with the medications that have so far to be effective, they should rather focus their energy on bettering understanding the neurological and genetic factors of the disease and coming up with more accurate forms of diagnosis. Both sides will even agree that some doctors are too quick to prescribe the medication, I believe that only qualified psychiatrists and psychologist should be given that power, the medication should be monitored more carefully and always be accompanied by behavioral treatment.