Thesis: While diagnosing a child with ADHD and prescribing him with medication is not necessarily a bad thing, it is important to be frugal when administering ADHD medications such as Adderall, as these medications are frequently abused and have many negative side effects.
I. Adderall and other ADHD stimulants are frequently abused, both to get high and to improve test performance, which can lead to toxic overdose and death.
A. Up to 35% of college students have admitted to using these drugs without a prescription (Connor).
1. These students can purchase the drug for as low as six dollars a pill, making it an extremely cheap and easy to obtain stimulant. (Hom).
B. Abuse of nonprescribed stimulants can have effects similar to speed or cocaine, and lead to dependency, psychosis, and even death (Hom).
1. Many think that because these drugs are prescription pills, unlike cocaine or speed, that they will be less dangerous. This isn’t true. When these drugs are snorted or injected they can be equally as dangerous as cocaine or other stimulants (Hom).
2. This is a key reason doctors should be extremely careful as to whom they prescribe these drugs to; they can be deceptively dangerous in the wrong hands.
II. These prescription drugs can have many negative and unexpected side effects in children; no long-term research has been done on their effect on child development.
A. Some side effects include: sleep issues, unexpected weight loss, seizures, and the development of other mental disorders, such as depression and psychosis (Hom).
1. These medications are not overtly dangerous to patients. However, the lack of research into the long-term research is disconcerting.
B. The American Academy of Neurology now warns against prescribing medication to children who may not have the disorder, as their brains are still developing (Shute).
1. By refraining from prescriptions for “fringe” cases, doctors are able to prevent more children from suffering unknown long-term side effects.
2. Refraining from prescribing medication may also lead to more cases such as that of David Neeleman, who used his ADHD to his advantage and made millions (Lewis).
III. (Refutation) While some would argue that it is vital that all children diagnosed with ADHD should receive medication, one must realize that the long-term effects of these drugs are largely unknown. It would be safer to try alternative methods of treatment.
A. Simply changing a child’s diet by introducing omega-3, zinc, and iron supplements improves symptoms in many children (Newmark and Koplewicz).
B. No significant scientific studies have been carried out on the 15, 10, or even 5-year effects of these stimulants on the brain of a child (Newmark and Koplewicz).
Problems of Overdiagnosis and Overprescribing in ADHD (Psychiatric Times)
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