The Fake ADHD Epidemic

adhd black children how drugs african american mommy blog discipline spankingCredit: Fillmore Photography

I’ve never really bought into the idea that ADHD was as prevalent as the media made it seem because it just didn’t seem plausible that American children would be more afflicted with this order than kids from other parts of the world. For instance, only .5% of French children are diagnosed and medicated ADHD compared to 15% of American children. For a while most of the stories in the mainstream media only discussed the rise in the ADHD diagnoses not the challenges to the diagnosis that mostly came from crunch granola types. However, there seems to be an uptick in the number of articles that are challenging whether there is an ADHD “epidemic”.

In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Keith Connors, the psychologist who identified the symptoms we now know as ADHD, blasted the handling of the disorder. He feels that there is no “epidemic” and that the correct diagnostic rate of  ADHD should be 5% not the current 15% of high school students. The article seemed to suggest that there has been a sort of collusion between doctors, who legitimated the prescribing of ADHD medication to children, and the pharmaceutical companies. Here is a synopsis of the article:

  • Scientists estimate that real ADHD affects around 5% of children, but the CDC says that 15% of high schoolers have been diagnosed, and the number of children on ADHD drugs has risen from 600,000 in 1990 to 3.5 million today. So what’s driving the diagnoses?
  • Millions are spent on ads, some targeted directly at children or parents, saying that ADHD drugs like Adderall will improve performance in school and even inspire kids to take out the garbage. The FDA has repeatedly told drug companies to withdraw such ads, and one company, Shire, agreed this year to pay $57.5 million in fines for improper advertising and sales of drugs.
  • Drug companies also target parents through sources that seem independent, like teachers and support groups. Two parents near Seattle put their child on Ritalin for 3 years because teachers—who had received materials from the drug company Ciba—pushed them into it. “I definitely felt seduced and enticed,” said the father. “I’d say baited.”
  • You’ll hear that ADHD is a lifelong condition, but at least some doctors who say so are on Big Pharma’s payroll. And studies show that about half of ADHD kids don’t have the disorder as adults. Meanwhile, drug companies are successfully targeting the adult ADHD market.

Although black children are diagnosed for ADHD at a lower rate than white children, we still have to be vigilant. Whenever the white establishment pushes back in these types of situations, companies tend to move on to greener pastures and in this case, it would be our kids. As a black parent, that means you need to do your research and exhaust ALL your options before accepting an ADHD diagnosis for your child. Drugging a young brain must always be a last resort.

I would really like to hear from parents who are dealing with this issue. Please leave your feedback or tips in the comments and feel free to share this post on social media.

3 thoughts on “The Fake ADHD Epidemic

  1. I have been hesitant to blog about this weeks hot button topic because there is so much information that feel biased when I read it. I have ADHD and have worked with several black and Latino children at the elementary through to the college level. As a child I was able to compensate for my limitations so drug treatment was not a consideration. However, recently my symptoms began to pose challenges that my earlier tricks and tools could not accommodate for. Some of these problems were negatively affecting my family and my personal relationships. This is when ADHD became a “Disorder” for me and when drug treatment became an option. I don’t feel like my standing for or against the use and misuse of stimulant medication will do anybody any good. But I will say that those with ADHD or who suspect that they may have it should find a good doctor and have a thorough evaluation done before considering if drugs are right for them. The resent negativity surrounding ADHD and drug treatment concerns me because when legitimate searches for information keep hitting articles like you’ve discussed, it could hinder the progress toward someone seeking help. The members of the African American community already struggle to seek help for any form of mental illness due to the stigma. I fear that the desire to keep America informed may in fact perpetuate the stigmas that we are trying hard to break away from.

    • I really appreciated hearing your perspective @savvyadhdsista. Just to be clear, the article isn’t claiming that ADHD doesn’t exist but that it’s epidemic status is overblown.

      • Thanks so much. I’m glad women in our community are talking about it. I understand that this article speaks to the overblown” statistics. However, there are several articles that say there is an under-diagnosis and that I can attest to personally being that I was undiagnosed as a child and only found out about my own ADHD by working in the field. My main point was the fact that there have been so many articles sharing the new information that it could have a negative affect on someone new to diagnosis with little knowledge at all. Unfortunately black and brown cultures haven’t had the best track record with pharmaceuticals and mental health issues so any strong opinions to confirm our long time suspicions about ” the Man” and his drugs are more easily accepted than an introduction to a treatment plan that will help you manage your symptoms so you can function in the way We have structured this society… I don’t want to ramble so I will stop there. I hope that we encourage our communities to get the facts from several sources. Most importantly find that best-fit doctor because that will make a hell of a difference. Night night sis 🙂

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