Parenting Sons: What You Need to Know About ADD & ADHD Medications
About a year ago I wrote about the diagnosis of ADD and ADHD, a “label” I see far too often in my practice. I continue to see even more problems and concerns with boys being prescribed these medications.
Does He Really Need ADD or ADHD Medications?
Overall ADD/ADHD medications are overused, and commonly prescribed to treat behavior problems. I know because I have worked with 2000+ boys in my practice. Typically, with the behaviors associated with ADD/ADHD there are underlying issues. Some of those issues range from depression to PTSD to an unstable environment. What I’ve also learned in my practice is once the cause is treated, and more importantly dealt with, the symptoms often disappear- without the use of ADD/ADHD medicine.
A great example of the misuse of medicine became apparent in a recent conversation I had with a young man who was attending The Quest Project®. He is taking Adderall, which is prescribed to treat symptoms of ADD/ADHD, he told me he had increased his dosage in order to “help” him wake up in the morning! After further discussion with his parents it became apparent that the real problem here was he wasn’t getting to bed at a decent hour. Why? “Because he has been staying up late on his electronic devices.” per his parents.
This Is Important Information!
Parent’s, don’t just take it from me! There is new research, read this article. On a school night (Sun-Thurs), if your son is playing video games or on his computer it takes a minimum of 1+ hours to “wind down” from that stimulation. He needs 7-8 hours’ sleep and an hour off his devices before hitting the sack; on average that means he should be off the computer or games by:
- 8:00 p.m. if he’s 11-13 years of age
- 9:00 p.m. if he’s 14-16 years of age
- 10:00 p.m. at the latest if older
He doesn’t need medications to “help” wake him up, he needs boundaries and limits!
Parenting Is Hard Work
I see many young boys who are having problems at school and/or at home; many times the school counselor will suggest the parents talk to the boy’s doctor. Remember this, medications treat symptoms not behavior. ADD/ADHD is not a disease, it is a diagnosis resulting from exhibiting characteristics that allow a professional counselor or MD to receive third party payments (i.e. insurance payments). A doctor will make a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD and you’ll be off to the pharmacy with a prescription. Your hope is it will be the “magic bullet” that will fix everything. I am stating that you need to consider counseling first, before putting your child on medication.
Sadly, I’m hearing boys talking about their medications as if it’s normal.
Lastly, consider this. A doctor or psychiatrist is doing you a disservice if they do not recommend counseling when they do diagnose ADD/ADHD and simply prescribe medication only! And most importantly, if your son is prescribed a medication you are administering it, not him! In other words, make sure it’s being used for the purpose intended, not as an aide to “wake up!”
Do you/have you had an experience you’d like to share? Are there any questions you would like to ask? If so, please stop by my Facebook page.