I have talked about drugs and alcohol, and some of the warning signs. The next most common issue I see with boys is the overuse of ADD or ADHD medications.
Before I dive in and give you my expert opinion, I want to be clear that I am fully aware in some cases ADD/ADHD medications are helpful.
Overuse of Medications
I believe overall that medications are overused when it comes to treating behavior problems. I have worked with 2000+ boys in my practice. Typically with behaviors associated with ADD and 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.
Symptoms Versus Behavior
Remember, medications treat symptoms, not the behavior. I see many young boys who are having problems at school; many times the school counselor will suggest the parents talk to the boy’s doctor. Most likely the 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.
If you go to the doctor with a problem he or she will look for a medical solution. Most of the time that solution is in the form of a pill, not the doctors fault, that’s what you went for…a solution! There are cases when medication is the best solution.
Consider Your Options
I’m asking you to consider that medication may not be the best option for your son. Did you know ADHD medication only works in about 50% of cases? Have you considered these common side effects:
- stunted growth and development
Then there are the risks associated with taking these drugs for an extended period of time. Psychosis and liver damage are a possibility.
So by now you may be thinking “well then what am I supposed to do?” Perfect! Here’s exactly what I would suggest.
- consider the doctor’s diagnosis as one piece of the puzzle
- before starting your son on the medication, ask his doctor or psychiatrist to refer you to a therapist in your area who specializes in working with boys like yours, and explore non-medical solutions
- enroll your son in a group program like The Quest Project® where he’ll have a chance to actively work through his issues and channel his energy
I see parents desperate to get their son help so I know this is more than likely NOT what you want to hear. My intent is to challenge you to consider other options first so you can get to the root of the behavior or issue, not mask it. At some point, your boy will have to deal with it, why not now. Now is his best time developmentally (Identity vs Confusion Stage of Development) to help him avoid future messes.
What’s your experience with ADD or ADHD medications for your child? Has it been successful?