As an adult, Drugs are technically designed to treat, cure or prevent disease. The challenge is that drugs aren’t laser beams. They’re more like shot guns.
Instead of exclusively targeting of the disease or condition, drugs can have residual impact that are commonly referred to as “side-effects” or “contraindications.” Because each individual is unique, there’s no way to know how a drug will affect someone until they actually take it. Side effects can be so severe that they actually create a bigger problem than the one you want to treat.
Children are especially at risk of side effects, not just physically, but developmentally as well. In the case of ADD/ADHD, the drugs don’t cure the condition; they simply treat the symptoms.
As a parent, you need to ask yourself if giving your ADD/ADHD child drugs is the appropriate solution.
Drugs commonly prescribed to treat ADD or ADHD
ADD/ADHD drugs are stimulants. They are generally assigned to one of these three classes:
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Metadate, Concerta, Daytrana)
- Amphetamine (Adderall)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat)
There is a non-stimulate drug called atomoxetine (Strattera), however it is reported to have more severe side effects than its stimulant-based cousins.
Known Side Effects of ADD/AHDH Drugs
Side effects generally appear as:
- Decreased appetite
- Emotional ‘flatness’ or lacking emotion
- Muscle tics (sudden, repetitive, uncontrollable movements)
In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an order that all pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market drugs for the treatment of ADD/ADHD prepare a “Patient Medication Guide” to alert patients to possible heart and psychiatric problems as a result of taking ADD/ADHD drugs. In extreme situations, some children and teens taking Add/ADHD drugs report feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.
The Addictive Nature of ADD/ADHD Drugs
The medical and psychiatric communities are currently at odds about whether children who take ADD/ADHD drugs over extended periods of time are at risk of becoming addicted to these and other drugs.
It’s believed that if the drug is taken under the careful supervision of a doctor that abuse and addiction are less likely. However it is also known that stimulants are highly addictive because of their basic action: releasing more dopamine (the pleasure neurotransmitter).
Whether used to enhance performance (such as studying for final exams) or for recreational purposes (to get high), excessive use of stimulants can lead to:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Decreased appetite
- Insomnia or sleeplessness
- Feelings of hostility or paranoia
- Cardiovascular complications
People who suffer from ADD/ADHD have options in managing their condition. There are many recognized natural treatments that can help manage symptoms, which also helps the patient better cope with daily life:
- Behavioral Therapy-parents and children both benefit from participating in behavioral therapy such as Interactive Metronome Training for children, and parenting-skills classes for parents.
- Create a routine-children with ADD/ADHD benefit from a rigid schedule that let them know what’s expected of them and when. For instance, when they will be at school, when they will do homework, when they will do chores, when they can play with friends. Create a schedule and stick to it.
- Minimize exposure to television-The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 2 years old, and no more than 2 hours a day for children older than 2 years old. While the link between watching television and ADD/ADHD is unclear, it is known that helping children develop attention skills can be achieved through activities such as puzzles, games, reading out loud, or using building blocks.
Other alternatives include:
- Mental stimulation
- Listening to or participating in music
- Time outdoors
Minimize intake of processed sugars and processed carbs. Eliminate exposure to food additives such as artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives. Essentially, eliminate any processed food from the diet.
Put your child on a regular eating schedule. Three meals a day may not be enough. The diet may need to be supplemented with healthy snacks in between meals to prevent spikes in blood sugar and adrenaline levels.
Add fiber to the diet through leafy greens, vegetables, steel-cut oatmeal, berries and whole grains.
Feed them good, live, high frequency, and nutritious foods and beverages and you will see a difference in their health and behavior. Spend that extra money for your children.
So don’t be so strict on them pertaining to sweets. Simply purchase the better candies (found at health food stores) and let them know it’s not the average candy that everybody else consumes, but made with better ingredients.
Purchase plant-based ice creams made from rice, almonds, coconut, or soy (last resort choice) instead ice-cream. These too (non-dairy frozen desserts) are found at health food stores.