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Tuesday 7th June 2011
The effect of drugs used to treat children with behavioural issues must be re-evaluated, according to psychologists.
It is not fully known how a child's development could be affected by the use of medication for conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it was revealed.
The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) is urging the government to re-examine the use of strong psychotropic drugs and undertake more research.
This follows concerns that such drugs are being used as a 'quick fix' to treat young children.
The call came as a Channel 4 News investigation found that children under six years of age are being 'chemically coshed' with drugs after being diagnosed with conditions like ADHD.
The investigation, due to be aired on Monday, found a massive increase in the amount of ADHD medicine being prescribed in Britain.
The investigation also claims that drugs are increasingly being prescribed to children aged under six, which is against manufacturers' guidelines, and those issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
AEP General Secretary, Kate Fallon, said: "There is a danger that we rely on the 'quick fix' for children with conditions such as ADHD, which frequently means the prescription of medication such as Ritalin instead of a number of other possible interventions."
In a statement, the AEP said: "The Association of Educational Psychologists considers that a national review into the use of psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, on school-aged children in the UK is urgently needed."
Copyright Press Association 2011Home
Highlighting the need for alternatives to psychotropic drugs in the treatment of ADHD
June 14th, 2011
Many thousands of children in Britain are being routinely prescribed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder drugs such as Ritalin. A staggering 389,000 prescriptions for ADHD medications were handed out by doctors in 2005; since then, these figures have nearly doubled. Furthermore, children under the age of six are being prescribed these stimulants against the guidelines issued both by the manufacturers and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), as reported in a recent article on Channel-4 news.
Kate Fallon, General Secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP), said: “We are calling for an urgent national review of the use of psychotropic drugs, like Ritalin, and how they are being used, because we are concerned about the long-term effects on children’s brains.”
The majority of prescriptions for ADHD work to ease symptoms, which include inability to concentrate, hyperactivity and impulsivity. However, whilst these drugs can be effective in many cases, it must also be emphasised they are not positive in all, and the side effects experienced by the user can have serious, even devastating consequences. Darren Hucknall’s son Harry hanged himself last year when he was just 10 years old, having been prescribed Prozac for depression and Ritalin for ADHD. Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Hucknall explained how his son had “managed OK” before being put on the drugs, and when questioning his doctor about the need for such powerful drugs at such a young age was told that Harry had “a chemical imbalance in his brain.” While the coroner said that it was difficult to know whether the drugs had contributed to Harry’s death, he strongly queried the ethics of such practice.
A similar approach to a diagnosis of ADHD came across overwhelmingly in the film, with information on alternative treatment options and dietary advice given to the parents of these children almost nonexistent. N.H., from the West Midlands, stated that his son was first prescribed a psychotropic drug when he was five, without any offer of counselling or therapy before he was given the drugs, which again is against all national guidelines.