Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Pharmacist Speaks Out

Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
May 18, 2006 Thursday
By: Suzy Cohen, a registered pharmacist, syndicated writer for the Tribune Media Services

Dear Pharmacist: My 8-year-old son just started medicine for ADHD. My husband disagrees with his taking the medicine; he says our son is "all boy" and that I can't handle him. But the doctor prescribed the medicine, I didn't force it. His teachers recommended it. Do you think I should continue? --
L.D., Fort Lauderdale

Dear L.D.: As a mother myself, I understand the emotional pain you must feel about a child who isn't faring well. The controversy surrounding ADHD and its treatments creates agony for many families.

You husband sees his rambunctious son as "all boy" and his concern has merit -- you shouldn't medicate a child who is merely distracted or fidgety. Impulsive dispositions need to be differentiated from human tornadoes who recklessly run into streets.

ADHD isn't completely understood, so it can't be cured, just treated. Parents struggle because diagnosis is subjective; there are no blood tests or MRIs to make a diagnosis conclusive. Controversy shrouds ADHD and its possible connection to everyday toxins, lead paint, food allergies, immunizations containing mercury, genetics and chemical imbalances.

Most prescribed medications for ADHD are amphetamine stimulants. In normal adults, they act like uppers, but in kids with ADHD, they slow the brain down. Popular ones include Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall, Dextroamphetamine and Concerta.

Amphetamines can speed heart rate, raise blood pressure, cause stomach aches, dizziness, insomnia and eye wiggling. Long-term use may cause agitation and hostility. ADHD drugs reduce appetite, which, by the way, can stunt growth, according to a new study presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.

Toxic side effects occur more often in kids than adults. The question isn't: Should I treat my child? Rather, it is: What natural or pharmaceutical
options should I use to help my child feel better with little or no risk?

Generally speaking, Americans have been indoctrinated into taking heavily advertised drugs dispensed like candy, deemed by the FDA as "safe and effective" until one day ... guess what? They are no longer deemed safe and effective. I fear this will happen with some ADHD drugs.

This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Always consult your physician. Suzy Cohen is a registered
pharmacist. For more information or to contact her, visit www.dearpharmacist.com

(Note: The above advice also appeared in Newsday (New York), May 16, 2006, The Times Union (Albany, New York), May 16, 2006,
Tulsa World (Oklahoma), May 13, 2006).

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