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Importance of Psychoactive Drugs in Managing ADHD

More and more children have been diagnosed with ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This is a condition that usually presents itself during childhood years, and is characterized by a consistent string of inattention and hyperactivity, with forgetfulness, poor impulse control and distractability. According to a recent survey by the University at Buffalo, about five percent of children in classrooms have students with ADHD and another five percent have ADHD but are undiagnosed. In dealing with this kind of disorder, those children with ADHD are placed on psychoactive medications by their family physician, generally upon initial recommendation by officials from the child's school. Some experts on ADHD treatment, however, believe that there are other effective alternatives to medication. Some doctors and professionals involved in the treatement of ADHD field overemphasizes the role that psychoactive medications play in the treatment of these children.

Many parents are not fully aware of the well-established, evidence-based alternative in taking psychoactive medications, which is behavior therapy. Most of the physicians normally prescribe such psychoactive medications routinely to children without discussing first the benefits and risks of these drugs and its alternatives with the parents. Moreover, research has shown that those children with ADHD who were started on behavioral therapy, half of them did not need any medication at all. Rather than prescribing such medications at an early age, physicians should be recommending a sequential course to parents: behavior therapy first, and then the prescription of medications if needed later on. Such information was supported by a survey of parents, in which 80 percent of them would choose behavioral therapy than medication therapy as the initial treatment of ADHD, if only they had been aware of the benefits of behavioral therapy in the first place.

According to Pelham, such medications for ADHD children is not bad, although it needs to be used in moderation. By taking in low doses and combining behavioral therapy when needed, these psychoactive medications are considered as a useful intervention for ADHD children. With the use of behavioral therapy, children, teachers and parents can learn different skills and techniques in order to improve the child's behavior in his daily life. The main focus for this type of therapy is on academic performance in school, relationships with peers and siblings, relationship with parents, failure in obeying adult requests, and skills development in important areas. This can also reflect good parenting because of their interaction (behavior modification) with their child, better than just popping a psychoactive drug into the child's brain. With children receiving less medication, they would be less susceptible to side effects that go with the drugs such as stunting of growth and loss of appetite. This could also produce long-term benefits for ADHD children, like teaching them behavior and coping skills that they would eventually carry out into adulthood. When children with treatment medications become adults, they tend to refuse in taking their medication. As a result, the benefits of the said medication goes away, and it would be much harder to teach behavioral skills to adolescents than with younger children.


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