DRUGS are being “handed out like sweeties” to youngsters which could leave Britain with a “generation of drugged *children”, experts warn.
A million prescriptions for behaviour-altering Ritalin are written every year for children as young as three for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
An estimated 400,000 children now take the drug but experts fear parents of over-excitable children are often looking for a “‘quick fix” rather than addressing the underlying causes. Claiming a child has a “disorder” can also reduce the stigma when simple bad behaviour is to blame, they say.
Prescriptions for Ritalin, an amphetamine-like stimulant which has the same effect as “speed” and cocaine, have soared from 92,079 to 929,839 since 1997. Of these an estimated 90 per cent of items have been dispensed to children.
This massive growth comes despite potentially worrying side effects, including suicidal thoughts, aggression psychosis, stress and anxiety, cardiovascular complaints, low appetite, stomach problems, dizziness, tics, skin problems and bruising.
Tory MP Matthew Offord uncovered the figures which show the drug costs the taxpayer almost £50million a year.
We now have a generation of children who are dependent on this drug yet we don’t know what the long-term effects will be,” Dr Offord told the Sunday Express.
“It seems to me the behaviour of children has not changed or deteriorated so much in the last 15 years that it warrants a 1,000 per cent rise in prescriptions.
“I can only conclude it is being over-prescribed by doctors who are not looking at alternative treatment options, which may be more long-term but may actually present a better option.”
The British Psychological Society began investigating the use of the drug amid fears that funding cuts for recommended ADHD treatments, such as counselling, have led to over–reliance on medication.
Its report is due to be published in July. Conservative MP Andrew Percy, a former teacher who sits on the influential Health Committee, said: “It seems to be more and more normal to prescribe these kinds of drugs for our children rather than looking to address the underlying causes of the problem.
“We need some oversight into why these prescriptions have increased by almost 1,000 per cent and why these powerful drugs appear to be being handed out like sweeties.
“When I was a teacher I used to see a small number of parents who were desperate for a diagnosis for their children and a quick fix rather than looking at more difficult long-term *solutions.”
Last week Professor Sir Simon Wessely, new head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said there was a growing trend of medicating normal traits in children at the insistence of overbearing parents.
He added: “Certain behaviours carry stigma and there’s less stigma if it’s associated with a disorder.”
By: Caroline Wheeler
Published: Sun, June 29, 2014
The Newhawks Crew
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