Medical experts have warned that there is an increasing tendency for doctors to prescribe drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), instead of actually talking to patients to investigate the cause of their issues.
When you take into account the fact that close to one million prescriptions for Ritalin and other ADHD drugs were dispensed, and that this is double that of a decade ago, it is clear that the figures are alarming.
Last year, there were 922,200 prescriptions for Ritalin, in 2010, 661,000 were handed out compared with 359,100 in 2004.
All too often, GPs under time constraints and who are overbooked will just rush someone out of their office, and the easiest way to do this is by giving them a prescription for drugs, instead of actually talking to them or referring them to an expert for more tests.
That is not only costly, but also time consuming and a drain on resources.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence claim that drugs should only be given out as a last resort, but these figures, which Kate Fallon, chief executive of the Association of Educational Psychologists, claim show an ‘exponential growth’, certainly suggest otherwise.
Chief executive officer of the ADHS foundation, Tony Lloyd, claimed:
The guidelines are clear that drugs should be dispensed as a last resort. But that is clearly not what is happening. They are prescribing because child mental health services are overwhelmed. There are very few services like ours.
There has been a 41% increase in the number of children under the age of 16 in just the last five years, and so the small budget for mental health services is being focused on that.
ADHA is usually diagnosed between the ages of three and seven, and the use of Ritalin for only one year is thought to reduce a child’s growth by 3/4 of an inch, not to mention there are links between the drug and self harming.