ADHD Kids: Behavioral Treatment or Drugs?

In an ideal world, parents would immediately answer "behavioral treatment!" to that question. In reality, that 's not how things generally go. More children than ever are taking medication to control ADHD, and experts are concerned about the outcomes. Recently, the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) published a study in about the long-term use of stimulant medication, such as Ritalin. The findings indicated that the children who continued to take the medication for the whole eight years were not reducing their symptoms any more than the children who had stopped the drugs. These results led researchers to wonder if there is any true benefit to taking the drugs for an extended period.

In a conversation with U.S. News, Dr. William Pelham, a professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo, discussed the reduced benefits of long-term ADHD medication; "Behavioral treatments are going to have much better benefit in the long term.It's true that it's harder to find than medication. But it's not true that it can't be found. Behavioral parent training is widely available... it's proven to help. School-based interventions for ADHD are also widely available... It's wrong for a doctor to say to a parent, 'This treatment is harder to find, so instead we're going to put your child on a drug that will have no long-term benefit.'"

Dr. David Rabiner, who is generally quite accepting of ADHD medication, stated, "Caution here is warranted...More data on the long term effectiveness of this form of treatment is required." He also lists possible side effects, including stomach trouble, headaches, nervousness, drowsiness, and nervous tics. On placebo use, Rabiner states that while 20-30 percent of children do not experience any significant benefits with the real drugs, many ADHD children on placebos receive reports of improvement from their teachers.

The positive impacts of ADHD drugs are all over the place - including trusted medical web site and clinics. Unfortunately, there is not much mention of the negative side effects, despite the fact that they can be very dangerous. If your family is considering the use of any stimulant medication, please be aware of the possible outcomes, and look into a behavioral treatment instead.

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