By Evelyn Pringle
Campbell Brown anchors a daily prime-time news program on CNN. On June 17, 2009, in a segment of the program called the “Great Debate,” the question was, Ritalin, Prozac, Adderall, are we “pushing pills on our kids and raising a generation hooked on meds.”
Featured in the debate were, Kelly O’Meara, author of the book, “Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Mental Illness and Pushes Pills that Kill,” and Dr Charles Sophy, a psychiatrist in private practice in Los Angeles, who serves as medical director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services. They were each given 30 seconds for an opening statement.
“It’s a two-part problem,” O’Meara explained.
“It’s the diagnosis itself that’s not based in science or medicine,” she pointed out. “There is no objective test that you can give children or adults to prove that you actually have some sort of psychiatric abnormality.”
“And the second part, of course, is the drugging,” she said, “the prescription drugs that are doled out to treat these so-called disorders.”
“I would say that we’re at epidemic levels,” O’Meara stated. “And it’s been going on for a long time.”
Sophy then responded with his opening remarks.
“I would say that I think it’s very important to understand that these are really true symptoms that these children are — are suffering from,” he said.
“Whether they are attached to a true disorder is an issue that maybe can be a debate for science,” he continued.
“However,” he said, “there’s a lot of research behind those disorders.”
“And, remember,” Sophy added, “the medications are used to treat symptoms, to get them out of the way, so those children and those families can benefit from other treatments that will last them lifelong time.”
“Well, I would argue,” O’Meara said, “that the FDA, when they looked at all the clinical trial data for all of the psychotropic drugs, the SSRIs, what they found was that patients did just as well on a placebo as they did on the drug.”
She pointed out that ADHD drugs are stimulants in the category of a Schedule-2 drug.
“The government considers that one of the most serious drugs you can take,” she stated. “It’s up there with morphine, heroin, cocaine.”
“The DEA has said that methylphenidate is equal to cocaine in its effect,” O’Meara said. “So when a parent decides to give their child a psychotropic drug or Ritalin, which is a stimulant, they have to understand, this is the closest thing that we have to cocaine.”
During the debate, CNN viewers were given a number at the bottom of the TV screen to call in their opinions and vote. Of the people who called in, eighty-one percent agreed that we are pushing pills to our kids, and 19 percent disagreed.
According to Dr Grace Jackson, author of “Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs,” and the new book, “Drug-Induced Dementia: a perfect crime,”almost all of the psychiatric drugs either sensitize the brain to other addictions, such as benzos cross-sensitizing to alcohol or stimulants cross-sensitizing to cocaine, or become addictive substances on their own.
For most patients, she says, the use of psychiatric medications ultimately fulfills four of the seven DSM criteria for drug dependence: (1) tolerance; (2) withdrawal; (3) larger amounts consumed, or longer use than intended; and (4) continued substance use despite knowledge of having a persistent problem which is due to that substance.
First, the use of all psychiatric medications is commonly accompanied by habituation or “tolerance,” she reports.
As the brain adapts to the presence of drug treatment, the efficacy of the initial dosing dissipates. It is for this reason that almost all patients return to their doctors, only to have their doses increased over time, she says.
Second, the interruption or cessation of psychoactive drugs almost always results in withdrawal or rebound symptoms such as insomnia, headache, irritability, diarrhea, tingling, and tiredness, Dr Jackson explains.
Third, many patients find that they are unable to tolerate these withdrawal symptoms and this results in chronic or maintenance therapy which lasts much longer than originally intended, she notes.
Fourth, patients find themselves continuing the drugs despite the fact that the treatments are the cause of significant suffering and disability such as impaired judgment when driving, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, or impulsivity, she reports.