Debate on whether doctors are too eager to prescribe drugs to children

We asked people whether doctors are too eager to
prescribe drugs for children instead of considering other

To read a recent Community Care article on this

click here

These are the comments we received:

“As a mother of a son with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder) who is prescibed Ritalin I was very interested in your

My sons behaviour almost tore the family apart. He was a danger
to himself and the torrent of physical abuse he subjected his
little sister to was apalling. We were shunned as a family because
his behaviour was uncontrollably destructive and disruptive, which
added isolation to the despair. 

Once we realised that this behaviour was not just being ‘a boy’
the initial reaction of the the so-called professionals was mixed.
The health visitor gave us a lecture about it being our fault as
our son tried to climb out of a window!  The GP refered us straight
away as my son used the examination couch as a launch pad as we
tried to explain our problem. The first consultant we saw refused
to believe there was a problem and blamed the ‘dynamics’ of our
family.  How the dynamics made our son run across roads into on
coming traffic at every given opportunity I don’t know!

We were finally refered to the wonderful team at Northbrook
Health Centre, Shirley Solihull. They actually talked to my son and
really listened to us and we actually felt as if someone took us
seriously at long last. There were hours and hours of consultations
with doctors and related professionals, and my son was diagnosed
with ADHD and given appropriate medication.

Ritalin was not prescribed with out months of consultations and
my son is now not heading for a young offenders institution. Isaac
is now nine and still has a few problems, but he is a calm happy
cheeky, funny monkey which is how it should

Lynne Brown
West Midlands

I subscribe to the belief that drugs are far
too frequently prescribed for children.
My son has had juvenile idiopathic arthritis from the age of six
months (he is now six). From the moment of diagnosis (aged nine
months) he was put on a variety of drugs including corticosteroids
(oral and joint injections), cyclosporin, methotrexate, ibuprofen –
to name the ‘major’ ones.
At the age of three and a half, after a multiple joint injection,
when he was ‘only’ taking methotrexate and ibuprofen, it was
recommended that the dosages were increased. That was the beginning
of my convictions that drugs are too easily prescribed over
alternative therapies.
That summer (2000), on the advice of our nutritionist, I began
treating him with Omega 3 oils, multivitamins and minerals, vitamin
C and putting him on a relatively dairy and citrus free diet. I
also took the decision to stop the ibuprofen completely.
In early 2002, I took him to see a homeopath who began treating
him. I again took the difficult decision to stop his remaining
medication, methotrexate.
In the summer of 2002 he also began taking high potency Propolis
capsules. Currently, he takes Omega 3 and 6 oils, multivitamins and
minerals, vitamin C and Propolis. 

I can safely say that, since the summer of 2000, he has improved
dramatically, to the point where the doctors are amazed. He even
won two races on his school sports day this year! This is all due,
in my opinion, to the alternative therapies I have mentioned.
I feel I should point out that every one of these therapies has had
to be paid for out of my own pocket – no free prescriptions for
Without this regime, I fear that my son would slip back into the
pain and suffering severe arthritis causes.
To conclude, it is important to point out that all of our doctors
have been wonderful. While they didn’t recommend alternative
therapies, they fully supported my freedom of choice in this matter
and advised me of the possible problems that could arise.
It is not the individual doctors who are at fault, but the system
as a whole, which prescribes to the medical model and not social
model of promoting health. Until alternative therapies are given an
equal status within the medical world, I see little hope for
Barbara Jones

I doubt that there is any more
over-prescription of drugs for children than for
adults. Prescribing drugs without offering credible alternatives is
rife within the health service and is endemic in today’s culture of
‘pills for all’. 
There seems to be little exploration of life history/style or
events that may have impacted upon the individual and greater
emphasis upon illness or distress as the individual’s

There is also little acknowledgement of both the oppression and
stigma of medication upon those who are physically and mentally
ill, and even less acknowledgemnt of the fact that people use
medication as excuses for their poor lifestyle or low
aspirations. Children do need to be protected against this tendancy
to prescribe rather than listen to, but so do adults with special
emphasis on older people and those with mental ill

Emma Johnson
social worker in training

“Sadly yes my son who has ME/CFS presribed one of drugs – may
have been fluxotine – but we didn’t give it to him. He was later
prescibed Prozac, which he had for a month a year ago. Now we know
none of these medications really work for ME. However, therapy to
assist with self management really is in short supply. NHS Money
now available to bid for specialist regional support- will need to
be picked up by PCTs (primary care trusts). Happy to talk on this
much neglected area.

Barbara Perryman
Joint Commissioning

I read with great interest your article
‘Ritalin Nation’ about the treatment of children with
ADHD symptoms. I write from two standpoints: firstly as mother of a
14-year-old son who was diagnosed with symptoms of attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, and secondly as a homeopath at The
Health Works Complementary Health Centre in Walthamstow, east

I must disagree with Andrea Bilbow that “ADHD
doesn’t go away, it’s there for life”.  This
weekend I watched my son (with the pride only a mother with an ADHD
child would understand) putting together something complicated and
electrical that was confusing even for his father. He sat on the
floor, absorbed in concentration, calmly working out how to connect
the bits together. And he did it. Something I thought I would never
see 10 years ago when I used to lock myself in the bathroom at home
for a five minute breather from a child who never, ever sat still,
let alone had the ability to concentrate even for a short time.

He was very difficult to deal with at home and impossible to
teach at school. The family was strained to breaking point. The
parenting strategies we used successfully with our other two
children didn’t work with this child. Our GP could offer drug
therapy in the form of Ritalin, but after doing some research, I
was not happy with this option.  

My son and other members of the family had consultations with a
homeopath, nutritionist and family and individual counselling. 
After each monthly homeopathic prescription there was a gradual
improvement in our son’s behaviour and the family dynamics
slowly started to return to normal. We had ups and downs, but I
held on to the belief that our child’s future was at stake

Certainly ADHD seems to be a modern phenomenon, but the world
and society has changed dramatically even over the last 10
years. There is now more to do than anyone has time for. Television
for all children is arranged in two-minute sound bites, which is
reckoned to be the average concentration span today. Children are
exposed to more violence in computer games and on television, the
temptations of fast food and convenience food are seductive.

We have to accept that society is changing constantly and are
searching for new ways to cope, which is why people are turning to
complementary therapies in ever-increasing numbers. There are many
reasons for the successes of ‘alternative’ health care,
one of which is that one can obtain an appointment quickly, and
have at least an hour with a complementary health care
professional. Sometimes people come because they have tried
everything else and are desperate, often they have heard of
positive experiences from friends or family.

Homeopath, Flower Essences Therapist & Indian Head Massage
The Health Works Complementary Health Centre
Walthamstow, London

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