For years, our government has been trying to frighten us with the thought of terrorists under our bed. Well, here is something that frightens me much more. The thought of little kids huddling behind the elementary school, taking hits off asthma inhalers and trading pain medications they have secretly brought from home.
What is this all about? And when did it become accepted wisdom that in order to make it through elementary school, kids have to be on Prozac or Ritalin or Zoloft? Newsweek a few years ago said that something like eleven million children were on some kind of mood-altering medication. Now there is new evidence that even the kids who aren’t on medication are taking other people’s drugs.
And that scares me. I am now about to risk becoming a boring old you-know-what, but I distinctly remember being in a working-class elementary school 45 years ago. That was a time when nobody was on anything, except one little girl who was a diabetic and took insulin.
The rest of us were horrified that she had to get shots every day, and nobody ever dreamed of asking for a hit of her insulin. And as far as I know, most of my unmedicated generation got though childhood in one piece. Later, of course, all of us had the usual adolescent traumas. I was a child then and am not a physician now, but I really don’t think we’d have been better off on mood-altering drugs.
Nowadays, however, we’re living in a world filled with parents who think another pill is the answer for everything, Small wonder, then, that their children have gotten the same idea.
The University of Michigan's Carol Boyd has been studying how kids abuse prescription drugs. She has found that nearly one-quarter of girls and one out of every ten boys admitted to using prescription pain medications prescribed for someone else.
Television broadcasts a steady stream of public service announcements designed to convince kids that illegal street drugs are bad. The kids get that. But they told Professor Boyd’s researchers that they weren’t worried because they were taking prescription drugs. Naturally, they have no idea what a proper dose might be or the way drugs interact with each other, or what happened to Marilyn Monroe.
What we know, thanks to Carol Boyd, is that the kids who take Mommy’s pills are eight times more likely than other kids to use other illicit drugs. The fact is, we are now in fact a nation of enablers raising a generation of junkies. Our primary excuse is a term invented by the American Psychiatric Association back in 1987: “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” ADHD has made the pharmaceutical industry very rich. But just think about what it is doing to the rest of us.