The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses
Preface to the 3rd Edition (2007)
In 1970, when Ritalin prescription use was around 200,000, our country was alarmed enough that a subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations of the United States Congress held hearings entitled "Federal Involvement in the use of Behavioral Modification Drugs on Grammar School Children." In 1971, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classified Ritalin (methylphenidate) and other amphetamines as Schedule II drugs of the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a category that indicates significant risk of abuse and limited medical value. Despite these apparent concerns and safeguards, the explosion in use of psychiatric drugs with children in this country has been phenomenal.
Let me just give you here the story of the last 5 years of the millennium. Sacramento Bee journalist Dorsey Griffith, in her June 23, 2002 article, "Pills or Patience," reported data on the number of times psychiatric drugs were prescribed or refilled for children under 18 during hospital or doctor visits in the years 1995-96 and the year 2000. Regarding stimulant drugs, there was an increase of 84%, from a little under 2,887,000 to 5,316,000.
To our added disgrace as a nation, we are also drugging our children in huge numbers with other toxic and dangerous psychiatric drugs. Griffith reveals that there has been a 166% increase in prescriptions for the so-called antidepressants, from 1,414,000 to 3,160,000 in that same five-year period.
You are probably aware of the recent storm of media and regulatory body activity flowing from revelation that the drug industry and the FDA had suppressed data showing that the so-called SSRI antidepressants caused troubling central nervous system states in a percentage of people who take them, and that these states tended to create or exacerbate violent thoughts and feelings, sometimes resulting in suicide or homicide. We know these drugs are very dangerous. In Great Britain, they are now effectively banned for children. Under great pressure from activists, especially parents whose children had committed suicide under the effects of the SSRIs, our own FDA agreed to put a very serious black box warning on these drug labels. This trend to drug more and more of our children and teenagers with these dangerous serotonergic substances is deeply troubling, especially when one faces the fact that the fastest growing segment of users are age 0-5!
The same trends are there for the so-called sedative-hypnotics and anti-anxiety drugs. I was especially shocked to see a 281% increase, from 329,000 to 1,253,000 for the antipsychotic drugs. These drugs like Thorazine, Haldol and Zyprexa are known to consistently produce permanent neurological dysfunction in those who take them. (See Robert Whitaker's new book, Mad in America, for the latest powerful wakeup call on the sordid tale of systematic brain damage for the sake of profit.) The bottom line is that we are giving stronger and stronger psychiatric drugs to more and more children. Even infants and toddlers are being drugged with these substances.
Based on this available data, a realistic estimate is that over 9,000,000 school-age children in the United States are on powerful psychiatric drugs today. That amounts to about 15% of our young people. Other than our neighbor Canada, no other countries in the world are using psychiatric drugs this way with their children; it is a distinctly North American phenomenon.
Even the most ardent Ritalin/ADHD enthusiasts find absolutely no positive long-term outcomes on anything in their research reviews. Short-term, there is only one-conformity in the classroom. The human brain is awesome, its intricacy and complexity beyond our ability to fathom. No drug improves its function; all psychiatric drugs work by producing brain malfunction. Ritalin, like other stimulant drugs, works by turning curiosity, exploration and socializing (expansive attention) into isolated, repetitive, stereotypical behavior (narrowing of attention). This has been demonstrated repeatedly in animals.
Psychiatry's deliberate lies and misinformation in perpetrating the unnecessary drugging of millions of our children are only part of this story of the betrayal of our nation's children and families. The government plays a critical role in this perpetration by funding dangerous, life-threatening drug research on our children for "treatment" of these fictitious diseases, primarily through the National Institute of Mental Health. The government also covers up our nation's failure to meet our children's needs by actively spreading the propaganda lie that we have all these "mentally ill" children who need the right drugs to control their biologically or genetically based diseases, failing to accept the truth that no science supports this claim.
It gets worse than even this gross malfeasance. The government, through its public schools, through its courts, and through its so-called child protective services agencies, creates, promotes and allows the deliberate coercion of parents to drug their children.
School personnel routinely pressure parents to consider psychiatric drugs for their children. The courts enforce psychiatric orders to drug children.
Today, it has gotten so bad that parents who resist psychiatric orders to drug their children are accused of medical negligence and threatened with loss of custody. Doing the right thing in defense of their children has actually caused parents in our country to have their children taken away by the state. What is behind all this? And what happens to the children whom the state steps in to protect?
An incredibly high percentage of children who have become wards of the state are placed on psychiatric drugs. Analysis of Medicaid data on foster children for November 2003, obtained from the state Comptroller, show that over 2/3 of these children are on psychotropic drugs; about half of them are on stimulants, about 15% on the so-called antidepressants. I have confronted this again and again over the years so I am not too easily shocked, but I have to tell you that I was really shaken when I saw that about 17% of these kids were on the antipsychotic, neuroleptic drugs. As mentioned above, it is a very tragic, but very true statement that we are inflicting permanent neurological brain damage on these children. One more extremely troubling piece from this data: a very large number (869 in the private child placing agencies alone) are victims of what we call polypharmacy, the practice of giving children multiple psychotropic drugs at the same time.
These pharmaceutical trends in foster care are true across the country. The general outcomes are equally sad. An Editorial Board Special Report of The San Francisco Chronicle ("No Refuge," 11 September 2005) presented the following foster-care children facts:
· Nearly a third will become homeless at some time within the first year after they leave the system at age 18.
· Fewer than 10 percent enroll in college and 1 percent actually graduate.
· 50 percent will become unemployed.
· 25 percent will become incarcerated within the first 2 years after they leave the system.
· One-third will be on public assistance shortly after aging out [i.e., leaving the system].
Today, we are controlling millions of our young people with toxic drugs. It is scary that it is so effective and so well-sanctioned by our society. I see it as modern, institutionalized child abuse on a massive scale. This book is for parents and other adults who know that our children deserve so much more.