“It’s Too Hard to Modify a Kid’s Environment—Let’s Just Give the Kid Amphetamines”

adhd childrenSome doctors are now prescribing long-term ADHD medications to low-income kids who don’t have ADHD—simply to boost academic performance.

One physician, Dr. Michael Anderson of Canton, Georgia, calls ADHD a “made up” disorder, “an excuse” for doctors to prescribe Adderall to treat poor academic performance in inadequate schools. According to a disturbing article in the New York Times, increasing numbers of doctors are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in low-income areas—even though the child may not have ADHD—because the drugs are thought to help the kids achieve higher grades.
Adderall may seem to help kids improve their grades. It is in the class of drugs called amphetamines which are also called “speed.” But they are also highly dangerous and controlled substances with recognized side effects including growth suppression, increased blood pressure, and in some cases psychotic episodes: seeing people and hearing voices that are not there, and feeling suicidal.
If a child has real, not phony, ADHD or ADD, better, more natural alternatives exist to treat it. There’s also a promising new treatment to add to the list: neurofeedback training.
Even when doctor and patient reject a more natural approach and want to use a drug, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Human beings have important differences, and not just the obvious ones of age or gender; differences which are currently ignored in drug research.
For example, SSRIs and the smoking cessation drug Champix have been linked to suicides or violence—results which could reflect genetic variations that make the drugs metabolize poorly. Consider this:

  • The primary metabolism of many drugs is governed by cytochrome P450 (CYP), a group of enzymes in many tissues including the intestines and liver. If someone is lacking one of these CYP enzymes, they may be unable to detoxify their body from SSRIs and other drugs, leading to psychotic episodes.
  • Other people are deficient in glutathione (or may be lacking a glutathione gene altogether), the molecule that helps detoxify the body, acts as an antioxidant, and strengthens the immune system.
  • Other genetic variations affect drug transporters and receptors.

In other words, no medication should be given to all patients as a kind of panacea—least of all children with their growing brains and immune systems. Drugs should always be carefully tailored to an individual’s specific needs.


  1. Sirs,
    When I was a child, there were no ADHD or ADD labels to put on children. Do we really need to stuff our children with drugs, when we could just work with them on other levels? No that takes too much time or effort. It is easier to label them, stuff them with a pill, and move on. What else can be done to guide our children to make them wholesome adults.

  2. “Yes Meredith, I’ve sent an elephant to h***. Science stuff, you wouldn’t understand.”
    —Dr. Z, Bino the Elephant
    CHILDREN, Subclinical or Marginal Symptoms of a Vitamin Deficiency:
    Late Teething, Dry Skin, Hyperactivity, Poor Growth, Muscle Cramps, Tiredness, Irritability (see ADD, ADHD below) Hair Loss, Frequent Colds, Flu and Respiratory Infections, Vision Problems, Weakness, and Weight Loss, Dry Eyes, Scaling of the Skin, Abdominal Pain, Edema, Weakness, Insomnia, May begin to lose their voice, Nose Bleeds, Frequent Infections, and Illness. Also ADD and ADHD Behavors including Irritability, Inattention, Impulsiveness, Hyperactivity, Temper Tantrums, and other Inappropriate Behaviors.
    -Yahoo! Contributor Network, By Yahoo! Contributor Network, Team Mom, Content by Sylvie Branch. Apr 10, 2012 11:11 AM EDT
    -Compact Medical Guides -Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants and Children by Steven Rothrock, MD, FACEP, FAAP on September 23, 2011
    -Medscape Reference -Vitamin A Deficiency by George Ansstas, MD; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD
    -Pediatrician OnCall – Nutrition in Children
    – Boys diagnosed with ADHD had lower levels of the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition), Purdue University 1994
    – Arnold LE, DiSilvestro RA (2005). “Zinc in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder”. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology 15 (4): 619–27. doi:10.1089/cap.2005.15.619. PMID 16190793.
    -Antalis C, Stevens L, Campbell M, Pazdro R, Ericson K, Burgess J (2006). “Omega-3 fatty acid status in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder”. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 75 (4-5): 299–308. doi:10.1016/j.plefa.2006.07.004. PMID 16962757. Doc Blake

    1. Thank you Dr. Blake for your research and post of helpful nutrients; good info to forward to my discussion groups. I follow information from the late Dr. Abram Hoffer too in this regard.
      To add to that I suggest to people that they reduce carbohydrate intake for several well known reasons, to increase dietary inulin for its prebiotic effect, which will reduce toxin production in the gut, and use undenatured whey and selenium for glutathione increase to better detoxify the individual.
      I agree with the writer that medicating kids deserves caution, and that’s usually what they get, at least here in Canada, before they are prescribed amphetamines, and I also agree that when the orthomolecular molecule is available, and I point out that it does not exclude speed or selegiline, it is undeniably a good match for the individual.
      Duncan Crow

  3. How sad? Our American allopathic way of medicine seems to be regressing constantly. I really wish that allopathic doctors here in America would be open minded enough to share their views and see what other medical practitioners around the world would do to remedy these problems.

  4. ADHD is as much of a condition of the gut as a condition of the brain. Help these children to heal their guts and digestive tracts. Cut out glutenous grains and dairy and a lot of the ADHD will be gone. Add vitamin supplements made of whole foods and some at a way higher level than the RDA (way too low across the board), Send these kids to a nutritionist who will teach these kids and their families how to get better through nutrition as opposed to an MD who will prescribe drugs.

  5. I’ve never believed that ADD/ADHD was anything more than a label assigned to a group of people/children who display behaviors that are not tolerated in classrooms or the workplace. There is no scientific basis for most ” disorders” or ‘ syndromes”. Use commonsense for goodness sake. I was one of the first teachers to work with children diagnosed as ADD back in the early 80’s. I didn’t believe even then that these children had any disorder. They were bright, inquisitive, creative and they simply needed a different , more challenging learning environment. The public school system is not modeled for anyone who is a creative and independent thinker. Is it any wonder that America has lost it’s innovation? Ever wonder why most television amounts to nothing more than a ‘ reality show’? The SOL model of teaching was supposed to guarantee that all children received a proper education and this works if you’re a cow and not a bright, energetic, full of passion for learning and questioning child. I’m a Biologist and I can tell you that even the new generations of scientists today lack necessary critical thinking skills. I would have definitely been labeled ADD and I’m sure some folks would want to label me as just that even today. Fortunately, I grew up during a time that questions were welcomed, when teachers had the freedom to explore topics in greater depth and the freedom to encourage a child to discover their abilities beyond the typical curriculum
    Stifling a child’s learning passion for anything is a form of oppression that works well for the status quo ( parents who are over-worked, teachers who are forced to adhere to SOL teaching models) and for bureaucrats but it has long term detrimental effects that we see in virtually every aspect of our culture today.

  6. I agree that there is more labeling of children and their behavior than in the past, this works for either lazy or overworked teachers and parents to keep the kids quiet AND more drugs prescribed – bigger profits for pharmaceutical companies and those who invest in them And a polluted water supply to boot.
    There are plenty of other things out there that contribute to our ill health: bioengineering (GMO’s) of some “mono cultures – corn, soybeans, canola, cotton – to name a few. What do you think happens to the pesticide that remains in the RoundupReady corn, soy, canola ? I believe what Americans have been eating as “food” over the past 20 years – at least – is not really healthy for living things.
    Monsanto owns 90% of the soybean seed. 70% of American “food” has soy in it Go read your labels folks Genetic Roulette is a new documentary out about the health effects of GMO’s and the politics of it too. Go watch it – it is being offered online – free.
    Thanks to this site and to all that you do.

    1. I completely agree Donna with everything you wrote. However, I’m still not convinced that any of those bad foods contribute to what we label as ‘ attention deficit’. Granted, eating a sugar-laden lunch contributes to a child’s short term hyperactivity and drowsiness. I do believe that vaccines play a significant role in the excessive allergies that children have that can certainly alter their behavior. Any one of us would be less attentive with a chronic headache, stuffy nose, poor nutrition, etc..
      Can you imagine if Albert Einstein had attended American schools as child today and how he would have been drugged? Can you imagine all that would have been lost by losing JUST him and yet, Einstein was an eccentric nut who had an elevator in a one story house. What about Da Vinci the inventor who could visualize things that had never before been seen- especially in 3-D? The artist Buckley Moss has dyslexia and she knows all too well that many dyslexics are very high achievers who are labeled as ADD, medicated and lost forever. My husband is a very high achieving dyslexic but he can’t even tie his shoe laces without struggling and he’s almost 50 years old! Others who ‘failed’ in the school system that had ingenious minds…Richard Branson, Robin Williams, Peter Jennings, Mozart ( was told he was stupid and wouldn’t amount to anything), F Scott Fitzgerald who wrote the Great Gatsby was a school failure and the schools punished him, expelled him and abandoned him simply because he would not conform. Thank goodness NONE of these fine folks conformed or our world would be a very dull place.
      “Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure”…..Thomas Edison ( stupid, dunce)

  7. I was one of those ‘remedial’ students in elementary school… just about the time I was getting braces and mercury fillings hmmm… on it went through high school where I didn’t give a crap about what was being taught (but just enough to not catch hell from the parents) cause it didn’t seem to have any correlation to my existence. Flash forward to college and well ‘whatta ya know’ once I found something that could relate to my perceived reality in relation to being a contributing member of society – I became a ‘model student’. Was even on the dean’s list for computer information systems. A real geek and would not have known it given my previous scholastic attempts. Seeing things from my vantage point, it appears that not enough is done to relate in real terms, to these ‘different’ children, the value and validity of the information being used to evaluate those that may just have an atypical biological structure. Notwithstanding the social distortion created from labeling and subjugating such impressionable minds that somehow for some reason they are not quite as ‘normal’, which I can attest took me way too far into my adult years to overcome. A huge thanks to Jiddu Krishnamurti for ‘Freedom From The Known’.

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