Do Nearly 20% of All American Youths Really Have ADHD?


One in five American boys and adolescents are living with ADHD, or so their doctors have told them. Do 20% of all American boys really have a behavioral disorder? Or are physicians being lazy with their diagnoses? In the story "The Drugging of the American Boy" featured in Esquire magazine, the author paints a grim picture of young boys given powerful stimulant drugs with serious side effects just for being, well, boys.

Boys as young as four and five are being prescribed drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta, which are Schedule II drugs. To put that into perspective, cocaine and methamphetamines are also Schedule II drugs. ADHD drug manufacturers themselves disclose that these substances can cause side effects like heart problems, bipolar disorder, hostility, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis.

Doctors hand out ADHD diagnoses almost as readily as they prescribe painkillers. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began its first attempt to tally ADHD diagnoses in 1997, it found that approximately three percent of school-aged children in the United States had been told by a doctor they had ADHD. Today, that number has increased dramatically to around one in five, or 20%.

Out of this 20% of children and young adults diagnosed with ADHD, two thirds of them are on some type of prescription drug. Many of these prescriptions are handed out by doctors with little to no training in psychiatric disorders, which is a large part of the problem. It doesn't seem to be a problem for ADHD drug manufacturers though, because their profits over the past four years have increased 89%.

Koffel Brininger Nesbitt represents many individuals who have found themselves caught up in the criminal justice system for drugs or some other type of criminal activity that can be traced back to their prescription drug use as a child or young adult. ADHD stimulants can cause serious side effects like psychosis and suicidal thoughts that can, in turn, increase the likelihood of that child using drugs or acting out in other ways later on in life.

For more on this topic, read " The Drugging of the American Boy" in Esquire.