Are We Over-Medicating Kids Because of One Questionable Study

drugsTwenty years ago, more than a dozen leaders in child psychiatry received $11 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to study an important question facing families with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Is the best long-term treatment medication, behavioral therapy or both?

The widely publicized result was not only that medication like Ritalin or Adderall trounced behavioral therapy, but also that combining the two did little beyond what medication could do alone. The finding has become a pillar of pharmaceutical companies’ campaigns to market A.D.H.D. drugs, and is used by insurance companies and school systems to argue against therapies that are usually more expensive than pills.

But in retrospect, even some authors of the study — widely considered the most influential study ever on A.D.H.D. — worry that the results oversold the benefits of drugs, discouraging important home- and school-focused therapy and ultimately distorting the debate over the most effective (and cost-effective) treatments.

New York Times. Bill Gardner comments.

Comments (10)

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  1. Vicki says:


  2. JD says:

    This is to be expected. If it sounds too good, it probably is.

  3. Dewaine says:

    Not to mention, do we really know what the latent effects of overmedication are? I’m not anti-medicine, but overusing anything is bad.

  4. Dewaine says:

    I have a feeling that we are going to look back on all of this just like we do with lobotomies. At the time they were medically sound, but now we know the effects on a person.