In regards to ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, authors Samuel H. Zuvekas, PhD, of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, located in Rockville, MD, and Benedetto Vitiello, M.D., of the National Institution of Mental Health, located in Bethesda, MD., offers an astounding view of their 12 year perspective on the various stimulant medication use in children (Zuvekas & Vitiello; American Journal of Psychology, (2008). Both Zuvekas and Vitiello monitored the way that treatment for ADHD in children from ages 6 to 12 were administered from 1996 to 2008. This 12 year study provides a data analysis that displays details of how stimulant use in individuals that were 18 and younger is steadily rising; in 2008, medications (stimulants for the purpose of treating ADHD), data indicates that more children 18 and younger, were used 3.5% compared with 2.4% during the year 1996.
This significant increase shown in the data of the study by Zuvekas and Vitiello appears to be right on point. In today’s society, there are approximately 6.4 million children that are diagnosed as having ADHD, which is an increase of 16% compared to the data for 2007, and a 53% increase compared to 2003, and this has become quite alarming, especially for behavioral specialist, medical physicians, and other individuals in health-related arenas, offers Tracy Miller of the New York Daily News, referencing updated data that was released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Miller, 2013). Miller also shared details from that same report that described how there is at least 1 in 5 high school boys, and 11% of all school-aged children in the United States diagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and about 2/3 of these children are prescribed various stimulants that include Adderall and Ritalin according to the displayed data from the report released by the CDCP.
Children and adolescents being diagnosed with ADHD occurs more often nowadays, and as individuals with ADHD begin to enter adulthood, many of them may continue to have ADHD issues; I believe that I have encountered many relatives and other individuals that may be ADHD as adults, and some of these same individuals may never have been diagnosed or treated for ADHD while they were growing up. Zuvekas and Vitiello contends that stimulant medications can work well for controlling the symptoms of ADHD, but there are other ways available for treating this condition, such as behavioral therapy; in referring to many experts, Vitiello states that there are approximately 60% children diagnosed with ADHD that are treated with medication (Zuvekas and Vitiello, (2008). Zuvekas and Vitiello claimed that although the use of prescribed medicine (stimulants) by children with ADHD in the age range of 6-12 was considered as the highest, (4.1% in 1996 to 5.1 % in 2008, and it displays evidence that ADHD continues to exist in children as they grow older, the fastest growth rate of prescribed use occurred between the ages of 13-18 year-olds, up from 2.3% in 1996 to 4.9% in 2008.
Zuvekas and Vitiello contends that since the data reflect a continuous low prescription use rate for preschoolers, which is approximately 1.0%, from 2004 that decreased between 2002 and 2008, the researchers suggest that prescribing stimulants to this age group is and continues to be disfavored (Zuvekas and Vitiello, 2008). In addition, Zuvekas and Vitiello claim that compared to girls, boys are 3 times likely to be prescribed stimulants over girls when it comes to treating ADHD, and that stimulants are often used by White/Caucasian children on a much higher level than Black children, and that 2.1% of Hispanic children are prescribed stimulants for ADHD. However, according to Zuvekas and Vitiello, an increase in stimulant use appears to be growing more among the racial and ethnic minorities, which may be due to more recognition and acceptance of psycho-pharmacological treatment regarding these groups. Zuvekas and Vitiello also made reference to how the rates of increase in stimulant use of children with ADHD are significantly lower in the western part of the nation, with no recent increase lately, in comparison to the northeastern part of the nation the increase in the northeastern states were 2.7% in 2002 to 4.6% in 2008; the difference in the prescribed stimulant use is based on the racial and ethnic background, and geographical areas that indicate some variability in how families and doctors approach disorder the ADHD in areas throughout the nation (Zuvekas and Vitiello, 2008).
In conclusion regarding their findings, Zuvekas and Vitiello contends that in making comparisons between the rates of prescribed stimulant use with an estimated prevalence of an ADHD diagnosis, the data shows that a great number of children with ADHD are not being treated with stimulants (Zuvekas and Vitiello, 2008). Furthermore, Zuvekas and Vitiello claim that it is more likely that there more chances of children who possess the most severe symptoms regarding ADHD are actually taking stimulants to control the disorder; the children that possess milder symptoms are more likely being treated by other methods, such as psycho-social treatments or with other types of non-stimulant medications. In reflecting back on this article, I agree with most of the findings, with the exception of how Zuvekas and Vitiello claimed that more children from the White/Caucasian groups have the highest percentage use of stimulant medications, but I have seen many cases where, regardless of the ethnic or racial backgrounds of children, ADHD treatment by more and more physicians has increased and the prescription of stimulant use has also increased.
I taught in the special needs arena from 2000 to 2004, and the majority of my students were on stimulant medications that I had to administer to them during classroom meetings, as did other teachers that I have known who lived in various locations nationwide. I also see more and more cases of children being diagnosed with ADHD, and lately, with Asperger syndrome and bi-polar disorders, and I agree with Zuvekas and Vitiello, when they mentioned how ADHD is not limited to one ethnic or racial group, for neither is Asperger syndrome or Bi-polar disorder, but that more boys are being diagnosed and in many cases, treated with stimulants. The detailed information presented in this study is not at all shocking to me, for it only confirms information that I have either read about, or situations that I have witnessed personally. However alarming the information may be to various individuals, I do not foresee any significant changes occurring that will reflect a decrease in stimulant use, but I do foresee an ongoing increase in the use of stimulant medications. In my opinion, I believe that more focus should be placed on physicians and behavioral specialists offering more non-stimulant prescriptions combined with more behavioral therapy for children with ADHD and other disorders.
Miller, T. (April 1, 2013). ADHD diagnosis in U.S. children rise 53% in the past decade, CDC data show. New York Daily News, p.1. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/adhd-diagnoses-jump-53-decade-cdc-article-1.1304626 Zuvekas, S. H., Vitiello, B. (2008). Stimulant medication use in children: a 12-year perspective. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169,160-166. 2012.