I watched an episode of 20/20 the other night that shocked, saddened, and angered me simultaneously. Children are being prescribed an array of mind-altering drugs, some of them taking up to 13 medications at a time. Children in foster care, who have already dealt with enough pain and troubles in their short lives, are medicated psychotropic drugs 13 times more than other children. These medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and stimulants. The doses prescribed to these children are usually higher than what the FDA approves, and enough studies have not been conducted on the effects of these drugs. This sickens me. It is natural for kids in foster care to be upset, confused or hurt; this is no reason to prescribe them with multiple medications each time they seem to be 'misbehaving.' There was an instance in the episode that talked about a 7-year-old boy whose behavior and mood changed drastically after taking heavy medications. He ended up locking himself in a bathroom and committed suicide by hanging himself from the shower head. How does a 7-year-old even go about that, how does he even contemplate suicide?
If you watch the segments from the episode you will clearly see that the children did not like being on the medications. They say that they felt heavy, lethargic, zombie-like, easily aggravated, and the list goes on. I am no doctor, but it seems like this is common sense-- young children should not be prescribed all of these drugs that alter their brain chemistry. What makes those doctors think it is acceptable to give so many heavy medications to little kids? How does that seem healthy or safe? It certainly seems that the medications are prescribed for another reason, a reason that works for the health care system, but not the children. We won't get in to that now.
The investigation shows a doctor who admits that he only spent a mere five minutes with a child before prescribing him a psychotropic drug. Seriously, five minutes? How can a person diagnose someone and figure out exactly what is going on in their brain, in that short amount of time? I'll answer that--they cannot. The doctors who barely take any time to truly figure out what is going on with a child, and instead start writing prescription after prescription, disgust me. You are harming a CHILD. There has got to be another way to treat these troubled kids, and I believe therapy is one of them.
The kids that are in the episode talk about how much better life is now that they are off the medications. They feel physically better, happier, free. They need to go to therapy and talk about the issues they are having in order to get through them. They need to be surrounded by people that care about them and love them. They most certainly do not need to be taking multiple medications at a time, wasting their precious childhood in a drug-induced haze.
Click to watch the whole episode: