It is remarkable how many children today use anti-psychotic drugs. Do our children really need it that early in life? Where was the need when I was growing up? Well federal health officials have launched a probe into the use of antipsychotic drugs on children in the Medicaid system. There is a growing concern that the prescription drugs are being prescribed too often to treat behavioral problems in the very young. The effort applies to a newer class of antipsychotic drugs known as “atypicals,” which include Abilify, the nation’s No. 1 prescription drug by sales and Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa.
The original anti-psychotic drugs were developed in the 1950s which include Haldol and Thorazine, which produced severe side effects such as uncontrollable muscle twitching. A new class of “atypical” drugs were then developed to treat psychoses such as schizophrenia to replace the original drugs. They have fewer severe side effects, but some now have FDA approval for treatment of children with conditions such as bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism. Medicaid, the government health program for the poor, spends more on antipsychotic prescription drugs than on any other class of prescription drugs. The number of people under age 20 receiving Medicaid-funded prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs tripled between 1999 and 2008. Hence the need to investigate if these drugs are being abused. Now if you add into the mix the side effects from these drugs such as suicidal thoughts and one has to wonder if the correct goal is in place.
Lets face it, the preference by doctors is to treat disorders with prescription drugs rather than consider other approaches, including therapy to help children and families cope with psychological trauma that could be at the root of behavior issues. One has to consider the cost for treatment. What is cheaper: a prescription pill or therapy for years? Some wonder if these medications are being overemphasized, however, some doctors think otherwise.
Sometimes such medications are used to treat serious behavior problems. Consider this, a child that continues to be aggressive will be kicked out from his foster home. The antipsychotic is used to stabilize the behavior of the child, to keep him from being moved over and over again. Unfortunately, doctors are using these atypical drugs off-label to treat various forms of violent or aggressive behavior.
There have been case reviews of children as young as one year old using anti-psychotic drugs for conditions such as autistic disorder and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity.For infants, the drugs aren’t being used for behavior. The infants most often have seizures or complex health issues like heart and respiratory problems, and these drugs can be prescribed to help with discomfort. Seriously, are these drugs needed that early in life?
Is your child on anti-psychotic drugs?