Currently, about half of all American children aged 2 to 4 are being prescribed with psychotropic drugs. In just 14 years, the number of children taking psychotropic drugs has gone up by 327% (CHAADA). The problem of overmedication, however, dates longer than that. The World Health Organization warned doctors and parents as early as 1966 that the use of behavior-altering drugs, such as Ritalin, can have serious effects on children (Doherty). Children are at great risks of overmedication since most of the drugs psychiatrists administer to them have only been tested on adults. Frontline quotes Dr. Patrick Bacon saying that the medicating children with psychotropic drugs are “to some extent an experiment.” If the “gamble” does not payoff, it could lead to serious physical and psychological side effects, just as in the case of Matthew above.
It is true that children who are behaving differently than normal need medical attention to prevent any behavioral illness from reaching its peak. If they are not given the proper medication, both children and their parents will suffer. Treating behavioral disorders will also help children function properly in school and live normally with other children. More than anything else, early diagnosis and treatment would give children a greater chance grow into normal adults.
The effects of wrong diagnosis outweigh the benefits of early medication. As in the case of Matthew described above, improper medication could be fatal. In the case of another child, Jacob Solomon, his parents put him on Ritalin after he was diagnosed with ADHD. The parents did see improvements on the behavior of their five-year old child but the drug caused him to develop severe muscular contraction around his neck (Frontline). Aside from physical side effects such as this, powerful behavior-altering drugs could also have psychological effects on