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Why Must Everything Be a Medical Condition

Posted: 19/08/2013 00:00

Prescriptions for ADHD medicines have soared by 50% in six years. I believe we are feeding a worrying appetite that is satiated only by a prescription for a medical condition.

Instead of accepting a problem and agreeing to do something about it, we seek a quick diagnosis (most made in under seven minutes) and a bottle of rattling pills to make it go away.

A medical condition is a badge, absolving the wearer of any responsibility to deal with a problem, requiring in its place sympathy, compassion and support from the state.

A survey of 10,000 children in Canada found the youngest in the class (born December or January) was twice as likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. We have taken being young, and made it into a medical disorder.

In many cases, medication seems to be more about making life easier for the parent than relieving symptoms for the benefit of the child. Given this very modern phenomenon for ADHD, I would argue that for some children a lack of exercise, poor diet and absence of parental control is also an issue.

Behind this huge surge in over diagnosis and over treatment is the bible of psychiatric practitioners: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders. Adding new conditions such as Aspergers Syndrome or Bipolar II Disorder results in shock waves of diagnosis and treatment that reach far beyond patients in direct need.

The diagnostic system is too important in decisions outside its area of confidence. For autism, it has become a necessity to have a diagnosis to access special school services. Autism diagnosis in the States have increased 40 times in 40 years.

Unbelievably one in five children at state school now has a Special Educational Need. Perhaps we will only be ready to challenge the march towards diagnosis and medication when 100% of school children have a SEN and we can no longer differentiate those with a genuine need from those with a prescription.

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  • Depressants, opioids and antidepressants are responsible for more overdose deaths (45%) than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and amphetamines (39%) combined. (drugfreeworld.org)

  • Narcotic pain relievers now cause or contribute to nearly 3 out of 4 prescription drug overdoses and about 15,500 deaths in the US each year. (CDC.gov)

  • Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. (CDC.gov)

  • Eating disorders (which includes everything from anorexia to bulimia to binge eating) have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. (ANAD.org)

  • More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinking, which is defined as when a man consumes 5 or more drinks, and when women consumes 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours. (CDC.gov)

  • Marijuana use has increased since 2007. In 2011, there were 18.1 million current (past-month) users—about 7.0 percent of people aged 12 or older—up from 14.4 million (5.8 percent) in 2007. (drugabuse.gov)

  • Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse has skyrocketed 430% in the past decade. (SAMHSA)

  • Smoking-related diseases cause an estimated 440,000 American deaths each year. (interventionspecialists.org)

  • Binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more than among those with lower incomes. (CDC.gov)

  • Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. (ANAD.org)

  • More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. Next most common are prescription pain relievers, followed by inhalants (which is most common among younger teens). (drugabuse.gov)

  • Women account for 39 percent of all smoking deaths in the US. (interventionspecialists.org)

  • Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for over 79,000 deaths in the US each year. (CDC.gov)

  • One person’s obesity can significantly increase the chance that his or her friends, siblings, and spouse will also become heavy. (New England Journal of Medicine)

 

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