Should we be medicating our kids?
- This topic has 39 replies, 19 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 1 month ago by bsharg2.
July 9, 2019 6:54 pm at 6:54 pm #1755668
In Zvi Mark’s eye-opening essay, https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/general/1754104/roaring-drug-epidemic-in-our-community-3-weeks-32-overdoses-and-endless-tears.html, he says that many students become addicted to ADHD meds: “students who abused their prescription ADHD meds to get through a grueling finals schedule.”
In the yeshiva system, we currently medicate one out fo every 3-5 boys. Considering its dagers, isn’t it time we reconsider?
Maybe kids arent meant to learn for ten hours straight in high school.July 9, 2019 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm #1756141
Good point. Many of these kids should be medicated. And some should definitely not. Here’s the rub. Who ends up making decisions on this question? I am comfortable with an educator (providing that he/she has had some training about the subject matter) asking a question – this child needs to be evaluated and there needs to be a plan for how to handle the situation to maximize the child’s success in school. The professional makes the ultimate decision, not the school or its staff. When yeshivos threaten mothers to keep their kids at home until they are medicated, resulting in these mothers doing their best to push the pediatricians, we have kids who might not need medication getting it.
No teacher, rebbe, principal, or menahel should ever develop the treatment plan for a child. They need to be ready to create a learning environment that will benefit the child. This can be a huge challenge at times, and more yeshivos are taking keen interest in working to do this.
In short, medication is the answer to certain problems and not for others. Who is assessing the situation and making the intervention plan?July 10, 2019 1:00 am at 1:00 am #1756199
If a child is not doing well in a modern school, that should not be considered a symptom of any problem with the child. Children were not designed to be placed in such a setting.July 10, 2019 8:48 am at 8:48 am #1756252rationalParticipant
It’s interesting that the yeshivishe veldt has almost seamlessly adopted the modern/haskalah/gentile system of education with formal schooling, large classes, tests , grades, and an uncompromising need to “maximize the child’s success in school.” This capitulation to modern Western society norms is most surely not what the Torah had in mind. But it is what it is, the haskalah movement has won this battle hands down.
The result is that we are now chasing this non-Jewish ideal by way of turning our children into drug dependents. Maybe a re-evaluation of the entire system is in order.July 10, 2019 9:49 am at 9:49 am #1756322
Rational: In this “re-evaluation” that you propose to eliminate formal schooling in the Jewish community, what do you propose it be replaced with?
Or were you just blowing hot air with nothing really in mind to replace what you propose discarding.July 10, 2019 9:50 am at 9:50 am #1756333mserenParticipant
The school system is the problem, not the kids.
No normal child should be expected to sit in a large room for 8 hours a day, listening to an adult talk. And yet, we consider this normal behavior.July 10, 2019 11:29 am at 11:29 am #1756400chaya13Participant
Schools do not insist on meds, they insist on an evaluation and if the evaluation recommends meds, some schools will insist that the recommendation be followed so that the learning of the other kids in the class is not inhibited. By all means, if you don’t like the system, create another one, but you can’t put a kid in the current system without giving him the tools he needs to be successful within the system that you have placed him.July 10, 2019 11:29 am at 11:29 am #1756402
There are many different learning styles and methods. Some kids are better visual learners, some are better auditory learners, etc… If minimal effort was put in to figure out which method works best for each child the number of kids on ADD meds would drop dramatically. There are definitely those who need and benefit tremendously from medication, but if a kid is struggling, the first approach should be to see if he/she needs a different learning style, not pump them with stimulants.July 10, 2019 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm #1756454lowerourtuition11210Participant
As a parent who was given the option by medical professionals to use adhd medications for our children who needed it, we accepted the recommendation after we exhausted all other options for that child. However on the flip side we did notice the difference in our children’s school performance once on the medication. Is it the answer for everyone, NO. But for some it is the best option.July 10, 2019 1:11 pm at 1:11 pm #1756474
As a former child, I believe it should be the child’s decision.July 10, 2019 1:53 pm at 1:53 pm #1756492
As a former infant, I believe it should be infants decisions what time to be put to sleep or permitted to be out of the crib.July 10, 2019 1:54 pm at 1:54 pm #1756494
Joseph: I propose shortening the school day, allowing seventh graders to come home the same time as their public school counterparts, and introducing phys ed to the frum world. Perhaps starting gemara later may help as well.July 10, 2019 2:46 pm at 2:46 pm #1756552
Joseph, that already is so.July 10, 2019 5:09 pm at 5:09 pm #1756596
Chaya: “you can’t put a kid in the current system without giving him the tools he needs to be successful within the system that you have placed him.”
Are you seriously calling meds “tools”?July 10, 2019 5:09 pm at 5:09 pm #1756611
Yeshivishrockstar: Your suggestion would necessitate seriously reducing the time available for Limudei Kodesh, something very objectionable to many if not most parents.
Also, please check the thread “A Study in Trolls”; there’s a question there for you.July 10, 2019 5:11 pm at 5:11 pm #1756645
YR -“In the yeshiva system, we currently medicate one out fo every 3-5 boys. Considering its dagers, isn’t it time we reconsider?”
You are severely misinformed!
From a website called ADDmedication:
From their MD:
“Stimulant treatment of ADHD appears to result in reduced alcohol and drug problems, not increased substance abuse.
Some ADHD youth and adults self medicate with substances to treat their ADHD and self esteem problems. Treating ADHD with medication may reduce this phenomenon.”July 10, 2019 5:11 pm at 5:11 pm #1756646jewfromoutoftownParticipant
I believe we should give our kids medication that doctors recommend for them.July 10, 2019 5:29 pm at 5:29 pm #1756675
Health: I am not mistaken. That is from a pharma-sponsered website, so sure they would say that. But Zvi Gluck clearly states from experience that the opposite is true.
Even we concede that properly-diagnosed cases do result in lower addiction rates when prescribed medication, that does not account for the inflated rates in our yeshiva system who would not have recieved the diagnosis had they been in public school or not learning gemara. Everyone agrees that those without ADD who take meds have a risk of getting addicted (some say one out of ten.)July 10, 2019 5:34 pm at 5:34 pm #1756680
“Are you seriously calling meds “tools”?”
are you seriously questioning that statement?July 10, 2019 5:36 pm at 5:36 pm #1756667
Health, that is not accurate because any substance prescribed by a doctor is considered medication, while any substance used to “self medicate” is considered to be abused, even if it has the same effect.July 10, 2019 6:32 pm at 6:32 pm #1756706
Syag: Yes. Meds are not tools, they’re coping devices (for the student, or more often, the teachers.) Meds may give someone correctly diagnosed an opportunity to learn tools, but they are not tools.July 10, 2019 8:46 pm at 8:46 pm #1756732akupermaParticipant
If a kid isn’t diseased, why give them drugs?July 10, 2019 8:47 pm at 8:47 pm #1756721
Yidd23 -“even if it has the same effect.”
The point is – if you self medicate, almost always it won’t work!July 11, 2019 12:21 am at 12:21 am #1756753
Joseph – a long school day is scharoi yotze behefsedo. Just like we tell parents not to have TV, we should also tell them “no long days.”
There’s no issur bitul torah for 12 year olds!
Mods: I think some of my messages aren’t getting through. Or are you guys just super-busy?July 11, 2019 3:21 am at 3:21 am #1756755MistykinsParticipant
I have many thoughts on this. Every member of my family (3 generations) has some degree of ADD/ ADHD. Most of us are unmedicated. I refused to medicate my daughter for several years, and she has done amazing on it. My son is quite bright and the distractions don’t take away from his learning, so he is unmedicated. As far as I’m concerned, parents need to learn all the risks, growth issues, dependence, sleep problems, etc.
That being said, a lot is wrong with the learning system. One instructor I know makes his boys run 2-3 laps every day before a lesson. It takes away a lot of energy and helps with focus. Kids aren’t meant to sit for 8 hours reading. The human body is made for movement. Look back a few hundred years. How many people had the “luxury” of sitting? No, they farmed, they built, they raised cattle. They moved!
And children now, whether because of the school system or just genetics, aren’t all built to sit and learn. Some need to fidget, to sit on a ball instead of a chair, wear a sensory vest, etc. But we live in a world where a teacher can’t focus on meeting everyone’s needs, and so it seems like medicating then into normalcy is the only way to solve their differences. And I find that with many special needs children, it is easier to make an excuse or hand a child a pill than it is to adapt to their learning style. My friend has a daughter like this. Severe ADD and sensory issues. They chose to pull her from the school system and mom would home-school. The child is 13 and has completed high school, full scholarships for college. Because instead of forcing her into normalcy, they used her unique abilities to foster greater learning. Now this isn’t the case for most people, but it’s important to not run to a pill to solve life’s problems.July 11, 2019 8:12 am at 8:12 am #1756809
You bring out a crucial point. It is too often that the use of meds for ADHD and its variants is with the purpose of molding the child to the school. And Shlomo Hamelech, in Mishlei tells us that this is opposite of what we should be doing – accommodating the chinuch to the child.
Having noted this, it is important that we remember that ADHD exists on a spectrum, with variations in symptoms and severity. Meds without other interventions is of minimal value. And there are cases in which going without meds is close to useless. There is an individual decision to make for each and every case. I recall a number of years ago when there were debates in our orthodox media, ADHD – pro- or anti- using medications. My reaction at that time was to laugh. It’s like pro or anti oil change. Either you need it or you don’t. It takes careful evaluation to know whether it is indicated or not, and this is also not with 100% consensus where to draw the line. Using meds without the real need is foolish, and actually caries some risk. These discussions about the general approach lack the needed individualized approach.July 11, 2019 11:42 am at 11:42 am #1756898
It’s less like an oil change and more like brain surgery.July 11, 2019 11:44 am at 11:44 am #1756921
TLIK – You are missing her point! Misty & the OP are living in Utopia. They believe that there is No need to medicate anyone with ADHD. Time for them to get out of the Middle Ages.July 11, 2019 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm #1756936
“It’s less like an oil change and more like brain surgery.”
throwing ignorant comments into a serious discussion is misleading. When kids suffer from imbalances, disorders, diseases or conditions that make that individual UNABLE TO FUNCTION then it is serious neglect to deprive the child of whatever help he or she needs. The fact that you don’t like it does not make it okay to misrepresent it in such a way. People who swear off drugs for all these theoretical and feel good reasons are no different than anti vaxers who worry more about their political or personal status than what is in the best interest of their child.July 11, 2019 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm #1756956
I don’t know what goes on in the tri state area (which some posters mistake for the whole jewish world) but I have been working in schools and out for almost 2 decades with children with more severe ADD/HD. They only come my way because they are not able to manage in their classroom, peer groups, home life or a combination of those. I don’t see anyone “throwing medication” at these kids for an easy fix. USUALLY, and that means the most often scenario, we have to meet with the parents several times to convince them that if they choose not to medicate then they NEED to choose a different intervention. They need to understand that the damage done to a child who is unable to control his impulses even if it results in hurting friends, who is unable to concentrate even in conversation with peers, who struggles to follow a class even with supports in place, who is repeatedly yelled at or avoided by siblings because he is “always” breaking their stuff/ruining their game/telling their secrets/unwilling tofollow game rules or lose (let alone graciously)is tremendous and *avoidable*. I am not an advocate for meds, but I have experienced the daily suffering of many many children who are in emotional pain beyond your understanding due to the failure of the parents to administer either medications OR alternative SUCCESSFUL interventions.
The ones who wave the anti med flags on kids they never met seem to have their own personal med issues that they are either secretly justifying or hiding behind.July 11, 2019 1:10 pm at 1:10 pm #1756984
Syag – I appreciate the emotional agrument, but no-ones arguing that there aren’t kids who deserve to be medicated. What i was talking about is the borderline cases. Many rebbeim have told me that one in 3 kids in their class is medicated. That’s messed up.
BTW, none of my posts yesterday went through. I’m not sure what I did to deserve a ban. But I did try to respond to certain points.July 11, 2019 3:19 pm at 3:19 pm #1757064
Syag, this discussion is not about the type of kids you mentioned. It’s about kids in mainstream yeshivas who are having medication thrown at them because they are not the top of their class and the school has no clue how to handle or properly educate them.July 11, 2019 3:19 pm at 3:19 pm #1757037zahavasdadParticipant
I know a posek who answers questions every Erev Pesach about parents giving their children some sort of sleeping pill so they will sleep during the day and will be up for the SedarJuly 11, 2019 3:19 pm at 3:19 pm #1757033yeshivishrockstar2Participant
MODS: My main account (Yeshivishrockstar) seems to be heading to spam. I haven’t posted anything offensive nor broken the rules, so I am not sure why I am blocked.
Syag: Of course there are kids who should be medicated. But its hard to believe its on out of three to one out of five, which is the rate for boys in public schools nowadays, al achas vachas more in our yeshivos.July 11, 2019 4:56 pm at 4:56 pm #1757327
bk613 -“Syag, this discussion is not about the type of kids you mentioned. It’s about kids in mainstream yeshivas who are having medication thrown at them because they are not the top of their class and the school has no clue how to handle or properly educate them.”
I Don’t believe your comment! Name one Yeshiva who throws Meds at a kid – that hasn’t been diagnosed by a professional.July 11, 2019 4:58 pm at 4:58 pm #1757281
Syag, proponents of lobotomies also thought them necessary and called everyone who disagreed with them ignorant. Also, you’re using one of the standard nonsense arguments: I disagree with you; therefore, you must be uninformed or uneducated.July 11, 2019 5:14 pm at 5:14 pm #1757350
Bk- yes I am talking about the kids in the mainstream yeshivas. And my point is that nobody is throwing medication at them because they are not on the top of the class. It’s a made up scenario *sometimes* used by people who want to justify not giving meds to their own kids.
YRS – I agree. I don’t believe it’s one out of five either.July 11, 2019 5:46 pm at 5:46 pm #1757369yeshivishrockstar2Participant
Syag – q out of five boys is the public school numbers. I’m scared to find out the real ones in Yeshiva. When I was in the Mir, around half the shiur had been prescribed meds at one point in their lives (including me.) That’s not normal.
And meds aren’t tools – they are masks. They may mask the symptoms enough to let you learn tools, but they are not tools.July 11, 2019 5:49 pm at 5:49 pm #1757368
Syag, You said you work “with children with more severe ADD/HD” that doesn’t sound like a mainstream yeshiva to me. I’ll admit that I exaggerated for emphasis when I said “throwing medication at them because they are not on the top of the class.” My point is that meds for ADD/ADHD are often given to kids who can be successful without them, if they were educated with a different approach that better suits their learning needs and plays to their strengths.July 11, 2019 5:50 pm at 5:50 pm #1757365
First off I don’t really care if you believe me or not.
Secondly, I never said or implied that the yeshivas are dispensing meds on there own. If a yeshiva tells parents that their child must be evaluated or else he/she can’t come to school anymore I’ll bet you 99% of those kids end up on meds. I personally believe that alternative approaches should be attempted (if not exhausted) before pumping stimulants into a child/adolescent. Do you disagree?July 11, 2019 6:12 pm at 6:12 pm #1757384MistykinsParticipant
Health: if you read my text instead of jumping to a Stone Age accusation, I stated that I had refused to give my daughter medication for years, but she did amazing on it. I also stated that “most” (not all) of my family is unmedicated. My son has ADD, but not severe enough to need stimulants.
I know a boy with severe ADHD whose parents refuse to medicate, and it has ruined the boy’s education and social relationships (because he is such a distraction). He needs medication. However, many parents insist on drugging their child instead of working with them.
So please, don’t make assumptions about my beliefs.July 11, 2019 7:29 pm at 7:29 pm #1757408ari-freeParticipant
Children need to be taught k’darko. My niece was bored to tears every day because she wasn’t challenged enough. She wanted to learn more but nope, need to stick with the rest of the class. Others are falling behind behind but they too must keep up with the rest of the class so they keep sinking since the next skill depends on what they have failed to learned previously. We have the technology for self paced mastery education…it’s about time we use it.
However, if there is an actual medical issue then the child needs medication. All of the technology and ideas in education won’t be able to mask a real medical conditionJuly 11, 2019 7:46 pm at 7:46 pm #1757418PuhLeaseParticipant
To add more of my “cents” in…
A pharmacological solution is not, in of itself, a solution. Any person, but especially a child who has the need for pharmacological assistance, needs to be cognizant that medication is an “assist”. It is not a solution. A child needs to understand that he or she has the ability to have control over his or her behavior. The medication will not “fix” the behavior problem, rather, it will give the individual time to “pause” and consider what would be best behavior choice.
Medication should never be used on its own. It should be used in conjunction with a mental health professional.July 11, 2019 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm #1757435
A bit of correction is needed. Pharmacological solution is an option for many conditions and diseases in which there is a chemical substrate. Yet, there are times where even with this, there can be mind over matter. However, making general statements fails every time. Each case must be judged on its own merit. Some kids are resilient, and cope with difficulties, others are not and cannot. To the degree that the chemistry is the culprit, the meds will do the trick. What we need to recognize is that patterns of behavior develop as a result, and these may be incompatible with educational progress. That’s the role of therapy, aside from helping with those aspects of the condition that are not affected by the medication.
It should be unnecessary to stress that treatment with medications should only be performed by someone with proper training and expertise. For that reason, I am rather untrusting of the average non-psychiatrist physician regarding prescribing many of the medications intended to treat a mental health condition.July 12, 2019 3:59 pm at 3:59 pm #1757583
TLIK – “‘For that reason, I am rather untrusting of the average non-psychiatrist physician regarding prescribing many of the medications intended to treat a mental health condition.”
You’re correct!February 19, 2020 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm #1833388bsharg2Participant
Am a pediatrician.
ADHD is significantly overdiagnosed. Many children who don’t need medications are medicated. Schools pressure parents, parents pressure doctors. Doctors will prescribe if they are pressured.
Yes there are children with actual ADHD who need the medication. But ADHD is often diagnosed in children who don’t have it. There can be something else going on. For example, sleep deprivation. Children need 10 hours sleep a night. If a child isn’t sleeping enough, their symptoms will look exactly like ADHD.
Letting kids run and work off extra energy in between lessons is helpful. Talk to the teachers to see if they will allow the child to run a lap/jump up and down after sitting for an hour. Stimulants are harmful, they are addictive, they do have side effects. They are often abused. They are in the same drug category as cocaine and methamphetamine.
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