Half of Government-Insured Colorado Children Prescribed Antipsychotics are not Psychotic


According to a report prepared by Colorado University and released to the Denver Post, half of the children on government insurance in Colorado who are prescribed antipsychotics do not have a diagnosed psychotic illness listed on their Medicaid claims.  “Few studies have examined side effects on children, and that the drugs have been linked to weight gain, diabetes and growth of breasts in boys,” the article states. “Foster parents and therapists say heavily medicated children are detached from reality — as though ‘walking in a cloud.’ They also contend that the use of the drugs has been fueled by pharmaceutical firms pursuing big profits with the help of willing doctors.”

Colorado responds slowly to psychotropic drug use among foster kids (Denver Post)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. As has been stated over and over in explaining the difficulty in curtailing the cost of any government program, “Everybody’s money is nobody’s money”. Well, I would propose a similar maxim when it comes to children turned over to a government program: “Everybody’s kids are nobody’s kids”.

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  2. Having worked in an adult foster care home for two weeks, I suspect that this is happening to adults too. I only worked in one, and there were other obvious problems that made the place and the job unacceptable to me, but having to make sure that some of them took their huge piles of pills for lunch while they sat there at the table slobbering and completely out of it already, was not something I had to do or would choose to do, so I quit.

    There are good people who really do want to help children and adults who need help, but too many of them are underfunded, undereducated, and overly sold on bio-psychiatry.

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    • I’m a gardener in slightly less drug happy England. I work for a lot of elderly clients who cannot do their gardens on their own anymore. Two of them were on so called anti-psychotics. They both had mild dementia. The drugs were effecting them badly

      This is state sanctioned dangerous tranquilisation of vulnerable citizens instead of providing proper support.

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      • It’s rampant everywhere. I remember an account of a neurologist who said he is abhorred by some thing happening in hospices and facilities for elderly – the residents are just getting drugged with absurd amounts of pills because then the staff does not have to deal with them.

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    • I worked as an advocate in long term care homes back in 1995, and it was a problem even then. Especially in dementia patients, any sign of aggression was generally met with antipsychotics. One guy I saw was unable to walk through a doorway without running into the door jamb, he was so drugged. The activities director said she’d been hitting a volleyball back and forth with him a week before.

      Basically, anyone who can’t defend him/herself is at a very high risk of being drugged for any behavior that is inconvenient for the authorities. Foster kids have the highest rates because they are the least empowered to fight back of any population in the country. But elderly, physically disabled, developmentally delayed, school children, those in residential treatment, prisoners, soldiers – these people have become our Guinea pigs, but we’re not even bothering to look at the actual results of the experiment. What’s happening to foster kids is happening everywhere. It just happens more to them because they can’t fight back.

      —– Steve

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  3. On facebook today I read a comment from a USA woman that went like this:

    “”The GP in XXXXXX VT in 1985 was fairly systematic about prescribing behavior-control drugs to all the women and kids on welfare. I was a Brownie leader and I saw it happen. Don’t underestimate doctors’ hostility toward poor, unmarried moms. I could not get physical therapy for scoliosis but there was plenty of gov’t $$$ for behavior-control chemicals for moms and kids.”

    It’s time to get angry. Angry and organised

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  4. “Foster parents and therapists say heavily medicated children are detached from reality — as though ‘walking in a cloud.’”
    Awesome, now they unmasked the Sluggish cognitive Tempo disorder and can add some stimulants to the mix.
    Seriously, the problem with antypsychotics in general aside, can someone clean up the whole off-label use of drugs in psychiatry. They just dump any drug on you and hope for the positive (read: efficiently sedative) effect.

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