Extend Your Child’s ADHD Summer Drug Holiday to Infinity and Beyond!

Michael W. Corrigan, EdD
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With school starting across the country, from the perspective of most kids, the fun is officially done. Summer by youthful definition is basically over. Meanwhile, parents nationwide are basking in this euphoric occasion. No longer will they hear every five minutes the astute yet shortsighted exclamation “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do!” Finally parents can switch their XM channel from Hits 1 back to Coffee House without being berated for being so old. But due to the popularity of the ADHD diagnosis, many parents also are debating whether to extend their child’s ADHD summer drug holiday into the school year, or once again start drugging the child-like behaviors associated with the symptoms of the controversial ADHD diagnosis.

A drug holiday, also sometimes called a structured treatment interruption, is defined as a brief period during which a patient stops taking a prescribed medication (e.g., antidepressant or ADHD drug) to recover some normal functions, reduce side effects, or maintain sensitivity to the drug.  For kids, an ADHD summer drug holiday just basically means they once again can enjoy a few priceless childhood summer months to cleanse their systems, function naturally, and just think and act like a kid.

If an ADHD summer drug holiday sounds like a nice get-a-way for your children but you missed the opportunity; don’t worry. Drug holidays don’t have to be limited to summers. With help from a medical expert, you can wean your child off of the ADHD drugs at any time of the year.

Such drug-free periods allow children to partially clear their minds of the unnatural neurochemical levels induced by ADHD drugs. Drug holidays provide kids with a brief opportunity to practice thinking and acting appropriately with sobriety. You might note that the Controlled Substance Act classifies ADHD stimulant drugs as highly addictive Schedule II controlled substances similar to cocaine and morphine. Parents get to truly see how their children behave when not medicated. For some, such efforts are a rude reminder of why they agreed to drug their child in the first place. But for those brave parents willing to try again, drug holidays give them a chance to practice teaching their children how to think and behave without the assistance of drugs.

For parents questioning if ADHD drugs are the best long term or even short term answer to helping their children actually “learn” how to behave better or focus in school, drug holidays provide a second chance to revisit their decision to drug the child-like behaviors associated with ADHD, which often is haphazardly diagnosed using 18 simple descriptions of common childhood behaviors. For parents, a drug holiday might also be of interest because their conscience often challenges them to consider if putting a child on ADHD drugs was the right decision. Many parents have shared with me how they wonder if the “experts” who encouraged or wrote the prescription for the ADHD drugs had the child’s best interest in mind. These experts often profit from the work of pharmaceutical companies through direct sales of the drugs or through recruiting regular long term young patients that need to have their heart monitored due to the health risks and side effects of the drugs.

Many parents are not aware that kids develop a tolerance for ADHD drugs over time. To maintain the drugs’ sensitivity (aka potency) it is not uncommon to see prescribed dosages increase dramatically on an annual basis. Given that the longer a child stays on ADHD drugs the stronger the dosage becomes, as well as the many potential health risks and side effects of ADHD drugs that often also include children experiencing growth suppression (i.e. stunted growth and challenges to normal weight gain), ADHD drug holidays provide a great opportunity for families to reevaluate the need for drug therapy.

Many practitioners who prescribe such drugs don’t readily share with parents how decades of practice and research document that more-structured, drug-free natural child development offers the most sustainable and safest approach for kids to truly learn expected social customs and appropriate behaviors. They don’t share how the unwanted behaviors that so many adults long to see disappear will mellow with time. They don’t share how so many of these unwanted behaviors are also signs of giftedness and highly creative minds. Effective approaches to helping kids develop should never be dependent upon a drug to play the role that more structured and consistent adult supervision (aka more strategically focused teaching and parent involvement) typically can treat more effectively. What we are really drugging when it comes to children with ADHD, are simple yet slightly annoying common childhood behaviors that time, patience and hard work on the behalf of adults will heal.

In my new book, Debunking ADHD: 10 Reasons to Stop Drugging Kids for Acting like Kids, I have a chapter based on child development research I teach at the college level. This chapter shares how quite often the youngest kids in their grades are being medicated for ADHD more than others. What this research suggests is that we are often drugging kids because they do not act as mature or behave as well as others in the class.

Child development research shows us how all children go through the same stages of development, we call this stage theory. But the research also shows how very few hit these stages on the same timeline. Some children develop appropriate behaviors more quickly while others take considerably more time to learn the unwritten laws of behaving like a young adult. Stage theory shows us that while kids are developing we will see a wide spectrum of behaviors in classrooms and homes ranging from wonderful to more than slightly frustrating.

Stage theory also shows us, however, that children learn how to behave appropriately if given the time and support needed to develop naturally. I believe stage theory explains why millions of kids are being diagnosed ADHD. When you use stage theory to examine the behaviors used to diagnose kids ADHD, what you find is that many kids are just one stage away from behaving like other supposedly normal kids in the class; behaving the way teachers and parents want them to. This is often referred to as being temporarily developmentally delayed. By the way, being developmentally delayed is a common occurrence and should not be viewed as a permanent learning disability. Many of our best thinkers were developmentally delayed in their younger years (e.g., Albert Einstein). In time those unique supposedly abnormal behaviors were modified and even defined their greatness.

Drug holidays provide an opportunity to see if these children being medicating for ADHD have caught up developmentally with their peers. The chance exists that even with being on ADHD drugs that force a child to limit their social interaction and imagination (i.e. two essential pieces of the puzzle to enhancing brain development) the child has progressed to a level more similar to their peers. Regardless if such developmental progress has occurred or not, drug holidays provide parents with another chance to increase their patience and perseverance, and double down on the mission to raise and nurture their children. Drug holidays are not only a good idea for children, but parents as well.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s when medicating kids for attention disorders gained momentum, pharmaceutical companies actually recommended summer drug holidays until concerned parents and caring practitioners started to question whether it was an attention problem connected to a real mental disorder, or just an interest problem that millions of kids have when it comes to sitting seven hours at a school desk being taught things they unfortunately often do not find interesting. This created a real conundrum. How could children supposedly have a “real mental disorder” requiring medication, but miraculously the disorder is capable of taking a three month hiatus away from drugs when school lets out? Such a conundrum left many wondering if the diagnosis was real and if drugs were really needed. And though you will rarely find drug companies making such recommendations in this day and age, you will run across a handful of doctors that do. They do this because they are actually concerned about the long term use of ADHD drugs as well as the over diagnosis and misdiagnoses of ADHD taking place today.

One would think, with nothing good ever really resulting from taking a medication indefinitely (besides maybe something like insulin), that taking a drug holiday might be recommended as a regular precautionary measure to see if kids have made developmental progress with behavior and focusing in schools. One would think there would be ample research on how such practices can be used to monitor the severity of ADHD symptoms. But serendipitously for those tied to the pharmaceutical industry and others writing prescriptions that further support the blossoming billion dollar wing selling “Study Drugs” for kids, little research exists on drug holidays to provide adults with a clear answer. Just like the shortage of research definitively documenting what the drugs actually do to a child’s brain or nervous system good or bad, however (which has been the case for the past 60 years ADHD stimulant drugs have been sold), there is scant research on the effectiveness of drug holidays related to monitoring the ADHD diagnosis.

But fear not. Most of the answers pertaining to the promise of ADHD drug holidays (or to the whole ADHD drug debate for that matter) do not necessarily require sound scientific research to make a sound decision. Why? First, those pushing ADHD as a valid diagnosis of children lack scientific evidence to justify ADHD even exists. The pro-ADHD movement cannot come to an agreement on (nor do they have definitive evidence of) ADHD’s causes or origins. The little research they have for the varying and multiple competing unsupported theories cannot stand up to rigorous research expectations.

Furthermore, the ADHD drug companies and the American Psychiatric Association readily admit no tests exist that are capable of statistically or scientifically determining who has or does not have ADHD. The questionable 18 symptoms and criteria for diagnosing ADHD were created by “experts” who are or were paid by the pharmaceutical industry, and dissenting input from psychologists and mental health practitioners who do not prescribe drugs has been ignored for decades. So when it comes to the science behind the pro-ADHD case, the pseudo-science they have leaves us with more questions than it does answers. Now there is an abundance of sound scientific research on lab animals that documents detrimental effects of ADHD drugs to the central nervous system. But if they don’t use definitive or sound science to support the case for ADHD, why should we use science to dismiss the use of ADHD drugs?

For most parents I have worked with, just saying no to ADHD drugs really came down to a personal decision. The decision came down to common sense in a world where common sense is not that common anymore, and the realization that the child needed something completely different than drugs. Most kids just need more understanding, support and guidance from the adults in their world. They just need more time.

Drugging kids should be our last resort. But when drugging kids has become such common practice for apparently any misbehaviors or academic focus issues that create distractions in the classroom, shouldn’t we first rethink how we are educating our children? Instead, the first place kids are often sent is to an expert to be diagnosed ADHD and drugged. We must question if labeling and drugging kids is truly being approached as the last resort. How many of the millions of parents, educators and practitioners of such children exhausted every resource or effort needed to help a child grow through this stage of life (development) before accepting a mental disorder label and drugs? How many took a year to adopt a new approach to instruction or child rearing (aka parent involvement) at home, before saying yes to drugs? If 4.5 million plus parents are reaching this last resort before truly exhausting all other alternatives, we obviously need to build more establishments to support them when it comes to education and community support. Because for most parents, this is not the pleasure cruise they signed up for.

But there are numerous other reasons to not drug children for ADHD. For instance, if we were to diagnose all of the kids in the USA today, using the current DSM diagnostic criteria for ADHD that considers 18 simple descriptions of normal childhood behavior to be symptoms of a mental disorder, then nearly every child would be labeled ADHD. We might as well call it a Diagnosis of Normal or the All Do Have Disorder. Also, there is no valid or definitive evidence supporting these drugs actually help children academically. In fact, evidence shows the drugs are harmful to a child’s physical, neurological and psychological development.

According to the CDC, the USA has experienced a 41% increase in ADHD cases during the last decade, while the rest of the world has experienced little to no change. Close to two-thirds of the 6.4 million kids diagnosed ADHD in the USA are being drugged daily with ADHD stimulants. Headlines scribed by a few brave journalists continue to question not if this movement has grown out of control but just how far out of control. The possibility exists that far too many millions of kids have been misdiagnosed or wrongly diagnosed. I’m tired of watching millions of rambunctious kids, kids acting like kids, being labeled ADHD and force-fed dangerous drugs. To think as a child I complained about Flintstone’s Chewables.

For parents who have taken their kids on a summer drug holiday this year, kudos to you. And for those contemplating a permanent vacation away from ADHD drugs, let me be the first to say that I am very proud of you and support your decision wholeheartedly!

Now if you were hoping this article might help you feel better about drugging your children rather than buckling down and facing the facts that parenthood and raising children is no walk in the park, I know if you made it this far you are probably feeling a little anxiety and possibly anger. I am sorry, and hope some of what I have shared has helped you to reevaluate ADHD drugs. After watching this trend grow out control, I have just reached a breaking point. I just believe that with more than 6.4 million kids diagnosed ADHD in the USA, and millions more to be added on this school year, more of us need to start being direct and honest when it comes to drugging kids for ADHD. What seems to be missing from the internet, and readily available from the selection of pharmaceutical marketing brochures in the kiosk at your family doctor’s and mental health practitioner’s offices, is the truth about ADHD symptoms and the absurdity of ADHD drugs.

If you have been drugging your child for an extended amount of time and are wondering if the time is right to stop such practices, consult your doctor and ask they help you wean the child off of the drugs to revaluate such practices. Explain to your school that you will be taking a new approach to your child’s “ADHD” issues. And ask them to support you in your efforts to help your child truly live a drug free life like the DARE posters in schools proclaim. Our kids deserve nothing less.

30 COMMENTS

  1. “Our kids deserve nothing less,” I completely agree. It’s heartbreaking so many children are being defamed with unproven diseases and harmed by doctors with drugs, for profit.

    My son was always one of the youngest in his class. And unfortunately, we’d dealt with child sexual abuse when he was in a private preschool. I switched my child from his “school for gifted children” to the public school system when he was in first grade. The teachers didn’t think it unusual when my “gifted” child suffered from reading difficulties in first grade, which was likely due to the prior child abuse.

    But, by eighth grade, my child had overcome his issues caused by the child abuse (through love, and proper parenting). He ended up getting 100% on his state standardized tests. The school social worker was so confused (apparently since my child had not been noticed as “gifted” initially) that she called me and accused me of “keeping your child up nights studying, and pushing him too hard.” I told her I was a mean mother who had my child in bed by 9pm every night. And that my son never had any homework, so played World of Warcraft constantly. I then asked her if she had any behavioral problems with my child. She embarrassedly conceded there were none, and hung up.

    Then the social worker went to my son’s teachers, and asked them to accuse me of the same thing. During a parent teacher conference, I had to explain that my son’s intelligence was a genetic “problem,” everyone in my family tested well on standardized tests. Eventually, the science teacher understood, and I was apologized to.

    The psychiatric practitioner’s, and one percent’s, desire to drug up all the “gifted” children in the middle class school districts, is criminal, in my opinion. As are their cover ups of the sexual abuse of small children. Personally, I’ve never met dumber people, than those who believe in the DSM “bible.”

    • “As are their cover ups of the sexual abuse of small children.”
      A prime role of psychiatry – covering up all kids of abuse (sexual, domestic, psychological…). Blaming the victim for being defective and crazy instead of going after the abuser or solving societal problems.

      • Certainly worked for Muammar Gaddafi B.

        I saw a documentary about him called Mad Dog; Inside the secret world of Muammar Gaddafi last night. To ensure that the women that he raped were not believed he would have them shipped off to a psychiatric hospital and have them drugged.

        Those doing this sort of thing are in good company eh?

  2. Someone,

    Congratulations on helping your son overcome a very poor start in school! Here’s a hint for the future: my daughter was a volunteer mother in her two daughters’ classrooms when they started to school. She (and the girls) were so disappointed in what they encountered that she took them out and homeschooled them (“unschooled” as they call it) all the way through 12th grade, with the help of a local homeschooling parents’ organization. I was very doubtful about what the outcome would be, but today one child is finishing her last year in law school and the other is entering med school. They are both bright, responsible, socially skilled with their peers and adults, and real self-starters who set their own goals and work to attain them. I highly recommend this route if your son’s school damages him again.

    Best,
    Mary Newton

    • Thank you for the advise, Mary. And, yes, I did have to find alternative schooling for my children come high school, the school district did eventually confess they were “not equipped to deal with the ‘gifted’ children.” But, the science teacher did function as an angel, and mentor, for both my children through junior high.

      My son ended up getting a very good scholarship at a boarding school for high school, and graduated as valedictorian. He’s now got a great scholarship at a well respected private college. My daughter is doing well at the same boarding school. I have quite a few friends, however, who chose the home schooling route, and have tremendous respect for them.

    • I’ve been very skeptical about the homeschooling thing but if the choice is between having your kids drugged in order to sit through a class teaching him/her to memorize thousands of data points with no understanding (current education model) or teaching them at home I guess the answer is obvious.

  3. Thank you for the inspiration! This article is very relevant as it concerns my four year old grandson. He is very smart and well behaved, and he has great fine and gross motor skills. He is quite a delight to be around: loving, thoughtful, affectionate, and very good at controlling his impulses. But his verbal communication (speech) is extremely delayed. Even though he understands and follows directions extremely well, he can get very frustrated because others do not readily understand him. Others can get frustrated with him. I am concerned that his delayed development as it regards speech will be prematurely labeled as a learning disability and he will be diagnosed and stigmatized, which in turn, may lead to behavioral issues and who knows what. Children should be protected to the greatest extent possibly from well intended but misguided professionals who think that all children should be punched out like little cookies from cookie cutters. Protecting children from institutional harm is very challenging.

    • Madmom,

      If your grandson is going into the public school system, you may want to consider holding him back a year, especially with a boy (as boys typically mature later than girls). Doing such would be infinitely better than having the school system stigmatize and mandate drugging for life.

      “Children should be protected to the greatest extent possibly from well intended but possibly misguided professionals … Protecting children from institutional harm is very challenging.” It’s sad our institutions, for which we pay taxes to protect us, are now causing harm to humans for profit. And it’s sad the “professionals” are so misguided. But this does seem to be today’s reality.

    • Madmom,

      The issue is if the delayed speech issue isn’t addressed, your grandson will get a label that is alot worse than having LD or something similar. If you haven’t done so, you might want to consider taking him for a private evaluation by a speech pathologist who won’t label him as having a mental illness and will offer suggestions for remedies that can get him caught up and able to use the wonderful gifts you have mentioned.

      • We are trying to get a referral! He is in the public welfare system (free medical care) where one must really push hard to get early intervention services for children like my grandson. Which is a pity because he shows really great promise as an empathetic human being- a healer or a religious perhaps? (ironically, his speech impediment or his lack of ability to string syntax together into complex sentences has led him to develop a very highly attuned ‘intuition’ with people and very advanced listening skills; I have also observed him spending an unusual amount of time simply being still and ‘reflective’ something I don’t often observe in young people) but he will be left out to dry by the early education system if we cannot get a referral/services for this damn speech thing.

        We cannot afford a structured pre-school, so I arrange my own work schedule around his mom’s daycare needs and when he is not with me and my husband or my son, he goes to a state licensed daycare program which is essentially a woman on disability who pads her income by taking in a few children into her single wide mobile home. No structure or learning activities there.

        I have no legal authority as grandparent to advocate effectively for him and both biological parents, though they are loving and involved, are exhausted from working long shifts. They just don’t seem to have any steam left at the end of a long work week, especially with extra shifts, to advocate persistently, fill out paperwork, keep records, and follow through consistently with appointments.

        I think that our family’s situation is very typical of the new paradigm of low wage workers who currently receive social services or who are eligible for social services. Life has a way of beating down many workers to the point where they cannot advocate effectively for a loved one, let alone organize for social change. So many of our issues are mirrored by others. Low wages, poverty, dead-end, dispiriting work, no vacation or sick leave to speak of, lack of access to higher education and on the other end of the spectrum, lack of access to preschool, lack of access to legal counsel, good nutrition, parks and open spaces, etc. all of those barriers are increasing the economic divide between rich and poor and diminishing hope for many of us. Education has traditionally been the great leveling of the playing field but the barriers to education are increasing.

        I truly fear that my children and grandchildren will not be able to enjoy the same educational opportunities as I did, when I was their age. Sorry for the rant. I couldn’t resist.

        • “Life has a way of beating down many workers to the point where they cannot advocate effectively for a loved one, let alone organize for social change. So many of our issues are mirrored by others. Low wages, poverty, dead-end, dispiriting work, no vacation or sick leave to speak of, lack of access to higher education and on the other end of the spectrum, lack of access to preschool, lack of access to legal counsel, good nutrition, parks and open spaces, etc. all of those barriers are increasing the economic divide between rich and poor and diminishing hope for many of us.”
          I wonder why so called “mental illness” is on the rise… But it must be the genetically determined brain defects that are causing people to have mental health issues.
          I am sorry it is so difficult for you, unfortunately there is nothing to be done without changing what you have so eloquently described above… I hope you manage somehow to push the system to get you some reasonable therapist though – one always has to have hope.

    • Maybe you should take him to a speech therapist? It really helps – my brother had some issues with pronouncing certain sounds and he attended the therapy a few times a week for like a year or so – today he can speak normally. There’s nothing stigmatising about that – many kids have problems with pronunciation and flow and the younger the child the easier is to correct it.

      • B, thanks! When I was a child, my mother pushed hard for me to have speech therapy for a severe lisp and it worked wonders for my self esteem! I was assigned to a really good speech pathologist in the public school system in the city where I grew up. My mom, by coincidence received her degree in linguistics from New York City College, so she knew what to ask for. She also had the gumption to fight for the school system to pay every penny of my private speech lessons from a really well trained practitioner who had a gift with children. Many
        certified special ed instructors these days have certificates in ‘special education’ that in no way qualifies them to deliver high quality speech therapy. I’m not even sure the kind of services I received are available any longer in the public school system. I think special education has become a kind of ‘one size fits all’ program and they lump a lot of kids together that have an extraordinary range of gifts and abilities.

  4. I will continue to extend my ADHD drug holiday, been several years now, cause I can’t take that anxiety and depression than comes when the Adderal high/focus wears off. Got the focus, doing good… now I am crashing and its going away, feel like crap now, over and over day in day out no thanks. More pills for ‘side’ effects ? Double no thanks.

    They say ADHD is like the channels on the T.V are always changing… Kinda makes sense, until I find something I like then don’t touch that remote !

    • One more thing to add – when you mention side effects of ADHD drugs one which is rarely mentioned is is psychosis. ADHD drugs are essentially amphetamines and they are well known to causes psychotic episodes in drug users. So it can be a gateway drug to your child being misdiagnosed as bipolar or worse schizophrenic and being put on even worse drugs (not mentioning other abuse that comes with these labels).

  5. Thank you Michael for another “common sense”article on ADHD. I distinctly recall when my two sons were in elementary school. My oldest was an Oct b-day, and fortunately I had read enough (and been persuaded by his pre-school teacher not to let him start kindergarten being just four years old). So, every parent-teacher conference through elementary school, my husband and I were never surprised to hear each one of his teachers rave about his listening skills, ability to sit in the reading circle without moving around and would comment “oh, if only my class had more Shane’s there wouldn’t be so much inattention in the class”). One year I suggested could it be his ability to not fidget and get lost in thought was perhaps due to the fact he was a later birthday, meaning he was actually a year older than some of the kids-especially the boys?) My son in 5th grade announced he wanted to know why during lunch time so many of his friends had to go to the school nurse and get “special pills”. I had no idea what he was referring to so met with the teacher who whispered “oh, a lot of the boys in this class have ADHD- they can’t sit still so they have take medications”. I was quite horrified and I pressed further. “Just how many boys are sent for these meds each day”. I still remember her response “9”. I blurted out “that’s just not scientifically possible Ms. Lomen- that 25% of your classroom is dx with ADHD”!!!!!! I called my brother-in-law who was a h.s principal in another large city in CA. My brother-in-law assured me there must be some aberrant therapist labeling the kids in school. Hardly, this was the start of pathologizing kids’ behavior. I was so grateful my son didn’t have to go thru such judgement. But later in high school, as the ADD/ADHD craze had flourished for many years, my son began telling me “I think I have ADHD” which I tried sharing with him if he truly had this disorder it would have shown up in earlier years, not now. I think my son was perhaps feeling overwhelmed with school but didn’t or couldn’t share his feelings. And sadly, I have begun to process that his very social days in high school, the parties he attended may have definitely affected his young, developing brain. And I have to wonder since so many of his friends were being medicated with these stimulant drugs, it may have been easier for many of them to start with parties where underage drinking (more accurately “binge drinking”) was the norm. Even with strict curfew, appropriate consequences if the rules of our home were broken, my son and his many friends did engage as peer pressure became a force that was quite a battle for me, as a parent. We did have some challenges as my son wanted to do what he wanted, when he wanted which sometimes conflicted with the rules of our house. I always believed my son was “testing the waters” in high school, but we still believed he was ultimately a responsible teen and would keep himself out of harms’ way. And for the most part, we had no serious issues with him in high school, but I look back now and wonder since there was so much stimulants that so many kids were subjected to taking from early ages on, did this become a gateway for drug experimenting ? After my son had the first psychotic ‘episode’ two months after he married his long-term g-friend, at age 23, and it took 10 weeks for his brain to really “re-normalize” from what I believe was cannabis-induced psychosis (though the hospital labeled it “rule out bipolar one”) my son commented “Mom, I was so innocent in high school. Do you have any idea the things that kids were using back than?” Of course, I didn’t as I thought the party scene these kids engaged in-with alcohol- was outrageous considering they were minors. Only after his breakdown, did I become immersed in awareness how illicit drugs are soooo much more prevalent than I had fathomed. I wish while my son was alive I could have recognized he was so right. My son did not engage in the illicit drug scene while living at home with us, but the temptation upon moving out post high school- and his girlfriend who looked the perfect image of wholesome, eloquent, straight A student- was the one who apparently was actively engaged in using cannabis, and other hallucinogens even in her high school days. I truly lived in a world that knew so little about substance abuse, actually just never believed my son could get caught up in it. But sadly, he did and even though he was labeled “recreational” by the hospital records, how much started because of the reckless use of ADHD meds with this generation of kids? For me, it’s still too hard to accept my kid, who did not use ADHD meds, is gone.

  6. “persuaded by his pre-school teacher not to let him start kindergarten being just four years old”
    It was the same for me. My parents had an option to send me to school 1yr earlier but they declined and it was probably one of the best decisions they’ve made. I have never had any problem sitting in class and listening and concentrating on a task and was always a good student.

  7. I think this is a fine article, but like so many other such good articles on MIA, it is preaching to the choir. Notice that NO ONE disagreed with it. But out in the real world, there are many people who drug their children, and will defend that abuse vigorously.

    I find that I am saying this over and over again, but it needs to be said. We really need more discussion on MIA about tactics and strategy. How can we get some of the great stuff in MIA articles to the general public? How can we effectively get the abuses committed by psychiatry to end?

    Or to put it in a few words, less talk, more action.

    • Any ideas? I’ve been talking about this to my friends, family and pretty much everyone who wants to listen. I’ve shared on social media and fora, I’ve challenged “professionals” on the bs they are saying. But without an organised group there is only so much an individual can do. One needs grassroots organisations on a local level that people can join and work for on a daily basis not only twice a year when there’s a conference or a demonstration against APA or some other big event. I believe many people here are actually involved with some groups like that, maybe with a narrower focus but it’s still a great thing.

    • We could start with a PR campaign publicizing the fact that “ADHD”-diagnosed kids don’t do better on any significant long-term outcome measure than unmedicated kids, including academic test scores, high school completion, college enrollment, delinquency, drug use, teen pregnancy, social skills, or self-esteem. The biggest selling point used to coerce and manipulate parents into using these drugs is the mythology that “untreated ADHD leads to school failure, dropping out, delinquency” and so forth. If we can help the world see that “medication” positively effects NONE of these areas, a lot of people will make a different choice.

      Not sure what the means to accomplish that is, though. We need some kind of a funded, grassroots organization that can do PR and lobbying for this cause. Not my particular strong suit, unfortunately.

      —- Steve

    • Most Consumer/Survivor/EX groups are struggling for money. Money is missing from our movement.

      Getting donations from people who are living on poverty wages or fixed disability benefits is an uphill battle. Hiring attorneys, training attorney, hiring lobbyists, etc costs money and lots of it. I’m amazed at how few consumer organizations are self supported and not on the take from either government or big Pharma. MindFreedom may be the only one and MFI can only afford one single employee with a living wage.

      Most family members are funneling their donations into NAMI which is just a shill for pharma. Until this economic justice issue is for people with psychiatric labels is addressed, national leadership is not achievable. The gay rights movement is able to pay for national leadership, lobbying, legal services, etc because this movements can tap into the monetary wealth of its gay members, many of whom are successful in business, law, commerce, creative arts, etc.
      We must find ways of identifying a stable, national source of revenue and the way to do this is to raise the individual income of consumer/survivors.

      We need microenterprise education and support services targeting individuals with psyciatric labels, There is nothing really to boycott, (good luck calling for a national boycott of psychiatric medication) so we need to do the reverse of avoiding harmful products and services by starting a database of consumer/survivor owned businesses and steering the enormous population of disabled individuals to businesses owned by disabled individuals, and products, and services made by disabled individuals.

      This requires some bridgebuilding and reconcilation, since many survivors do not identify with being disabled. Pill takers and pill shunners and people with physical disabilities need to organize for economic development and justice together in unity. Poverty crosses lines and labels.

      For economic development, we need to target SBA loans to disabled individualsThe Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health addresses the need for focusing philanthropic activity into unbiased research. That is one leg of the three legged stool described by Jim Gottstein. I think that the missing leg he forgot to include is the economic justice leg of the movement. Without jobs and economic development, there are no donations to pay for the overhead required to launch a campaign of any magnitude, let alone jumpstart a political movement that continues to be disorganized and on the defense for decades and lacks independent advocacy for people whose citizen rights have been robed.

      The best work around I can think of to convince people who are unable to make monetary donations to donate their time, instead. We need to train volunteers to write press releases, write grants,write letters to their Senators, form coalitions, launch letter writing campaigns, contact their lo al media, leverage crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, lobby legislation, write letters to their local newspapers, and most of all, teach ins to train and develop leadership among people, who for years have been told what to do and how to think. Even people with high education, are often are shockingly ignorant of the history of social justice movements. People with a range of cognitive abilities can all do something, even if they lack organizing experience. It requires educations.

      People on disability have one advantage over people who are working low wage jobs. Time. Let’s start using that as an advantage.

      • banner drop outside school. Banner drop inside school. Banner drop outside pharmacy. Banner drop outside child and adolescent psychiatry unit. Banner drop inside child and adolescent psychiatry unit.

        Here are a couple of suggested slogans: ADHD IS BIOBABBLE and GET THE DRUG DEALERS OUT OF SCHOOLS

        Follow up with a public meeting and then set up a self help and advocacy group.

        Put it on facebook and ask people in other towns to follow suite.

        MIA has the info, we need some direct action to get the issue raised in the public consciousness

  8. Thank you Michael for the really interesting article. I have completed recently my PhD on ADHD drug holidays and published October last year (2014) a Review on the practice of drug holidays from ADHD medication in children and adolescents and found out (confirming your views) that they can be a useful multiple tool: identify the continuing need for ADHD medication and the ability of the CHILD to cope without the medication, manage the physical and psychological side-effects of medication, manage or avoid development of drug tolerance (the need to increase the dose continually to achieve the same effectiveness), and prevent drug-induced growth retardation. if interested please check my article:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25253684
    interestingly, although drug holidays could be helpful and carry no harm with its practice, many parents and practitioners seem to be not in favour of trying to stop the medication for a variety of reasons. Drugging children continues despite the fact that many of them experience really unpleasant and serious side-effects. Sadly improvement at school performance and behaviour is the main driver for keep medicating children.

  9. Many parents are either talked into or decide for one reason or another to stop their ADHD son’s or daughter’s ADHD medication during holidays. I try to discourage this practice and ask that they only discontinue their child’s ADHD therapy in cases of emergency, without first discussing their plans with me or my nurse.
    Why? Well…. Think of ADHD drugs as being sort of like a blood pressure pill (some are actually based on pills that lower blood pressure). Or say Insulin, both medications meant to be taken on a regular schedule.
    I have an article about it in my blog