Monday, January 30, 2012

ADD and Medications - No Long-Term Benefit?

A longitudinal study - in this case 200 children studied since 1975 - reveals that it is the environment of the child that predicts ADD, not brain differences. A different well-designed study, discussed below, shows no long-term benefits of medicating ADD. L. Alan Stroufe, the author of yesterday's New York Times Review article, Ritalin Gone Wrong, says:

To date, no study has found any long-term benefit of attention-deficit medication on academic performance, peer relationships or behavior problems, the very things we would most want to improve. Until recently, most studies of these drugs had not been properly randomized, and some of them had other methodological flaws. 
But in 2009, findings were published from a well-controlled study that had been going on for more than a decade, and the results were very clear. The study randomly assigned almost 600 children with attention problems to four treatment conditions. Some received medication alone, some cognitive-behavior therapy alone, some medication plus therapy, and some were in a community-care control group that received no systematic treatment. At first this study suggested that medication, or medication plus therapy, produced the best results. However, after three years, these effects had faded, and by eight years there was no evidence that medication produced any academic or behavioral benefits.

The article provides a lot of food for thought, especially in light of the recent near-panic surrounding an insufficent supply of the medications routinely used for ADD and ADDHD.

Neurofeedback provides an alternative to medication for children or adults. NeurOptimal®, the type of neurofeedback I use, is also virtually side effect free, which, of course, is not true of medication.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

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