October 2012

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WA Stimulants Regulatory Scheme 2011 Annual Report contains both good and bad news. The good news is that the 2011 report confirms there has been a massive decline in per-capita prescribing rates for children since the Stimulant Regulatory Scheme was introduced in mid-2003. However, the bad news is that there was a spike in the number of new cases diagnosed in 2011.

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Stephen Colbert’s ‘Meducation’ plan for America’s third rate public schools – Don’t laugh too hard it is already happening!

A video and transcript of Colbert’s ‘Meducation’ rant is available at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/11/1143009/-Stephen-Colbert-on-medicating-children-to-improve-their-grades

On October 10 2012 American comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term “meducation” to describe the growing practice of drugging with ADHD amphetamines, American children with mediocre school grades, who do not have a diagnosis of ADHD.The catalyst for the mock right wing political commentator’s endorsement of ADHD drugs as smart pills was a front page article in the New York Times in which peadiatrician Dr Michael Anderson advocated their widespread use to compensate for America’s third rate public education system. Doctor Anderson said “we’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.” Unlike Colbert, Dr Anderson is not a comedian but unfortunately for some of the children of Ganton Georgia he is their doctor.

In his comedic monologue Colbert argues the child drugging program should be extended beyond amphetamines. “Folks, I believe this is a great fiscally responsible answer, but we can do more.  I mean, we might be cutting arts programs, but one tab of acid, and your kid will be seeing colours you can’t find in a Crayola box.” Colbert’s mock rant concludes with a serious warning; “Now, of course, eventually it may turn out that drugging poor students creates more problems than it solves.  In which case, we’ll have to stop trying to change our children, and think about changing ourselves.”

Despite Dr Anderson’s claims and Colbert’s mock endorsement, ADHD amphetamines are anything but ‘smart drugs’. Unique long term (8 year) Australian research shows that children diagnosed ADHD and ‘ever medicated’ with amphetamines were a staggering 950% more likely to be rated by their teacher as “performing below age-level” than children diagnosed with ADHD and ‘never medicated’. (see http://speedupsitstill.com/2010/02/17/excerpts-from-the-raine-study/ ) And as pointed out by Colbert the USA, the home of ADHD child drugging, lags most comparable developed nations (and a few second world nations) in terms of academic achievement.

The message is pretty clear – if you want to dumb down – speed up!

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“Personalities, rhetoric and charisma are driving the direction of mental health rather than science and evidence.” (Martin Whitely MLA, Parliament of Western Australia, 25 September 2012)

Related Media

Sue Dunlevy, News Limited Sunday papers, 7 October 2012, Doubts cast on youth mental health program. Available at  http://www.news.com.au/national/doubts-cast-on-youth-mental-health-program/story-fndo4eg9-1226489760605

Also see Patrick McGorry’s ‘Ultra High Risk of Psychosis’ training DVD fails the common sense test http://speedupsitstill.com/patrick-mcgorrys-ultra-high-risk-psychosis-theory-fails-common-sense-test

MARTIN WHITELY (Trancript of speech in the Legislative Assembly, Parliament of Western Australia, 25 September 2012): I want to use this opportunity to talk about some very serious concerns I have about the direction of the mental health policy in Australia. My basic contention is that personalities, rhetoric and charisma are driving the direction of mental health rather than science and evidence.

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By Martin Whitely MLA

The off colour Australian colloquialism ‘you can’t polish a turd but you can cover it in glitter’ is a fitting analogy for the danger of legitimising ADHD as a diagnosable mental illness by developing treatment guidelines. However, treatment guidelines are being developed and the more conservative the treatment guidelines, the fewer children risk damage with the long-term administration of amphetamines.

That is why I welcome the release by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of the Australian ADHD Clinical Practice Points (CPPs) as a small but significant step in the right direction. (The CPPs available at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/mh26_adhd_cpp_2012_120903.pdf )

Eventually ADHD will be regarded as an embarrassing footnote of history and society will collectively wonder how anyone ever thought it would be a good idea to give amphetamines to children. But in the meantime improvements like those in the ADHD CPPs, although modest, will hopefully see fewer children diagnosed and drugged.

That said, the CPPs are far from perfect. The statement that, “…stimulants might be considered for this age group (under 7 years)” leaves the door open for drugging very young children.[1] The manufacturers prescribing information for all stimulants state they should not be used in children under 6 years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established.[2] Any clinician ignoring the manufacturers warning is inviting a future law suit for negligence.

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