In the ‘80s and ‘90s, mainstream medicine, big pharma, and the public school system joined forces to “medicalize” common childhood behaviors — such as lack of focus, impulsivity, and high energy.
As a result, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) grew into an apparent epidemic among U.S. children. In fact, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 9.4 percent of children between ages two and 17 have been diagnosed with the disorder.
But in my view, ADHD isn’t a medical condition, but a behavioral characteristic that relates to a variety of environmental factors. And instead of prescribing more drugs to these poor children, we should be advocating for safer, drug-free alternatives.
Fortunately, there are four simple — yet effective — lifestyle changes you can encourage your child or grandchild to adopt before resorting to medication. I’ll share those with you in just a moment…
But first, I want to talk a little about how this ADHD epidemic began, and how it’s affected our society at large.
ADHD and stifling classrooms
I think the growing rates of preschoolers diagnosed with ADHD probably says more about the parents than the children. But it also says something about the environment in which they are raised.
For example, recent data shows that Arkansas and Kentucky have the highest ADHD rates. And in these states, 90 percent of children fish and 35 percent hunt. These children clearly spend a lot of time in Nature and aren’t used to being cooped up and sitting still inside all day long.
Not surprisingly, some struggle to pay attention in the stifling, artificial, “carpentered” spaces of classrooms.
In my view, humans simply weren’t designed to sit, work, or study in such artificial spaces. And many children, especially physically active children, aren’t “cut out” to be trapped all day in these confined, interior spaces.
But we expect them to. And when they don’t quite fit in, right away, public school bureaucrats, school psychologists, mainstream medicine, and big pharma all conspire to have a diagnosis at the ready — ADHD. For which these children are then numbed with medication — often for the rest of their lives.
Today, experts estimate that 3.5 million children (and 16 million adults) take stimulants like Ritalin® and Adderall® to control “symptoms” of ADHD.
It’s one of the worst medical scams of our time!
Furthermore, these irresponsible child psychologists and psychiatrists know how to get kids hooked on these drugs. But typically, they then don’t have action plans for weaning them off. And sadly, when these children turn 18, their doctors will typically claim that they don’t treat adults, forcing the patients to find another doctor. One who is unfamiliar with their full medical history (and subsequently, full-blown drug addiction).
So when these young adults go off to college, they’re still hooked on these drugs…and that’s where the tragedy continues…
ADHD drugs lead to more disasters
As a consulting forensic pathologist, I was retained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an expert witness in the case of a college student who was so high on drugs that he burned down his rental unit in Cambridge, killing innocent victims. The only drug found in his system? An ADHD drug. (He was also dealing the drug to other students for “recreational” use.)
To me, this sad story reflects a broken society that seeks instant solutions — one that forces children to conform by making them take unnecessary medication. (Of course, addressing the problem without drugs is a much more careful process, so why bother?) Parents and educators need to let kids be kids and find other solutions to address behavioral issues, rather than medicating away their shine, curiosity, and imagination.
The preventable consequences of medicating childhood behaviors
Often, the behavioral problems that were the targets of treatment in one’s childhood are never fully “remedied,” and continue right into adulthood.
Indeed, even after college, many young adults now still struggle to focus in work environments. Especially in the staid, mind-numbing, bureaucratic, and highly structured corporate and government workplaces. And I can’t blame them…
Of course, I always found it interesting to see which kind of people actually succeed in this kind of “carpentered” adult world. I came into contact with leading lights in business, medicine, philanthropy, and politics, and earlier in my career, I used to listen to the “higher-ups” to try to learn something about the secret of their success.
But in time I realized they often didn’t really have any special talent, creativity, or intelligence — unless you consider tolerating and perpetuating the mundane a talent. They succeeded in the highly unusual and unnatural environment of the modern, crony corporate or government world.
And not because they had something more than the rest of humanity, but rather, that they seemed to be missing something the rest of humanity has…
Something possessed by the real leaders and innovators of a century ago — such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan.
It’s been my personal blessing to come to know and count as a dear friend a direct descendant of J.P. Morgan. I’ve enjoyed learning about the “inside” story of J.P.’s basic decency, patriotism, and common sense for the greater good.
Although these days, it’s politically incorrect to praise these historic leaders who did far more through their business and philanthropic endeavors for the advancement of humanity than the adulated “industrial giants” of today.
To me, people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and the like are far more clueless, dangerous, and lacking a moral compass than any of the industrial and financial giants of 100 years ago.
A better solution for a child’s lifelong success
So what can you do to help your children or grandchildren grow into thoughtful, creative, and successful adults who won’t ever need a drug to remain focused? Here are a few simple guidelines:
- Get children outdoors in Nature as much as possible. It’s good for their minds, bodies, and spirits.
- Have them spend 15 to 30 minutes each day out in the sun, without sunscreen. They will be able to better absorb vitamin D. Research has found that getting enough of this essential nutrient during childhood often helps to prevent chronic disease later in life.
- Make sure they eat a balanced diet that contains wild-caught fish, grass-fed or grass-finished meat, and full-fat dairy. Research shows that the B vitamins, vitamin D, and omega-3 essential fatty acids found in these foods are critical for growing brains and cognitive performance in children. On the other hand, vegetarian diets place children at risk of these deficiencies. (I will tell you more about the importance of B vitamins later this month.)
Teach children about mindfulness meditation at a young age to help them improve their attention skills. You can learn more about mindfulness meditation in my book with Don McCown, New World Mindfulness.
When you think about it, these are good tips that we can all follow to improve our focus in the New Year!
“ADHD is a FAKE Disease Invented by Big Pharma to Drug Children for Profit,” Health Magazine (ehealthmagz.com) 7/12/2018
“Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder,” Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) 9/21/2018