Are We Over Medicating Our Kids?

As I was helping check kids in for a summer camp, I noticed the line for the nurse continued to grow longer and longer.  Even after we were done checking in around 250 kids (ages 9-12) the nurses line was still 30 people deep.

Each one had a zip lock bag with not one, but two or more medications.  In the end, the camp nurse mentioned that almost 50 parents dropped off medications that day and most were wanting their children to have at least 2 different kinds of medications to treat the same illness (for many it was sinus or allergies).  She shook her head and said it was too much.

I am sure if I asked any school nurse, I will get the same response.  I hate giving my kids medication of any kind.  My youngest went through 6 antibiotics as an infant fighting off horrible inner ear infections in 6-8 months.  Each one had different side effects and he became immune to most of them.  Not a good experience.  Permanent ear tubes fixed his inner ear infections for good, not the medications.

Then you have some parents who try to get their children on medication to help them focus better instead of providing discipline and structure (or what we call parenting).  But on the other hand, I don’t think that a majority of parents truly want to medicate their kids but they get frustrated with the situation, can’t find help or support, then turn to medication as a last resort.  I also know there are children who truly need medication to cope with learning and social challenges. 

What I find the most problematic is what are we teaching our children about medication and pill use?  In a day and age where drug and pill addition run rapid, why are so many youths on pills/medication?

I have entertained answers for parents and friends from time to time in the politest way I can.  Most of the time, they smile and say “oh its just allegories” or “he/she needs it to focus” but I don’t think very many parents are thinking of the patterns and examples they are setting for their children in how they consume, use, and possibly abuse medications.  Help me understand why a child with little to no illness, in good health, active and engaged, needs medicated or needs more than 1 medication to function? 

Function: what a word.  Many adults believe they cannot function without medication and their children watch the adults around them popping pills as they are lined up in pill boxes across the kitchen counter.  Then raise children to who then pop pills.  Did you know that it was reported in 2015 that 20.5 million Americans, ages 12 and over, reporting having a substance use disorder (reported by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2016 Opioid Addiction Facts and Figures at http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf)

 Raising kids in a pill culture is challenging.  Children should be taught to respect and use medication in a responsible way, not abuse it.  If you are a parent who has to take a number of pills for health reasons, talk to your children about what you are taking and why.  Share with them how they can AVIOD being in that same position and share with them the cost of medication (OMG a small fortune for many).  Help them understand the implications and correlation between healthy choices and healthy lifestyles equal (for most) less medical challenges.

Help your children understand the pros/cons of medication use.  I hope that the nurse’s line at camp, someday, will get shorter.

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