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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Choosing to Medicate A Child



Hi. My 8 yr old son was just prescribed Concerta and I have to be honest - I am terrified of a `brain altering` drug! Granted - I am also at my wits end with his behavior issues which have caused him to be thrown out of every daycare he has been in and trouble at every grade level, but I just need to feel warm and fuzzy as we begin this new path to help him. Any thoughts?


Hmmm. I am not sure it is ever productive to feel "warm and fuzzy" about any medication. Unfortunately, that will probably never be response you will or should have to any drug, although I certainly understand the longing for it.

You are responding to the fact that, yes, taking medication is a serious matter. And you are right, it is. That is why you need to talk with your doctor about the short and long term safety about any medication you give your son. Fortunately, methylphenidate (the medicine in Concerta) has been used in children more than 50 years so we know a lot about it's safety.

In terms of "mind altering", that has been proven with caffeine, TV and video games as well. Reading is "mind altering." Getting thrown out of daycare and being told over and over that one is doing terrible things is "mind altering" as well. All of these things have permanent effects. Some we understand. Many we do not.

Find a doctor you trust and speak with him/her about your concerns. Use that information to make a decision. It will likely be the right one if you take the time to get as much information as you can, try to keep an open mind, question weird claims you see on the net, keep up the questioning if it ends up he needs something different, and keep up the love.

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati