Are we “solving” issues too quickly with medication, or just “kicking the can down the road” only now with more complications for a generation of today’s youth? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports 14% of Americans 12 years and older have been on medications for 10 years or longer. What effect, if any, is this having on adolescents and maturing young adults, and the educational system that’s serving them?
What is the purpose of medication? Clients, diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, tell us the medication helps them focus and pay attention. They can “get more done.” On the other hand, youth with no diagnosed medical conditions are taking the same medicines for similar reasons, possibly as a result of pressure to achieve.
Do these developments point to a growing culture of achievement no matter the cost? Has “well-rounded” shifted to “top-of-one’s-class-highest-possible-SAT-scores-and-captain-of-three-varsity-sports-per-year”? For both groups of youth altering their body’s physical responses, is there an inherited sense of “something’s wrong with my natural self”? How does this mindset affect achievement and learning now and in the future?
These questions may not have definitive answers. Yet, can help families deliberations, as they’re facing complex decisions in guiding their student’s education and future goals.