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ADHD Disorder Drugs Don't Work


RUSH: From the Wall Street Journal: "Attention Deficit Disorder Drugs Don't Boost Kids' Grades."  And this story is delightful if you come from a certain perspective on this, which I do.  'Cause this story, they just can't figure out, they just don't understand why the drugs used by parents and teachers to tame these little boys, to take the little boy out of little boys, isn't working.  (gasping)  They don't know why.  They can't figure it out.  And I will help explain this in due course. 

You know, I suffer from the opposite of Attention Deficit Disorder.  I have Attention Surplus Disorder.  And sometimes I think it's worse than Attention Deficit Disorder, 'cause I know too much, and it works on my head.  Sometimes I think it'd be blissful to be ignorant of certain things.  So there's that. 


RUSH: Attention Deficit Disorder.  Not a problem for me.  I have Attention Surplus Disorder.  I never lose my place. I'm not hyperkinetic energy-wise.  You know, this whole ADD thing, and I've gotten in big trouble on this program 'cause from the moment it was first created as a disease, I was dubious.  And even longtime fans and longtime listeners of the program who were parents got mad at me because everybody wants to come up with some sort of a medical explanation for what they think is wrong with either themselves or their children, 'cause if there's a medical reason for it, then somehow, well, that's okay.  But if it's the result of a lack of parental discipline, for example, or just bunch of rotten kids, that's a problem.  But if the kids are rotten and the parents are not doing whatever because of a disease, well, then it makes it all okay.  And with every new disease comes a new drug or a series of drugs. 

But in this case, this ADD stuff, you know what bothered me about it was?  It was a bunch of schoolteachers who didn't know what to do with energetic boys, and that was considered to be bad.  These boys, they wanted to go out and pretend they were GI Joe instead of sitting in class and learning, and they wanted to be out playing football and they'd get all fidgety in there and they wouldn't learn and maybe pull the pigtails of the girl sitting in front of 'em. Oh, my God, we can't have that so they had to come up with some way to tame them. They had to come up with some way to take the little boy out of little boys.  And how do you do that?  You zone 'em out.  And zoning 'em out was supposed to refocus their attention 'cause it was scattered.  It was all over the place, but it wasn't on the teacher and it wasn't on learning.  Well, it was on the teacher sometimes, but that's another subject. 

They weren't focused on learning, and so their grades weren't very good. So we had to do something.  We have to calm 'em down. We have to tone 'em down. We have to tame 'em out there. We have to sit 'em there basically sitting like zombies from the Walking Dead except they look normal.  And that was going to lead to massive scholastic improvement, and everything was gonna be hunky-dory, and it was gonna be wonderful, except it wasn't and isn't. 

The Wall Street Journal headline: "ADHD Drugs Do Not Boost Kids' Grades," and they're just devastated out there.  They just can't figure out how all of these drugs used by parents and teachers to tame little boy after little boy is not improving their grades.  That's right.  Four million kids are on ADD drugs, four million.  Actually, I'm kind of surprised it's that low.  I know some of you are getting mad at me right now.  I know it.  I can hear you. You're shouting at your radio. You're getting mad, "Come on, Rush, it's real, it happens. My kid's got it. It's a real problem, Rush."  I know you're out there. I know you feel this way.  And there may be instances of abnormality that is explainable by virtue of something that is pharmacological or medical, whatever, something other than just human nature.  I understand that, but this was an effort to paint everybody that behaved in a certain way with a disorder. 

Anyway, this is how the story begins.  "It's no longer shocking to hear of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder -- and others simply facing a big test -- taking ADHD medicine to boost their performance in school. But new studies point to a problem: There's little evidence that the drugs actually improve academic outcomes. Stimulants used to treat ADHD like Ritalin and Adderall --" Let me ask you a question.  I know you're all familiar with drug testing in professional sports.  Does it give you pause when you learn that one of the most used drugs in professional sports, the NFL, is Adderall, and that your kid is on it, and that the league bans its use? 

largeSecond, Ritalin.  Some players, because they believe what's been said about ADHD and Ritalin and focus, we're talking about just versions of amphetamines here, all to combat what, in the old days, was just normalcy.  "Stimulants used to treat ADHD like Ritalin and Adderall are sometimes called 'cognitive enhancers' because they have been shown in a number of studies to improve attention, concentration and even certain types of memory in the short-term." And there are a lot of college kids trying to get hold of Adderall before a big final. Or anybody in any business tries to get a hold of it.  Writers do this.  Writers try to find it for focus as they approach the deadline.

"Similar drugs were given to World War II soldiers to improve their ability to stay alert while scanning radars for enemy aircraft. However, a growing body of research finds that in the long run, achievement scores, grade-point averages or the likelihood of repeating a grade generally aren't any different in kids with ADHD who take medication compared with those who don't. ... According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 2.7 million kids were taking medication for ADHD in the U.S. as of 2007." But it's up to four million now.  It's higher than that now. 

"The lack of academic benefit has been surprising because the drugs seem to have the potential to improve memory, among other cognitive skills. For instance, Claire Advokat, a professor emerita in the psychology department at Louisiana State University, and her colleagues found in a small study that episodic memory -- memory for experiences -- improved when kids with ADHD took relevant medication. 

"Children with ADHD not taking stimulants did far worse than kids taking medication in tasks that involved remembering scenes from a story they both heard and saw illustrated. Kids taking medication did just as well as control children without ADHD. ... But the effects largely don't seem to translate into the classroom, especially in the long run. ... For the first year of the study, the 8- and 9-year-old children who received medication and a combination treatment saw greater improvements in ADHD symptoms than the other two groups," but not in their grades. In people without ADHD, there is even less information about whether stimulants lead to any improvement in quality of life overall. 

So the upshot of this is that the drugs work in altering behavior in certain ways, promoting it in ways that are desirable or not, but it doesn't lead to improved grades, and they can't figure out why.  Could it be the kids are not studying?  Could it be they're not learning the material?  Could it be they're not doing their homework?  I have experience with that.  Boys not doing their homework.  It's a national crisis, I tell you.


RUSH:  I have a test.  I have my own test for ADHD.  I realize, folks, it's a controversial subject out there, and I don't have kids, so it's probably easier for me to discuss this, obviously it is, dispassionately, than those of you who have children who the doctor said, "Yep, they got it."  But I have a simple test.  Can the child sit and play video games for hours and hours?  And if so, I don't think they got ADHD.  Would that be pretty safe assumption?  Would an ADHD kid sit there and play video games for six hours in a row or five or three? 



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