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Under the foster care system, many children and teenagers in the United States have been adopted and have been successful in gaining a permanent home. However, this process is not as smooth as it might sound since there are children who live with several families before finally getting a permanent home. Consequently, due to different backgrounds, lifestyles, and culture, some of these children find it difficult to cope with their new families.
As a result, they experience physical and psychological stress that might result in the development of adverse behaviors that affect them and the individuals around them. To overcome this problem, psychiatrists have been using psychiatric drugs to suppress and cure disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. This has greatly increased the use of psychiatric drugs on children and adolescents since the 1990s (Vitielo and Jensen, 1997).
Safety of Psychiatric Drugs
According to Eig (2012), medication is an effective measure of treating psychiatric problems in children and teenagers. However, there are parents who are worried about the long-term effects that psychiatric drugs have on their. Under normal circumstances, only qualified physicians have the mandate to of prescribing antipsychotic.
Moreover, such physicians should have the experience of dealing with mental illness in children and adolescents. Administration of these drugs should only be done after precise diagnosis have been made. This enables psychiatrists to determine the type of treatment that a patient might require.
As a result, a psychiatrist will be in a position of developing a comprehensive treatment plan for the patient. At this point, a psychiatrist might decide to administer antipsychotic drugs to control and cure the condition that a patient is suffering from. It is the duty of psychiatrists to explain why they have administered antipsychotic drugs to their patients. Consequently, psychiatrists should inform their patients about the possible effects that the drugs might have on them.
Different medications have different side effects. Some of these side effects are mild while others are severe. Therefore, to ensure that the administration of antipsychotic drugs achieves the desired goals, psychiatrists should always be in close contact with their patients.
Consequently, parents should avoid switching from one psychiatrist to another. If antipsychotic drugs are administered in this manner, there are high chances that their effects will be beneficial to patients. However, if unqualified physicians administer these drugs without proper diagnosis, their effects might be detrimental to the health of the patients. Most importantly, it is advised that the administration of antipsychotic drugs should be supplemented by alternative modes of treatment such as psychological therapy.
Over Prescription of Antipsychotic Drugs
Prior to the 1990s, a small proportion of children and teenagers were under the prescription of antipsychotic drugs (Szalavitz, 2012). However, this trend has changed since the numbers of children under prescribed antipsychotic drugs keeps on increasing.
Despite this trend, many psychiatrists have admitted that there are physicians who overprescribe these drugs to children. All the children who were featured in the video were under more than one antipsychotic drug at any given time. For instance, when Mark met his father, he was using over five different antipsychotic drugs. His father later learned that he had been prescribed with over 26 different antipsychotic drugs in his life.
These drugs had adverse effects on his physical and mental health since most of these drugs are administered without proper diagnosis. For instance, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Mark was administered with five different antipsychotic drugs. However, it was later found that he was suffering from ADHD, a condition that only required one drug for treatment. It is through such negligence that antipsychotic drugs are prescribed to children when they might actually not need them.
Who is Responsible?
Due to negligence, physicians tend to prescribe antipsychotic drugs without proper diagnosis. Most physicians view the alternatives to antipsychotic drugs as energy and time consuming. Therefore, prescribing antipsychotic drugs not only eases their work but also ensures that they have more time to attend to other patients hence earning more money.
Pharmaceutical companies on the other hand have launched marketing campaigns that have led to the successful introduction of second-generation drugs called atypical antipsychotics that are sold off the label in the market (PBS Video, n.d.). Once in the market, physicians can use these drugs to treat various mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD. In 2009, the sale of these drugs earned pharmaceutical companies over $2 billion in revenue. Thus, over prescription on this ground is profit driven.
Other than drugs, there are alternative treatments that can be used to control and cure mental illness in children and adolescents. Cognitive mental therapy, psychotherapy, and parent training are some of the alternatives that can be used to treat mental illness in children and adolescents (Vitielo and Jensen, 1997).
Physicians are aware of these alternatives but because they are time consuming and do not earn physicians a lot of money, they are always avoided. This trend explains the increased consumption of antipsychotic drugs by children and teenagers in the United States.
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Eig, A. (2012). Psychiatric Medication and Young Children: Is There too Much Pill Popping? Web.
PBS Video (Executive Producers). (n.d.). The Medication for Foster Children. Need to Know, PBS Video.org. Web.
Szalavitz, M. (2012). Antipsychotic Prescriptions in Children Have Skyrocketed: Study. Web.
Vitielo, B. and Jensen, P. (1997). Medication Development and Testing in Children and AdolescentsCurrent Problems, Future Directions. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 54(1), 871-876.