Freeman Gerhardt

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How will the effects of the systematic prescription of drugs/medication influence the behavior of American youth in the future?

It seems that the relative ease of diagnosing people with ADHD or other disorders and giving out medication will have future ramifications. Instead of treating disorders that may just be a result of immaturity, doctors and parents insist that drugs can solve these "problems." I don't know if this is a result of Americans believing that we can be the perfect nuclear family with no problems or some other issue. Giving teenagers powerful prescription drugs seems to lead to sleep disorders, and other biological nuances. I want to focus on the psychological issues of why drugs are issued with such ease and how this will be an important issue in upcoming years. These problems can lead to self medication and a future generation of unmotivated citizens. "Why study when adderall can help me out more?" As i am a college student, this is a conversation I hear consistantly.

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    Jan 8 2014: Hi Freeman and welcome to TED conversations!

    This is a great topic that needs to be addressed, and I believe we overmedicate way too much....sometimes, when the challenge can be resolved in other ways. It appears that this practice DOES have future ramifications.

    With my experience of volunteering with the dept. of corrections for about 6 years, I often heard offenders say...."I'm ADHD....what do you expect?" A lot of the incarcerated guys were given that label as young kids, and it "stuck" as an excuse for their criminal behaviors. Most of them are also drug and/or alcohol dependent (95% of those incarcerated), so I agree with you regarding self medication, unmotivated citizens, and over prescribing drugs.

    Why are drugs issued with such ease? I suggest that it seems easier for medical professionals AT THAT TIME, rather than trying to understand some of the underlying issues. I believe most of the behavior altering drugs seem to "calm" (sedate) the active kids.....causing unmotivated citizens and drug dependent adults? Seems like a logical conclusion to me!
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      Jan 8 2014: Your viewpoint is very prevalent to me! I am considering entering the field of criminal/prison psychology. The majority of inmates are in jail because of drug related issues. Almost everything can be traced back to a dependency or urge to get that next fix. It interests me how prisons are suppose to rehabilitate inmates, when in reality they come out worse and find themselves back in jail again. The paradox of this system needs to be changed in order for a prosperous future. I believe the prejudices people have against prisoners stops them from getting jobs, an maybe just as important, an unconscious self loathing leading them back to old habits and people who also have a similar mindset. Instead of punishing those who are addicted to drugs/alcohol I believe rehabilitation is actually much more beneficial and much cheaper. The whole prison system has more cons then pros. (No pun intended) Whether through the psychological effects attributed to power struggle among the inmates AND GUARDS, or the financial stress put on tax payers.
      The prison system is a whole separate conundrum but has its roots in the children finding ways to escape the reality of constant labeling. This leads me to another question of how can this labeling influence a persons future?
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        Jan 8 2014: Kudos to you Freeman for wanting to enter the field of criminal/prison psychology!!!

        YES....YES......YES to everything else you say!!! The paradigm DEFENETELY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED! You insightfully describe a cycle...drug issues...prejudices....self loathing/low self esteem/lack of confidence in themselves...old habits which they KNOW, and connections with people who have a similar mindset (goes back to what is known).

        All of those who are incarcerated were children at one you insightfully say...children finding ways to escape and survive. It influences the future of many people in our world Freeman. There are LOTS of wounded people in our world, who started out as loving, trusting, vulnerable little human beings.
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      Jan 9 2014: The irresponsible medication of our children will come back to haunt us.
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        Jan 9 2014: Precisely
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        Jan 9 2014: I agree Mike, and think we are already seeing the ramifications.
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          Jan 9 2014: Although I have not heard it confirmed, there were reports that some of the gunmen responsible for the recent mass shootings were or had been using these drugs. From what I have learned it it possible for a young person be given the drugs at an early age then subsequently removed and have effects surface years later. How many ticking time bombs could be out there..
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    Jan 8 2014: Our society has always been in the habit of finding the easiest way around a problem. Collectively, we have always preferred snake oils and other panaceas to cure us from our various ailments, real or perceived. The problem appears to be that nowadays we have some seriously dangerous drugs and "holistic" remedies for ailments that could simply be treated by living healthier lifestyles (eating healthier and getting enough exercise and sleep), or as you pointed out; letting kids grow up.

    I myself was diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager and was prescribed Dextroamphetamine. Basically, from the ages of 12 to 17 I was given a large dose of a powerful amphetamine and consequently suffered some serious side effects which had a huge impact on my life. My boring life story aside, I remain optimistic about the future. Given that many individuals from my generation were over-medicated as teenagers, I think we are going to see a backlash over prescription drugs, especially those used to treat the symptoms of being a kid.
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    Jan 8 2014: Hi Freeman,

    In your introduction you state: "I want to focus on the psychological issues of why drugs are issued with such ease and how this will be an important issue in upcoming years".

    We live in an era where "self-reliance" (read Ralph Waldo Emerson's talk of same title) is increasingly being re-interpreted as "earn enough money to pay others to fix you". This increases dependency and weakens one's mettle.

    The view that the body "is a machine" that can be fixed has grown out of scientific materialism, which now has almost God-like status across the world (at the very least it has the power of religion to sway people's minds).
    If you think your body is a machine, of course popping a pill to cure some apparent "defect" will become the normal way of behaviour and generally dealing with life (just like taking your car to a mechanic if it is making some kind of worrying rattle).

    This will get worse in upcoming years until we change our way of thinking about who, and what, we are. As beings with consciousness, we have huge latent power within, and it is our responsibility to try and develop that. {NB: all medicaments have so-called "side-effects", which are not actually side-effects, but central core effects of their use - one of which is to increase dependency on them. This is good for business if you're in the pharmaceutical industry}
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      Jan 8 2014: You brought up some very interesting points that I fully agree on. Materialism in society has almost been interchangeable with religion. Suppliers total control and marketing strategies spread just as religion does. I believe through the TV shows, movies, pop culture etc., we have believed that we are perfect creatures. Although this is what many of us strive to be, in many ways it is harmful. The mindset of being better than somebody separates people and cause entitlement issues when in fact we are all the same organism. Relating back to prescription drugs; people as you say desire a pill to cure an ailment so they can once again be perfect and better than some one else. Quite possibly, selfishness like this amplified by the consumer culture of today perpetuates emotions causing isolation. An easy way out, is not actually the easy way out. The journey is likely more important then the destination.
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        Jan 12 2014: "The journey is likely more important then the destination."
        I agree with this last comment of yours, but when I was your age I struggled with it; achievement and targets no matter how seemed much more appealing.
        About 30 years on I can say it is a case of "both/and". If you give the age old truths of "know thyself" and "to thine own self be true" their full due, the most complete inner journey that you can "achieve" leads to the best outer results - and in ways that is full of surprises and in some aspects way beyond one's imagined "best outcome"