(PRWEB) June 29, 2012
With a 46 percent increase in prescriptions for drugs treating ADHD (Reuters, June 18th http://on.msnbc.com/MUJIlK), family therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil worries that kids are using these drugs to get ahead in school - which she sees as a form of cheating - and that this narcissistic behavior could lead to bullying. "What is this world coming to when we're trying to get kids to center on themselves, to compete so strongly, and to feel like they have to turn to medication for help doing this instead of looking inside themselves as a way to do better?" Dr. Bonnie wonders. She suggests it has to do with our quick-fix disposable society - adults self-medicate and take things like Ambien, and are passing on their legacy of how to cope with stress.
Dr. Bonnie believes this shows a break down in how families deal with stress and support one another and points out that this type of behavior is a form of cheating. Perhaps parents and kids are worried because competition is soaring - they feel they have to over-perform to get into good schools or find a good job. But Dr. Bonnie cautions: "There isn't much difference between this and getting someone to impersonate the student to take the test. Both are cheating by enhancing the student's ability. What kind of message is society sending these kids when they feel this type of pressure to excel and perform to the point where they take drugs and self-medicate to get ahead at school?"
This form of cheating is especially dangerous because students probably don't even know they're doing it. It's so subtle and they are worried about excelling in school due to societal, parental, and competitive pressures from other students which can be wrapped up in the student's self-worth based on the school they get into.
When Dr. Bonnie treats adult patients who self-medicate they are frequently suffering from a biochemical craving for connection - a disorder that pushes them toward a thrill-seeking high and often plays out in alcoholism, financial infidelity, affairs, or other types of addiction. "Seeing prescription drug addiction in teens is troubling at such a young age and the fact that they're engaging in this behavior in order to outperform their peers in school can show a misguided ambition," says Dr. Bonnie.
Because teen's brains aren't fully developed, they aren't as fully equipped to deal with the type of pressure they may face at school and at home. Parents shouldn't think of kids as a reflection of themselves, and put all the pressure of their hopes and dreams onto their child. Children need more love and connection with their families - kids in this situation are lost and they need help. "This is where a healthy support system comes in," says Dr. Bonnie, "It's important to encourage kids to be the best they can be. However, it's more important that they are healthy, happy, and able to manage their stress."
If these students are coming from environments where parents self-medicate and turn to addiction, it follows that this behavior will influence the teens. For this reason, Dr. Bonnie emphasizes the importance of learning how to deal with stress, separation, and loss as a family. "These factors are enough to push adults into addiction, how much more so for kids!" she explains. In order to mitigate any self-medicating or thrill-seeking behavior on the part of the teen, Dr. Bonnie suggests families do a few simple things:
To see Dr. Bonnie talking more about stress, body, and mind, click here: http://youtu.be/vOIomp6CHSo
Plus check out her book Make Up Don't Break Up which teaches families to connect, and how to handle feelings of emptiness without self-medicating.