Know the Risk Before Putting Kid on Medication

Our use and dependence on drugs is strongly rooted in our instinct to avoid suffering. Much in the same way that no one wants to experience pain; we will gladly pop a pill to avoid negative emotions like anxiety and sadness, or even more intensified feelings like rage and compulsion.
Drugs are powerful, fast-acting, and bring us relief. So it’s no wonder that as a parent, you would consider giving your child medication to end their suffering. You should never feel guilty about wanting to find the fastest way to help your child. Yet too often, a parent’s fear can lead to a rush in judgment.
Before you decide anything, take a deep breath and explore your options. This is especially important when considering the use of medication to help your child deal with an emotional or behavioral problem.

Common Risk of Medicating Kids

  • Age, development, nutrition, stress, and toxins are all factors that can influence brain health and how drugs are broken down in a child’s body. These factors can determine what kinds of side effects your child may experience; whether it’s a mild allergic reaction and weight gain or a more serious side effects like insomnia, liver damage, or seizures.
  • Children can also become dependent on a drug and adopt the belief that they need the drug to function. That’s why psychoactive drugs are known as gateway drugs, meaning they often lead to the use or abuse of other prescription medications or illicit drugs.
  • Perhaps the biggest risk is that there are no guarantees that the medication will work. They may offer temporarily relief but most drugs lose effectiveness over long periods of use. Not to mention that medications only address the symptoms and don’t actually cure, fix, treat, or heal the underlying cause of symptoms.

What You Can Do

  • You are the parent and that title gives you the responsibility and the right to make decisions that are in your child’s best interest. To do that, you’ll need to get access to the right information. That means finding service providers who can educate you without judgment, intimidation, pressure, or monetary motives.
  • Ultimately, you want to create a team of trusted, supportive, knowledgeable professionals who understand the importance of taking an integrative, holistic approach to health care. I know that fear and frustration can push you to make impulsive or panicky decisions, but try not to rush to action without thoughtful consideration of all your options.
  • Your initial thought may be to seek treatment from your family doctor or general practitioner. I ask you to consider this—doctors specialize for a reason. You wouldn’t go to the dentist for that suspicious mole on your back. Something as important as your child’s mental health deserves specialized care. Review your insurance coverage and try to find a therapist or child psychologist for an assessment. You don’t need to start off seeing a psychiatrist. If you decide later to try drug therapy, your therapist or psychologist will refer you.
  • Focus your research on therapists who work exclusively or mainly with children.
  • Confirm their education and experience, but more importantly, watch how they engage your child. Is there chemistry? Are they empathetic and encouraging? Does your child feel comfortable with the therapist? Are they answering your questions?
  • Be confident and direct. Remember that you are the expert on your child. Your child needs you to be their advocate. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right and they are reaching for the prescription pad ten minutes into your visit, recognize that this is not who you need. Your child’s emotional well-being deserves the highest quality of treatment.
 For more parenting tips and useful information to help you make important decisions read my book Empowered Parenting.Subscribe to my newsletter to get posts like these right in your inbox.

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