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ADHD Guidelines Need Reviewing In New Zealand

ADHD Guidelines Need Reviewing In New Zealand

Bias research, drug company funded experts and severe drug reactions surround changes to ADHD guidelines in Australia; and New Zealand is being urged to follow suit.

"We need to take a good look at our healthcare system when it resorts primarily to giving children powerful drug stimulants for behavioural issues," said Steve Green, director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

With serious adverse effects from drugs given to children, the Australian Government's new ADHD guidelines propose a more holistic approach to treating children and not to rely on drugs as the first line of treatment and include behavioural strategies, psychosocial techniques and nutritional changes. Their recommendations also include never using drugs as a first-line treatment in preschoolers, which has support with NZ charities.

New Zealand's current guidelines, released in 2001, recommended stimulant drugs calling it the single most useful intervention for ADHD. Yet cost seemed to be a driving factor and questions are now being raised about possible conflicts of interest and poor research in light of the Australian experience.

"What is not being confronted is that the stimulants given to children for ADHD are themselves addictive and come with numerous side-effects and adverse reactions which are at times life-threatening," said Mr Green.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act in Australia showed adverse reactions being reported such as a 5 year old having a stroke; others experienced suicidal ideation, depression, rage attacks, aggression, stunted growth and one child even started ripping finer and toe nails out. (See attached)

Ritalin, one of the most common ADHD drugs, also has a street value and is often dealt in schools for $20 a tablet, so there is the added element that its use promotes drug use and drug addiction.

"The biochemical model of psychiatric treatment has proven to be flawed and based on unscientific theories such as chemical imbalances in the brain, a claim still yet to be proven by any medical tests. Psychiatrists still cannot determine what a normal chemical balance would look like let alone an imbalance," Mr Green said.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, established by the Church of Scientology, has campaigned against abuse within the mental health field including exposing the use of shock treatment on children in Lake Alice psychiatric hospital in the 1970s for which the NZ Government paid out over $12 million in compensation to 200 former patients.

"We need to be looking at best practice and parental full-informed consent when it comes to treating children. Giving them powerful drugs with potentially life-threatening adverse reactions is not the direction we should be going in. The psychiatric abuses of children today are devastating to families and become potential liabilities in the future, not only in drug dependency but also in future legal claims," said Mr Green.

The Commission, who has been working with victims of abuse in New Zealand for over 30 years, warns that no one should stop taking any psychiatric drug without the advice and assistance of a competent medical doctor.


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