Ever had a friend jump from one subject to another and then explain their distraction by joking that they have ADHD?

The fact that lots of us have indicates how commonplace the ADHD diagnosis has become. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 11 percent of children were diagnosed with the condition by 2011.


But as a newly released book explains, genuine ADHD cases may not be as bad as we’ve been told, and may instead be a cover-up for other problems. At least, that’s the conclusion Dr. Keith Conners, the psychologist who once encouraged Ritalin and “put ADHD on the medical map,” has come to.

As ADHD Nation explains, Dr. Conners has grown increasingly concerned about the increasing number of ADHD diagnoses in recent years. In addition to research, Dr. Conners recently visited a “substance use facility” and spoke with many young people who began their addiction problems because of ADHD drugs. After visiting the institution, Dr. Conners wrote the following to a friend:

“They invited me to meet with several of the residents, all teenagers. Many of the young women were very frank in feeling that ADHD did not explain their problems, most of which seemed to them to grow out of family conflicts, not necessarily medical problems needing a drug therapy. One handsome young man … felt that their addictive behavior and personality came first. One cited the problems caused by a depressed mother & how he used the drug to rouse him from apathy. And so on.

A constant theme was the brief and casual way in which parents and physicians seemed to latch on to the diagnosis, with little attempt to sort out the complicating specific problems in their life.

Dr. Conners’ observations should give us pause. We live in an age where family breakup, busy parents, and concerns about the self-esteem of a child reign supreme. Is it possible that much of the negative behavior we see from children is environmental and not the result of an ADHD epidemic that needs to be treated with drugs? Is society relying too much on pill popping and not enough on parenting?

Image Credit: Natural Blaze