America's Children Are Hooked on Whore Pills and Adderall

It's no secret that Americans love our prescription drugs; we'll take them for just about any reason. But when it comes to our children, we aren't always as enthusiastic about dosing them up. A new study is out from the FDA about what's being prescribed to kids and teens these days, and it reveals some surprising patterns. Overall prescriptions were down, but there was a whopping 93 percent increase in the number of birth control pills being prescribed, and also a significant increase in the amount of ADHD meds being handed out. So has the religious right's worst fear come true? Have we created a nation of hopped up whore pill addicts?

Umm, not exactly. The study, which was done by the FDA, used prescription data from 2002 to 2010 for kids up to the age of 17. All in all, researchers found there was a seven percent decline in the number of prescriptions written for kids. But even with the decrease, prescriptions in certain categories went way up—namely asthma meds, drugs for ADHD, and those ever-controversial birth control pills. The increase in asthma meds seems pretty straightforward, but the pictures behind the ADHD and contraceptive numbers are a little more complex.

The 93 percent increase in prescriptions for birth control is actually so unbelievable that I assumed it was a typo when I first read it. But, no, it's legit. How can that be if so many of our states are desperately trying to prevent our youth from even knowing the words "birth control pills"? Well, don't get too excited thinking all doctors have gone rogue and rejected the recent notion that taking the pill buys you a trip down the vagina-colored Slip 'N Slide that leads right down into hell—because, strangely, there has not been a corresponding increase in girls who report taking birth controls in national surveys. Wha? So then what explains the huge jump?

This massive increase may have to do, in part, with the fact that girls are simply staying on the pill for longer periods than they used to. Though another likely explanation is that the dreaded whore pills are being prescribed to the teens of America for non-contraceptive purposes, such as for the treatment of acne. Oooh. That actually makes total sense—and if it has the bonus side effect of giving girls who might not otherwise have it some control over their uteruses…then all the better! Nobody tell Rush Limbaugh about this, though, or we're going to see a truly ugly crusade against acne-prone teens.

As for the ADHD meds, there was a 46 percent increase in prescriptions, with Ritalin and Adderall topping the list. This is clearly related to the fact that ADHD diagnosis has jumped from 4.4 million kids in 2002 to five million in 2010, but doctors are also suggesting there's been a jump in prescriptions because the effectiveness of medications has improved so much in the last ten years. Still, we apparently use far more of these drugs than do people in other countries—a fact which should not surprise anyone who's spent any time on a college campus recently. Dr. Lawrence Diller, a pediatrician who is an expert in ADHD, told Reuters,

You have to look at how our society handles school children's problems. It's clear that we rely much, much more on a pharmacological answer than other societies do. The medicine is overprescribed primarily, but underprescribed for certain inner-city groups of children.

Stimulants: we are doing ‘em all wrong, but at least we're doing a lot of ‘em? Though there are plenty of prescription categories that went down significantly too, which are also interesting. Antibiotics are still the most frequently prescribed drugs for kids, since they are known cootie carriers. But their use did fall by 14 percent, largely as a result of the public health campaign to stop over-prescribing them. Prescriptions for allergy medications went down by a whopping 61 percent, but during this period a number of popular brands became available over-the-counter; so that likely explains the drop. Cough and cold meds were down by 42 percent, though similarly an FDA advisory was issued during this period saying that these drugs shouldn't be given to kids under two. Pain medication prescriptions declined as well, by 14 percent, and so did drugs used to treat depression, which went down by five.

Still, even with all the ups and downs, the seven percent drop in total prescriptions stands in marked contrast to the 22 percent increase seen in prescriptions for adults during the same time period. So, rest assured, even if these kids aren't on drugs now, they will be soon enough!

Prescriptions for ADHD Drugs Increasing, Says New FDA Research [ABC News]
Prescriptions for Kids: ADHD Meds and Birth Control Pills Are Up, Antibiotics Are Down [TIME]

Image by Jim Cooke, source photo via sagasan/Shutterstock.