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How ADHD Became Big Industry


Hands Up if any of these things describes your kids, you as a kid, or kids you know: inability to wait for a turn; temper tantrums; fidgeting; inability to finish chores; being too loud; being too quiet. Congratulations! The kid in question might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and he (and it’s a he twice as often as it’s a she) can take medication to “normalize” him.

ADHD drugs are a $13 billion industry in the United states, and ADHD is now the second most-common childhood diagnosis. But, even though the long term effects of these amphetamines on the childhood brain are unknown, the numbers will probably continue to rise: The American Psychiatric Association, which has recently expanded the criteria for ADHD diagnosis, receives 20 to 30 percent of its funding from pharmaceutical companies.