It's only fair to share…

Group of young teenagers jumping over white

Would it be big news if one third of athletes felt that using performance-enhancing drugs was not a form of cheating? Would this be even bigger news if 20% admitted doing so? I think it would be. Many people would be outraged. There would be calls for action and a “clean up”.

But when it comes to study or academic pursuits we apply a different morality.

A survey has found that one third of Ivy League college students did not consider misuse of stimulant medications before exams was cheating and 20% admitted to having done so. It does not make the news. Nobody is outraged and there is no call for any action.

Is it just me or have we collectively lost the plot somewhere.

We go to extraordinary lengths to stop athletes using any substance, which might make them, run faster or jump higher. Blood samples are tested and kept for ten years in case new tests can be found that will detect that which cannot be detected today. Any athlete caught using substance faces bans, fines and public castigation. Witness the fall of Lance Armstrong who has admitted systematically using substances to make him pedal faster over many years.

If he was studying at University and using substances to help get a better grade then all would be well with the world. He might even get sympathy for having a “disorder”.

The ADHD bandwagon is fully out of control.

The latest thought bubble to emerge from academia ( and funded by drug manufacturers) is “sluggish cognitive tempo” which it is estimated affects some two million American children. These are in addition to the six million children (11% overall and 20% of teenage boys) diagnosed with ADHD.

Sluggish cognitive tempo is characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. If it tales a child a bit longer to grasp a concept then this is no longer just them being themselves- it is a disorder needing drugs.

Apply the same logic to those who run slower. They also could have a disorder called “sluggish athletic tempo”. It is not just that some children run faster than others, one group has a disorder. Likewise those who are at the shorter end of the height spectrum could have “sluggish height tempo”.

It should not come as a surprise that most of the conditions supporters have financial ties to the makers of ADHD drugs. These same “researchers” are claiming that the question about the existence of sluggish cognitive tempo seems to have been “laid to rest”.

A spokesperson for Eli Lilly, makers of ADHD medication told the New York Times that “Sluggish cognitive tempo is one of many conditions that Lilly scientists continue to study to help satisfy unmet medical needs around the world”.

Rule number one of marketing drugs is to first create the condition. This is well demonstrated in this excellent piece on selling ADHD. Basically reclassify certain traits or behaviors as a condition, get some well-paid experts to sprout about the dangers of the condition being untreated and then sell the cure.

Watch this satirical video on Despondex for cheerfulness to see just how easy it is.

And to broaden the market even further it has been floated that ADHD drugs be used to treat menopause.

Whilst it is easy to get angry about the continued medicalization of life in general and our children in particular, all may not be lost. Professor Allen Francis has written that we may be approaching a tipping point.

The sheer number of children being labeled and drugged has reached a point where it manifestly fails the common sense test. How can one in five boys have a disorder when no other generation has been afflicted? And there is a gradually increasing societal concern at the wholesale prescription of addictive stimulant medication. This is compounded by the diversion of these drugs onto the street and the widespread “recreational” or “performance enhancing” use.

Medicine claims to be highly scientific. Often it is not. It is prone to fads. This is most pronounced in psychiatry. To quote Allen Francis “The ADHD fad will fade because all dumb psychiatric fads eventually fade”.

He then quotes Abraham Lincoln ““You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time” and conclude we will soon be at a tipping point.

Let us both hope he is correct and do our bit to help make it happen by rejecting nonsense diagnoses in normal children.