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Monday, June 11, 2012

drugs, school testing, ADHD, and baseball

This column was to be about (sort of)  baseball. (For my non-US readers you can keep reading. All you need to know is that baseball requires athletic ability.)
I heard the announcer (Ron Darling from Yale - a student when I was a professor there, say that 100 major league baseball players had been diagnosed with ADHD and were now receiving treatment. He mentioned that one of them (who plays for the Mets the team I follow and the team for he announces) was doing much better this year now that he had been diagnosed an treated for ADHD.

This is so sad and was said in such a matter of fact way that it needed a response. Players are doing better because they are being given speed. It focusses them. I am sure it does. What I am not sure about is why this isn't a scandal.

Baseball went through a terrible scandal when it was discovered that its best players were taking steroids. They were quickly banned. Why not ADHD drugs?

And then yesterday the New York wrote this on its front page:

Kids are getting themselves ADHD drugs to help them do better on tests. Here is a paragraph of that article:

The drug was not cocaine or heroin, but Adderall, anamphetamine prescribed forattention deficit hyperactivity disorder that the boy said he and his friends routinely shared to study late into the night, focus during tests and ultimately get the grades worthy of their prestigious high school in an affluent suburb of New York City. The drug did more than just jolt them awake for the 8 a.m. SAT; it gave them a tunnel focus tailor-made for the marathon of tests long known to make or break college applications.

Here is another:

At high schools across the United States, pressure over grades and competition for college admissions are encouraging students to abuse prescription stimulants, according to interviews with students, parents and doctors. Pills that have been a staple in some college and graduate school circles are going from rare to routine in many academically competitive high schools, where teenagers say they get them from friends, buy them from student dealers or fake symptoms to their parents and doctors to getprescriptions.

And I was getting upset about baseball!

We have created a society where is not ok to be bored in school (or you will diagnosed with ADHD and drugged into submission.) This has extended itself into sports were it is also OK to be drugged into focussing better apparently.

Now I don't really care if we want to make sick monsters of our athletes. Their choice. So they will hit the ball further. No one's issue but their own.

But when we have so many kids worried about getting good grades and getting into good colleges that we have made them crazy enough to drug themselves in order to do it, we have the makings of a very sick society.

I have been writing about the evils of ADHD diagnosis for 20 years and about the evils of testing for the same amount of time (at least).

I never made the connection before. Its almost as if the testing companies and the drug companies were in collusion. Nah. Not possible, right?

I sure hope not.