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With the number of diagnoses and prescriptions on a twenty-year rise, these days, having a kid with ADHD is no longer outside the norm. Still: there's plenty of disagreement over the nature of the diagnosis itself, when medication can help kids, and when other approaches might be better. 

This program was originally broadcast on January 19, 2016.

ADHD On The Rise

Jul 24, 2013

Almost one-in-ten New Hampshire children is diagnosed with some type of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, putting us around the middle of the pack nationally.  But those numbers may rise  as New England and New Hampshire show a particular predilection toward labeling our kids with ADHD.    These expected increases have once again raised a long, ongoing conversation here about what this disorder is, and what it isn’t, about whether too many children are diagnosed or if some kids in some demographic groups are under-diagnosed. And what about the role of drugs?

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Over the past decade, psycho-stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin have crossed over from treatment for people diagnosed with ADHD to black market cognitive enhancement.  Studies show that as many as one in three students have been diagnosed with ADHD or used ADHD medications illicitly as a study aid. The demand has led to shortages of the meds in pharmacies across the country and questions about addiction and dependency.  Will Oremus, staff writer for wrote about his own experience with ADHD drugs, and the somewhat arbitrary nature of what is legal­--coffee and nicotine--and what is illicit.