“The Psychiatric Drugging of America’s Foster Children” – Dr. Peter Breggin

“Drugging traumatized foster children shoves them under society’s rug and is in no way therapeutic for the child. There are humane and effective approaches to helping our most vulnerable children.” — Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist

Psychiatrist Peter Breggin writes for The Liberty Beacon:

The most vulnerable among us are the littlest victims. Young children, torn from their birth families through various, often unspeakable tragedies. These children end up in state supervised foster care and too often are passed from hand to hand, house to house. There were approximately 662,000 children in foster care in the United States in 2010.

Now there is a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report confirming that foster children in five states — Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas — are receiving shocking amounts of psychiatric drugs. In the words of ABC News, they are “being prescribed psychiatric medications at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone. And hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together.” The ABC News report shows one 7-year-old holding a bag filled with 13 psychiatric medications that she had taken.

During the FDA drug-approval process, the maximum dose of a drug is determined by giving that drug by itself without any other psychoactive substances. When two or more psychiatric drugs are given together, each at its maximum dose, toxic levels of exposure can occur. In addition, some of these children are being given higher than the FDA-approved dose of individual drugs.

One young child interviewed by ABC News described the effect of the antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs he was taking: “They made me feel like I had a thousand bricks on my head.” Another child said, “Some of the medications were for ADHD but I’m not ADHD, I’m just naughty.” A teen in foster care on multiple psychiatric drugs told ABC News she felt like a “guinea pig.”

Foster children are provided government insurance in the form of Medicaid that includes “mental health” services such as psychiatric evaluations and prescription drug coverage. Individual states administer Medicaid and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for overseeing the state programs.

In the states surveyed by the GAO, children in Massachusetts fared worst. Thirty-nine percent of the foster care children aged 0-17 on Medicaid were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug. By comparison, 10 percent of non-foster care children in Massachusetts were prescribed at least one psychotropic medication under Medicaid. It’s serious enough when 10 percent of non-foster care children from our poorer communities are receiving psychiatric drugs; it’s even more tragic when 39 percent of our most poor and abandoned children are being inundated with these drugs. Other states in the GAO study had total numbers of foster care children on Medicaid being prescribed at least one psychiatric drug: Oregon — 19.7 percent; Texas — 32.2 percent; Florida — 22 percent; and Michigan — 21 percent. The statistics reported are eye-opening, and it is worthwhile to see the full GAO report. In Texas, for instance, 9.1 percent of foster care children aged 0-5 years old are on at least one psychiatric drug, and 58.2 percent of foster care children aged 13-17 years old are on at least one psychiatric drug.  Massachusetts has 53.4 percent of foster care children aged 13-17 on at least one psychiatric drug, and almost 5 percent of foster children aged 0-5 are on at least one psychiatric drug.

Is this widespread psychiatric drugging medically appropriate or indicated? Absolutely not. First of all, these are young children, even infants, who have already been through extremely traumatic experiences. All of them have been taken from their homes and most of them will not have had a stable replacement home. Beyond that, one can only imagine their horrendous living conditions prior to being removed from their families of origin. These children do not need psychoactive substances — they need the best human, caring services that our society can provide. The drugs may make them temporarily more docile, but by disrupting and suppressing normal brain function and development, they add new stressors to their lives and prevent them from adapting and growing as best as possible.

ABC News reports, “Of all the psychiatric medications, antipsychotics are, by far, the most prescribed, especially for foster children. Foster children are given anti-psychotics at a rate nine times higher than children not in foster care, according to a 2010 16-state analysis by Rutgers University of nearly 300,000 foster children.”….

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3 thoughts on ““The Psychiatric Drugging of America’s Foster Children” – Dr. Peter Breggin

  1. This is unacceptable, if the government and foster parents don’t understand the trauma of being removed, leave them there. What’s really worse? I was abused but never put in to foster care. I do believe some children will need some drugs for a short time to adjust. The people allowing children to be abused another way need to go to jail. What about as the child gets older, turns into an adult, they are going to leave the system as drug addicts. And the cycle continues. Somebody in our government who cares needs to get the facts in an audit and put an end to blanket drugging.

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