Rx Generation Conference Materials
September 19-20, 2013
Hilton Garden Inn, Freeport, Maine
Psychotropic drug prescriptions for children and adolescents have skyrocketed in recent years in spite of the fact that there is an absence of valid research to support the practice. Unbiased scientific research indicates these medications have questionable effectiveness and their use poses serious long-term consequences to developing brains and bodies.
Low-income children and those placed in foster care are prescribed these medications disproportionately. This conference explored this trend in light of the available evidence. Is the trend the result of reduced stigma, our cultural need for a “quick fix,” the medicalization of social and cultural problems, new effective medications, and/or aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies? What are the viable alternatives to the use of psychotropic drugs? How can the resources and skills be developed in order to realign, create, and support these alternatives?
This conference explored these issues and deepened the conversation about how we can redirect the path toward healthy child development and wellness.
Click on the image above to view the event brochure.
The Evidence Is In: Why We Need to Develop Alternatives to Psychiatric Medications for Children
The medicating of children in our society with psychiatric drugs began with the prescribing of stimulants to children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in the 1980s. Today, children and teenagers are regularly being prescribed stimulants, antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. By some accounts, more than one in ten children is medicated. This is a profound thing for society to do, and if we look closely at the science behind these practices, we can see that these practices, over the long-term, are causing great harm.
Young, Poor, and Drugged: How Antipsychotics Are Hurting America’s Disadvantaged Youth
Jacqueline Sparks, Ph.D.
New research shows that antipsychotic use by low-income and very low-income children in the United States skyrocketed in just under a decade. This has occurred despite the failure of science to provide an empirically valid or ethical case for placing so many youth on these toxic drugs. This address looked at the numbers and the picture behind the numbers – who is prescribing, for what reasons, and in what settings. Further, the talk explored how pediatric antipsychotic prescription adds to the burden of children already struggling with marginal economic and social conditions. Antipsychotics as a tool of oppression were considered and a call for corrective and socially just action issued.
How Doctors Are Misled
John Abramson, M.D.
Comprehensive marketing campaigns conducted by pharmaceutical companies have increased inappropriate prescribing of psychoactive drugs. Formerly confidential corporate documents that have been unsealed as a result of litigation were used to show how these campaigns systematically misinformed physicians.
Foster CareLESS, Mental Hell-O and Juvenile JustIS
Giovan recounts the adversity he endured as a child and youth involved in the foster care, mental health and juvenile justice systems. With humor and an unbridled passion, Giovan took the audience down his road of abandonment and abuse and uplifted the audience with his resilience and unwavering tenacity to overcome the systematic flaws that had such an adverse impact on his life. His challenge to the audience was to be that unconditionally caring adult that every child deserves to have in their life.
Adverse Childhood Experiences and Their Impacts Over the Lifespan: Call for a New Paradigm
The Adverse Childhood Study (ACE) is the largest study ever done to look at health, behavioral health and social effects of adverse childhood experiences over the lifespan. The study was conducted as collaboration between Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Preventive Medicine in San Diego, CA and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Interviews with over 17,000 HMO members produced irrefutable evidence showing that childhood experiences are the single most powerful determinants of who we become as adults. When unaddressed, adverse childhood experiences have a significant graded relationship to the development of the most troublesome health, mental health, substance abuse, and social problems of today. In this presentation, a review of ACE study findings was presented and additional research on the impacts of early childhood sexual abuse were cited. The story of a young woman whose life ended in tragedy was told as an example of what can happen when the impacts of adverse childhood experiences and trauma remain unrecognized by our culture and unaddressed in our human service systems. It is urgent that a new paradigm for understanding mental health, substance abuse, and a plethora of health and social problems be adopted. The present paradigm leads to maltreatment and ineffective services.
Morning Breakout Sessions
Translating the Research on Psychotropic Medications With Children to Clinical Practice: Problems and Pitfalls
Steve Balt, M.D.
In this follow-up session to Thursday’s plenary, Dr. Balt provided examples from the literature to explore research protocols and the problems inherent in expanding these findings to everyday psychiatric practice with youth and adolescents.
Kim Desso, M. Ed.
Interventions for Children Exposed to Trauma
Rebecca Brown, LCSW
It has become widely accepted in the mental health field that many of the most common emotional and behavioral challenges facing children and adolescents can be rooted in childhood exposure to violence and trauma. It has never been more important than now for mental health practitioners to understand the impact of trauma on childhood development and the evidence-based strategies and treatments proven to be effective in helping children and adolescents heal and thrive in the face of trauma exposure. This session provided a contextual framework for understanding the developmental implications of childhood post-traumatic stress and the evidence-based therapeutic strategies and treatments proven to be effective for children and adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic events.
Afternoon Breakout Sessions
Everything Your Kid Does Makes Perfect Sense
Richard Watson, LCSW
This session described basic concepts from Dialetical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) as they apply to the task of raising children.
Beth Stoddard, MBA and Felecia Pease, MS Ed. Adm.
Adolescent Treatment Enhancement and Dissemination Program
Don Burke, LADC, CCS and Anna Black, MA
Adolescent substance abuse has long been seen as difficult to diagnose and very challenging to treat. The SAT-ED project brings to two Maine agencies an evidence based assessment tool and treatment model used across the country. Participants learned more about these comprehensive and very effective tools, how the initial implementation is going, and how they might become involved as the project expands.
Psychosocial Options First: The Heart and Soul of Change
Barry Duncan, Psy.D.
This workshop highlighted the heart and soul of the therapeutic relationship and how to measure this alliance and the outcome of therapy with the Partners for Change Outcome Management System, a SAMHSA evidence-based practice.