Kids and drugs – not what you think

I just realized something interesting today. One, teachers and school staff go through a LOT of sticky notes. And two, the school is loaded with them – cubes, pads, big, small and all sizes in between. What makes this observation something other than an exercise in “so what” blogging is the fact that every single sticky note pad/block I’ve seen in the entire school has a pharmaceutical logo on it. I just got one today – a little block of cute stickynotes, courtesy of Keppra (levetiracetam), an anti-seizure drug (apparently a ginormous box of them in all sizes was dropped off at the school sometime lately). Several of the pads around the office I work in shill for Zoloft and other anti-depressants.

Now, I realize that it’s a fact of life that in a school of any size there will be several students on meds for any number of reasons, from asthma to zoster (shingles). However – and maybe it’s just me – I find it substantially creepy-making that the pharmaceutical industry is actively marketing in the schools the same way they do at the doctors’ offices. I mean, theoretically I suppose a teacher or other staff could conversationally recommend a medical option to a troubled parent, but it’s not like we’re handing out scripts at the counselor’s office.

So why the marketing swag? I get the sneaking, and scary, suspicion that it’s not to encourage sales of a particular med but rather to say, “Thanks for the support.” Not to suggest that all schools over-recommend students for behavioral medication or what have you. But it’s a well-known fact that the last decade has been a good time to be a pharmaceutical company that makes child-targeted behavior modification meds. And teachers/staff are the front line for noticing disruptive behaviors (some of which have more of a root in the kid being 7 years old and bored, and restricted from expressing either than any organic disease or condition.) I’ve even heard that in some places, a school can refuse to accept kids whom the school feels need medicating (not a doctor, but the school administrators!) until they are duly medicated.

And truly, I can sympathize. In fact we had been discussing that very subject today in the homework club after an incident involving one of our kids who simply refused to do their homework (or anything else we asked them to do) and had to be sent home. The subject of “does this kid maybe need meds?” came up, but my response was, no, it was simply that the kid was very high-energy (the kind of person that is positively referred to as edgy or dynamic as an adult), bored, looking for attention (in any form) and simply testing our limits (and finding them, as it turns out). After all, the kid reads very well and with good concentration (once they get going) and is generally very perceptive, smart and funny. But it was hard enough running a club with only a handful of kids while trying to defuse this situation – the whole time we were dealing with this issue, nobody else was getting any attention. In a rampaging classroom of 30-some-odd kids, I can definitely see the attraction of convenience medication, however wrong that is.

I don’t know where I’m going with this other to note a niggling fact that finally worked it’s way into my conscious and that I now find disturbing and worrying. OTOH, though, in all honesty I must say that my first reaction upon seeing the Zoloft pad a few weeks ago was to think, “How ironically appropriate,” given the many-plates-spinning sort of a day my supervisor had been Dervishly whirling through up to that point. So maybe it’s not just the kids I need to worry about. šŸ™‚

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