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ADHD Costs The United States $77 Billion Every Year

Posted Sep 18 2009 10:04pm

The sensationalism of ADHD in America, and as a diagnosis continues.  No surprise there!!  The media jumps on the controversy and drama band wagon…  Every day citizens laugh at the ADHD jokes (like one Conan O’Brien tried to crack this week during ADHD Awareness week of all times).   The medical community continues to preach “deficit, disorder, and weakness…”

ADHD: The $77 Billion Condition

This morning I received an e-mail touting “The Cost of ADHD.”  Being intrigued, I opened the e-mail and began reading.  Apparently, a report published by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have said that ADHD “costs sufferers” approximately 77 billion dollars each year.

  • “ADHD affects educational attainment” – and so does poor teaching, outdated lesson plans, and teachers who don’t know how to connect with children.
  • “ADHD impacts employment” – and so does the common cold, the flu, bosses who are jerks, and more…
  • “ADHD causes lost days” – and so does (again) the common cold, the flu, kids who need and deserve our attention (and more still…)

At the heart of this message, I fully understand what the researchers are saying.  I even know some people will get angry with me for the comparisons I make.  But ADHD presents real challenges…  Real struggles…  And we can’t simply just address them by putting the blame on the individual…  By thinking that medication is the only answer…

But what’s it really all about?

Yesterday I spoke with a Mom who battled ADHD and the medical community for  years.  The education and information is out there, but people seem to be paying attention to the wrong thing.  Or maybe they are offering the wrong answers (and advice).

This Mom told me her child’s physician – the supposed professional – that she should give up on her child.  He was a lost cause…

This is an extreme example.  But there is help out there.  It’s just a matter of what you pay attention to (no pun intended) and who you reach out to for support.

Claims like the one above (costs of ADHD to the United States) can be taken several different ways.  Here are some other stats you might like to know:

According to Wikipedia, the common cold costs Americans:

  • Doctor visits: $7.7 billion
  • Over-the-counter medications: $2.9 billion dollars
  • Prescription medications – $400 million

And last but not least… “An estimated 22 to 189 million school days are missed annually due to a cold. As a result, parents missed 126 million workdays to stay home to care for their children. When added to the 150 million workdays missed by employees suffering from a cold, the total economic impact of cold-related work loss exceeds $20 billion per year.”  (From the above Wikipedia link).

Yes…  I understand these numbers are pale in comparison to ADHD.  You can break it apart to the numbers of Americans who are said to have ADHD (approx 4-8% of the population) versus who gets a cold.  But what do these numbers really tell us?  And can they be broken down to real life experience?  Or are they just another way of reporting the so-called lifeless facts that are just meant to scare us?

It’s just something to chew on…

Why do we seemingly leave out so many facts?  And even more importantly, why do we NOT provide more context and comparison!

ADHD is a very real condition.  ADHD requires serious attention (no pun intended once again).  But most of all, ADHD requires love…  It requires helping people — building them up and NOT breaking them down and making them feel worse about themselves.

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