Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Medication in Foster Care

Many children taking antipsychotic medications do not have psychosis but trauma-induced behavioral problems with symptoms that mimic mental illness, researchers and child advocates said....

Foster kids in 2012 were prescribed anti-psychotics at 12 times the rate of other children on government insurance, which has raised alarms that the drugs are overprescribed to a vulnerable group.  
Jennifer Brown and Christopher N. Osher, The Denver Post, April 15, 2014

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, this issue is one of personal importance to me because of my daughter. When she joined our family by way of the foster system at age 8 she struggled to keep her eyes open as a result of all the medication she had been prescribed. As mentioned in the Denver Post article I quoted above, some of the medications typically taken by foster children are prescribed for "off-label" reasons that fall beyond the scope of the Food and Drug Administration's recommendations. My daughter was prescribed one such drug; it had potentially serious side effects and had to be approved by a judge in order for her to take it. 
The judged approved it, but neither her first mother nor I would ever have done so! In foster care she was in limbo, with no mama-bear advocate on her side. Happily, once she was placed in the care of my husband and myself we were able to wean her off all of the medications fairly quickly, with the support of a psychiatrist who agreed with us that she didn't need the drugs. She experienced nothing but positive effects as a result of their discontinuation. 
Giovan Bazan, the young man in the man in the video below, had to wait until he was 18 to get himself off the medications that subdued his emotions, preventing him from fully expressing himself and enjoying life. He speaks powerfully of the damaging potential of labels, listing the many different diagnoses that were attached to him over the years and adding, "Once I removed those labels I was able to choose what I wanted to be for myself." Please take a few moments to watch the video and listen to his story. Foster alumni are the true experts on the foster-care system. We do well to listen to what they have to say.

Image courtesy of nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net