ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic

Alan Schwarz. Scribner, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-0591-3
New York Times reporter Schwarz (Once upon a Game) shifts from sports injury, about which he wrote a Pulitzer-nominated series, to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in this sweeping critique. He finds that the use of stimulants for an initially small number of unmanageable children with “minimal brain dysfunction” was “commandeered by Big Pharma,” leading to 11% of American children, and a growing number of adults, being diagnosed with ADHD. Schwartz primarily blames the marketing of medications direct to consumers, despite the associated side effects and risks of addiction. The calm, incisive side of Schwarz’s investigative style dominates as he traces the development of drugs, treatment protocols, and public messages over the last 40 years, but sensationalism overwhelms the reader in the cautionary tales of Jamison Monroe, who faked ADHD to maintain his Adderall addiction before being “scared straight” into founding treatment center Newport Academy, and pseudonymous Kristin Parber, who went from reluctant Ritalin user to alcoholic and addict. Nevertheless, Schwarz’s grounding in the viewpoint of Dr. Keith Connors, a pioneering ADHD researcher turned medication skeptic, makes it impossible to confuse Schwarz’s interest—exposing the role of drug companies in shaping a society-wide issue—with a disbelief in the concept of ADHD overall. Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2016
Release date: 09/06/2016
Hardcover - 978-1-5011-0593-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-2716-8
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