Foster children, traumatized by abuse and/or neglect, are frequently prescribed psychiatric medications at a much higher rate and at much higher doses than children in the general population. But psychiatric medication is not the treatment for trauma, psychotherapy is.
As these children grow up and age out of the foster care system, what will they have to say about their psychiatric treatment and the medications they were given?
Documentary film makers Karen De Sa and Dai Sugano asked that very question in their film, "Drugging Our Kids". The documentary examines the over-prescribing of psychiatric medications for children in California's foster care system. The issues discussed in this film are not isolated to California. Texas, the state in which I practice, has one of the highest rates of psychiatric medication prescribed for children in foster care. This is a problem across the United States.
The film examines the practice of using psychiatric medications as a chemical straight jacket to tranquilize problem behaviors. I have seen the very long lists of medications prescribed to these children, as well as, the long lists of diagnoses that are given to them. Rarely do these diagnoses contain Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect you would expect PTSD to be the primary diagnosis. However, I more frequently saw; ADHD, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional behavior disorder, depression and anxiety disorders. Rarely is consideration given that the behavior these children are exhibiting is most a result of the violence and neglect they have experienced. They are simply labeled as behavior problems and medicated.