Who Is at Risk for Problems?

The children most at risk for taking multiple medications that could be harmful are those with disruptive or dangerous behavior.

When kids are unmanageable at home and at school, doctors generally try whatever pharmaceutical tools are available to help them. If one medication helps a little, but not enough, doctors may add more medications to try to get a better outcome. And another. And so on.

Dr. Steingard, who’s seen children on as many as a dozen meds, recommends exploring behavioral supports before using multiple medications.

If a child has a learning or attention disorder and is frustrated at school, she should have supports there. If she is out of control at home, parent training can be very helpful. Anxiety and depression, which might also be causing aggression, both respond well to behavioral treatments.

Thinking beyond medication is an important part of the solution to complex problems that’s often overlooked.