Feds Announce Cure for ADHD: Drugs

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A report released Tuesday by the National Institute of Mental Health concludes that not only is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder real, it's treatable — but only if you take your medicine. Coming down largely on the "nature" side of nature vs. nurture, the NIMH says that ADHD is most effectively combated through a combination of therapy and medication, but that the medication is the more important portion of the equation.

Critics say the ADHD "epidemic" — which, depending on who's giving the diagnosis, can cover nearly any child who's ever nodded off in class or can't stand waiting in lines — is merely a social byproduct of modernity: Children raised on cable television and video games have short attention spans. But by siding with medicine as the treatment of choice, the NIMH says that there's a clear biological component that can be chemically modified. That's not to say that every time a kid acts up we should drug him. "This is not just handing out Ritalin or Adderol," says TIME science writer Christine Gorman. "The medication needs to be monitored, and other studies show that medications are effective only when combined with some form of psychotherapy." So a pill alone still won't make your kid into a straight-A student — but it can help.