Evaluate the risk and benefits of using psychoactive drugs in children correctly diagnosed with a disorder versus those incorrectly diagnosed with a disorder.
As with the use of any psychoactive drug, there are risks and benefits. Although psychoactive drugs are not the number one choice for use amongst children, there may be times when medication should be prescribed. For example, when non-medical interventions are implemented and do not produce the desired effects, then the use of medications may an option. According to Advokat, Comaty and Julien (2014) especially in young children, pharmacological interventions are typically implemented when functional impairments are present along with symptoms that are moderate to severe and the risk of using the medication must be examined (p. 515). Clinicians should follow proper protocol for assessing and diagnosing disorders. Advokat, Comaty and Julien (2014) suggest a four step process which includes: step 1 is begin diagnosing using an appropriate assessment, step 2 is making a diagnosis, step 3 is creating and implementing a treatment plan without the use of pharmaceuticals, and finally step 4 is evaluate the use of pharmaceutical treatment as a last resort (p. 515).
Correct diagnosing is important in order to increase the likelihood of the medication to have a positive effect. If the diagnosis is incorrectly made, then the implemented treatment plan may not be beneficial. Prescribing psychoactive drugs when needed may cause necessary brain changes and produce desired outcomes, but may cause other negative effects such as cognitive impairments. Thus it is important to have the correct diagnosis in order to have a clear understanding of the desired outcome when prescribing psychoactive drugs amongst children.
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