Parents in America are turning to psychoactive medication to help them cope with the challenging behaviour of their kids, even though the drugs, and sometimes the diagnoses, remain controversial.
In America’s Medicated Kids, Louis Theroux travels to one of America’s leading children’s psychiatric treatment centres, in Pennsylvania, to learn and understand what drives parents to put their kids on drugs.
Louis meets Hugh, a 10 year-old boy who has been diagnosed with ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorder. Moving in with Hugh and his family, Louis learns more about his controversial diagnosis and gets to know a family where even the dog is on medication.
We also meets Jack, aged six, a child who has been excluded from school for his explosive behaviour and who now takes antidepressant medication for his anxiety. And when 15-year-old Kaylee (diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder) takes a day off her medication, Louis gets a glimpse of what life is like without the drugs.
From med checks to personal pharmacies, this documentary explores the world of psychiatric medication for kids, attempting to find the line between ordinary bad behaviour and pathology.
Are pharmaceuticals taking the place of old old-fashioned parenting?