Hope for Our Kids; New Clinic Helps to Wean Scots Children off Prescription Drugs

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Byline: HEATHER GREENAWAY

SCOTLAND'S first rehabilitation service has been launched to get kids off prescription drugs.

The Cactus Clinic will be Britain's first ever withdrawal clinic dealing with youngsters on anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs.

The service will be run in conjunction with The Overload Network, a Scottish- based charity set up to provide an advocacy service for parents with children with behaviour problems.

Although based at the University of Tees-side, in Middlesbrough, consultants from the clinic will travel up to Scotland to meet with children and parents.

Janice Hill, 44, from Edinburgh, has been working with The Overload Network for the past 20 years and is delighted that the new clinic will help Scottish kids.

It will mainly deal with kids who suffer from Attention Deficiency Hyperactive Disorder, ADHD, but children on anti-depressants will also benefit.

She said: "There are no facilities available in Scotland for parents who do not wish to use psychiatric drugs, and for children who cannot use medication for health reasons.

"The Cactus Clinic has a wide range of medical experts who will offer parents safe withdrawal programmes, alternative solutions and guidance in all aspects of child welfare and educational needs."

Janice believes doctors are too quick to prescribe anti-depressants to children without knowing the effect it has on developing brains.

She explained: "Information suggests that there are a huge amount of children on anti-depressants and if you take anti-depressants you are more likely to commit suicide.

"We are not saying that every child who commits suicide has taken psychiatric drugs, but no one is looking at the links in the UK between suicide and psychiatric drugs or psychiatric drugs and violence.

"Many of the drugs are off label which means they have never been safely tested on children.

"A survey showed that the majority of parents are giving their children drugs because they know of no other alternative.

"But how can parents give their full consent to using mind-altering drugs when there is only selective information given to them?

"It is a public health scandal to medicate children as young as two with a cocktail of psychiatric drugs without knowing long-term effects."

Scots parents who are worried about their children being on anti-psychotic drugs are urged to get in touch with the Cactus Clinic.

The service officially opens its doors in February next year, but already has 20 patients, including six from Scotland, on its books.

The organisers are hoping funding will allow the clinic to have a permanent Scottish base.

Janice believes the way forward in treating children with mental health problems lies with understanding what is causing the child's problems. She explained that there are many factors that can influence child behaviour. …