As we come to the end of B.C. ADHD Awareness Week (October 14 to 20), I just thought I would speak to where we are at with ADHD in this province. And a few things we could do better.
Unfortunately, students with ADHD in B.C., unlike in provinces like Newfoundland and Alberta, do not qualify for help in classrooms unless they have learning disabilities or severe behaviour problems—and most do not. With class sizes as large as they are these days, teachers are left to struggle with little help and schools end up piecing together the best they can with little funding.
The large group of kids in this grey area that have a hard time in school, slip through the cracks and end up having difficulty in life which end up costing more long term.
These kids are prone to co-morbid or co-existing conditions such as bipolar, anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, oppositional defiant disorder, all three eating disorders and personality disorders.
Later in life, some of these folks end up in our shelters, hospitals, and jails, unwanted in our society.
I have met many people who suffer with ADHD like me but have ended up in the DTES. They identify with my story and have come to me with their stories. Unfortunately, when people suffer anxiety and difficulties in life, drugs can be a way to escape.
Twenty to 30 percent of alcoholics and drug users have ADHD. Twenty-one to 45 percent of prisoners have ADHD. Tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs all boost dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps people focus. It's the reward chemical, and people with ADHD have less of it than non-ADHD people.
We need to expand our designations to include ADHD in schools and in diagnosis. It will cost money in the short term but save us a lot of money in the long term. See the economic costs of ignoring ADHD here.