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Vol. 18, No. 1 • November 2013

Young People's Thoughts about Psychotropic Medication

In the last issue we asked young people in foster care “Some children in foster care take medicines to help them manage difficult behaviors or feelings. How might this help kids? How might it cause problems for them?" Here’s what they had to say.

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First Place

by Ty'Shawn, age 17

If people that have certain feelings or behaviors do not take their medication, they may not be able to function properly throughout their day. For example, without their medication those who battle depression may go through the day feeling sad or frustrated. Those with ADHD may not be able to focus or productively cooperate with others. These examples show the importance and benefits of medicine.

However, there are also some cons to taking medication. Many children are teased because they are considered weird or strange or "different." This could really hurt a child and make them dislike others or start to believe what others believe about them.

Another disadvantage is that some medicines actually seem to cause more harm than good. Some have side effects that can be very extreme--seeming not to be worth the risk. For example, some medicine may make children "zoned-out." The medication may be so strong that the children seem not to have a personality or innovation. This is commonly referred to as the "zombie" state.

Like many other things we consume, there are positive and negative aspects to medications. It is our job to determine what is necessary and what is not worth the risk.

Ty'Shawn received $100 for winning first prize in the writing contest.

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Second Place

by Christian, age 16

Some children do not like to take medicine. It is because they may feel like it's too much and that they can do better without the medicine. That's when some children refuse. And you know what? I was one of those children.

I ended up at mental health. Because without the medicine, I was crazy. I couldn't think properly. I was like a hyperactive, very high-sugared, overrated, messed up person. I put my lips on the window when the nurse was looking at the files and reading. I was given a shot at the mental health hospital because I wouldn't calm down. I wouldn't sit on the bed. I wouldn't answer the woman who was trying to question why I ended up at mental health.

I ended up there because I had suicidal thoughts. Because when I didn't take my medicine I thought of that somehow.

I am never, ever going to refuse to take my medicine. I just have to take it or something will go wrong. Something will lead me somewhere. Who knows where?

My mom who adopted me and keeps me safe doesn't want me to go in that path again.

Christian received $50 for winning second prize in the writing contest.

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Third Place

by Amber, age 17

I'm one of those that take medicine to help with their behavior. I think that the good thing about the medicine is that if the medicine helps the child, that child can go out into the world and live a very great and productive life. But if the medicine doesn't help that child, he/she could end up in trouble all the time and the foster parent would get tired of the child and won't [keep] them, and the child will have to jump from foster house to foster house. And that's not good. I think it's a good thing for kids to be on the right medicine--it helps the child and the foster parent.

Amber received $25 for winning third prize in the writing contest.

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Pros and Cons of Medication

The children below received $15 for having their work published in Fostering Perspectives.

Some kids and teenagers in foster care take meds for things like: behaviors, feelings, emotions, bad thoughts, and acting out. None of these are good. If your behaviors are not good you get in trouble. You sometimes can't control what you are feeling. One moment you will be excited, the next it's a whole different story--you are a whole different person. When you take meds it can change you. You can also feel different, like not yourself.

That's how I felt when I started on all my meds. It can affect you in so many ways. Meds may not work for you; they may make it worse than before. But they may not affect you. They may help you feel better.

-- Hannah, age 13


I'm a rising 3rd grader diagnosed with ADHD. I am also in foster care. I think some children in foster care take medicines to help them manage difficult behaviors or feelings. The medicines help calm them down and keep them concentrated in school. The medicines help children not to get distracted so they can stay focused and reach their highest goals.

--Dakota, age 8


I've been diagnosed with ADHD since third grade. Since taking my medicines from the doctor, I can stay more focused. I think some medicines can help kids function better. In school it can help kids with work and other important things, and also not to get hyper.

Some medicines can make you sick. Also, mixing medicines with other medicines can make you really sick. Some medicines can be bad for some kids--like making them sleepy, losing their appetite, and making them lose weight.

All medicines have their advantages and disadvantages. The medicine that I take helps me stay focused so I can concentrate in school.

--Anayah, age 12


Fostering Perspectives' Next Writing Contest

First Prize: $100 • Second Prize: $50 • Third Prize: $25

If you are under 18 and are or have been in foster care, please send us a letter or short essay in response to the following:

Sometimes youth in foster care get into trouble with the law. What should foster parents, social workers, GALs, and others do to support them when this happens?

Deadline: February 6, 2014

Anyone under 21 who is or has been in foster care or a group home can enter. E-mail your submission to [email protected] or send it via U.S. Mail your entry to:

John McMahon, Editor
Fostering Perspectives
Jordan Institute for Families
UNC-CH School of Social Work
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3550

Include your name, age, address, social security number (used to process awards only, your confidentiality will be protected) and phone number. In addition to receiving the awards specified above, winners will have their work published in the next issue of Fostering Perspectives. Runners-up may also have their work published, for which they will also receive a cash award.

We’re Also Seeking Artwork and Other Writing from Children and Teens in Foster Care
Submissions can be on any theme. Submission requirements described above apply. If sent via U.S. Mail, artwork should be mailed flat (unfolded) on white, unlined paper.