Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International says a recent study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology has unveiled the high prevalence of psychotropic drug usage among foster children. The study published in May 2023 shows that more than one-third (35%) of children in the foster care system who are covered by Medicaid are prescribed psychotropic drugs. This is four times higher than the 8% of non-foster children under the same Medicaid coverage, who receive such prescriptions.
According to the study, the psychotropic drugs these children were prescribed included antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety drugs, and stimulants. Three of these drug classes carry the FDA’s most severe warning, the black box: antidepressants for suicidal ideation; and stimulants (ADHD) drugs for addiction. Anti-anxiety drugs can include benzodiazepines as a subclass. Benzodiazepines carry a black box warning due to “serious risks and harms,” with prolonged use leading to “clinically significant physical dependence.”
Sonya Muhammad, a retired counselor from the Los Angeles County Office of Education and Foster Youth Services, worked in the system for 12 years.
As she began pulling children’s medical records, she found the majority of them were being drugged, “It was rare to see a child on one drug. It was always at least two, or three, or sometimes four. I would say that more than 75% of my caseload were on some type of drug. It was about restraining them, a chemical restraint. The main goal was to shut the child up and shut the child down.”