Over-medication becoming problem among foster kids



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report that shows a child in foster care is 4.5 times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic than a child who is not in foster care.

Sophia, a 15-year-old who asked KRDO Newschannel 13 not to reveal her last name, said she was prescribed a series of medications during her stay at a residential treatment facility.

Sophia was abused and neglected as a child, and while living at the facility, she said she was having difficulty concentrating. She told KRDO Newschannel 13 that the dosage she was prescribed to treat this symptom was too much, making her lethargic.

“I had nowhere to go. Like I was stuck. Like I couldn’t move. Like I felt like I was so drowsy, I couldn’t even wake up,” she said of her feelings while on her medications.

Sophia said she was taking about 12 pills daily, including Lithium and Adderall.

Adderall is used primarily to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Lithium can be used to treat many conditions, including mania and depression.

Sophia’s court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, Michelle Lobato, said she knew something was wrong.

“She would fall asleep and was just not 'with it.' It concerned me. It actually scared me, to be honest with you,” said Lobato.

Lobato said Sophia opened up to her during their time together, and Lobato knew she had to intervene to get Sophia a different medical staff and an alternative treatment.

Lobato fought to have Sophia transferred to a new residential treatment facility, one closer to Sophia's home.

“What I knew was that we would have to have a whole new medical staff, and they would reevaluate her immediately,” said Lobato.

Lobato's efforts were successful, and Sophia was transferred to a new facility where the doctors discovered she had toxic levels of medications in her body.

Sophia had been over-medicated, according to her mother, but she has recovered. Sophia is now living at home with her mother, where she says she is happy and healthy.

Lobato said there are several cases similar to Sophia's that have potential to not end as well.

“There’s too many. There’s way too many. One is too many,” she said.

Lobato said it is very important for parents, teachers, friends and others who encounter children, in foster care and out, to pay attention to these kids and look for signs of over-medication.

“'When good people do nothing, evil prevails. We have to do something. That’s all there is to it,” she said.

The CASA association is a team of trained volunteers appointed by judges to advocate for each child in the foster care and family court systems. They strive to ensure the child is not overlooked or ignored by the system.

To get involved with CASA and help children like Sophia, more information can be found here.