ADHD Nation

Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic

ADHD Nation

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

The groundbreaking and definitive account of the widespread misdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—and how its unchecked growth over half a century has made ADHD one of the most controversial conditions in medicine, with serious effects on children, adults, and society.

More than 1 in 7 American children get diagnosed with ADHD—three times what experts have said is appropriate—meaning that millions of kids are misdiagnosed and taking medications such as Adderall or Concerta for a psychiatric condition they probably do not have. The numbers rise every year. And still, many experts and drug companies deny any cause for concern. In fact, they say that adults and the rest of the world should embrace ADHD and that its medications will transform their lives.

In ADHD Nation, Alan Schwarz examines the roots and the rise of this cultural and medical phenomenon: The father of ADHD, Dr. Keith Conners, spends fifty years advocating drugs like Ritalin before realizing his role in what he now calls “a national disaster of dangerous proportions”; a troubled young girl and a studious teenage boy get entangled in the growing ADHD machine and take medications that backfire horribly; and big Pharma egregiously over-promotes the disorder and earns billions from the mishandling of children (and now adults).

While demonstrating that ADHD is real and can be medicated when appropriate, Schwarz sounds a long-overdue alarm and urges America to address this growing national health crisis.
  • Scribner | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501105913 | 
  • September 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for ADHD Nation includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In ADHD Nation, former Pulitzer Prize–nominated New York Times reporter Alan Schwarz offers an authoritative account of the explosion of ADHD diagnoses and the overmedication of children and adults, with consequences few understand. Based on more than 1,000 interviews with doctors, parents, children, pharmaceutical executives, teachers, and researchers, ADHD Nation sounds an alarm and makes the case for society to wake up and address this national health crisis.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. The opening of ADHD Nation reads, “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Why do you think so many people don’t consider ADHD a true disorder? What impact does this skepticism have on afflicted patients’ ability to seek help?

2. In the introduction, Schwarz describes ADHD Nation as a “we book.” He writes, “It’s the story of how we, as a society, have allowed what could be a legitimate medical conditio see more

About the Author

Alan Schwarz
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Alan Schwarz

Alan Schwarz is a former Pulitzer Prize–nominated investigative reporter for The New York Times whose acclaimed series of more than one hundred articles exposed the seriousness of concussions in the NFL and led to safety reforms for young athletes nationwide. His work was profiled in The New Yorker and honored with a George Polk Award, the Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Project Reporting (three times), and the 2013 Excellence in Statistical Reporting Award from the American Statistical Association. He and his family live in New York City.