Oh merciful Lord this topic!
Of all the topics to touch on regarding ADHD, this is number two on my list of eyerolling, jaw dropping, flabbergasted, disbelieving, are-you-serious-right-now subjects I try simply to avoid for fear of getting into an argument that will inevitably leave me at home sitting in my favorite chair wolfing down a half gallon of Dreyers chocolate ice cream rocking like a speed freak while trying to do anything but contemplate the ignorance of the common man.
Imagine what number one is. You’ll eventually find out.
Yes, meds. Drugs. Pharmaceuticals. the almighty pill. And the ensuing argument of whether or not we actually need them. So, I’d love to start from the beginning. But since I’m not really sure where that would be on this topic, I’ll start from mine.
Back in the day (And here come the age jokes. My kids tell me I make it all too easy for them) medication was still relatively new. I mean, it had only just become a schedule II drug in 1970. It’s true use for ADHD wasn’t until the 50’s. So, while it may not have been in the ‘experimental’ stage, it definitely wasn’t relied on as a stable source of treatment. However, my mother was willing to do anything to get her little cyclone of a son under control, so she allowed the doctor to prescribe me Addreall at age 9.
Now, as luck would have it, I started my medications right about the time I started having ‘Childhood Hallucinations’. These hallucinations were so vivid and real to me they literally freaked me out. My mother was certain they were caused by the medication as they seem to fit the effects of the drug (don’t ask me how she would know this. I’m chalking it up to parental wisdom and leaving it at that). So, from then on, I was a staunch advocate against medication. It gave me hallucinations, dammit! How can you deny these medications are dangerous when they have such a side effect!
Fast forward a plethora of years later, It’s 2014 and I’m in a new job. I desperately need some sort of control over my ADHD and give in to my internal pressure to be seen. I explain to my doctor why it is I haven’t been on medication. I figure there has to be better meds out there now that would benefit me. Ah, how I remember her smile as she told me the meds didn’t cause the hallucinations. She explained Childhood Hallucinations to me.
To this day I’m pretty sure the first thing out of my gaping maw was, “Derrr…”
And in just a moment, everything I believed about ADHD medication went out the window. I needed to know more. I had some serious studying to do. But in the meantime, I was really curious what new and designer medication my doctor was going to prescribe me. Hopefully something that was going to work quickly and seem like a miracle in the form of a capsule. My wait wasn’t long as she told me, “Addreall.”
Yes. The medication that started it all for me was back in my grip. And this time, it had a longer lasting cousin that was just itching to get inside me. (That didn’t sound right. And yet I left it….). So, now I’m medicated and try not to let the heavy weight of regret pollute me as I go through my days with a bit more concentration and focus. But, Now I had to know, what is everyone’s big issue?
The issue here is really simple. There are quite a number of people that do not believe we should be getting medication for ADHD. They have fears of addiction, neurological effects, physiological effects. Those that are adamantly against any use of pharmaceuticals usually don’t do any actual research (and no, Facebook posts do not count as research) and will most likely jump on the panic wagon believing that all who use these stimulants are destined to become slobbering junkies. These are considered pessimistic naysayers that are trying to control the life of the ADHD. Of course, those that weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves that it simply isn’t something they feel is right for them will be lumped into that group because those that are for the use of these meds are typically desperate for something to work, or are living proof they do, and will believe the opposition are simply ignorant fools that are trying to take away our functionality. I know how this feels. Believe me, it’s easy to go there. However, we do need to consider what is brought to our attention and when the argument is reasonable and researched, we need to consider what is being said.
Did you catch that sentence? Reasonable and researched. Somehow that seems to get missed in most of the articles I’ve read about whether or not a Schedule II drug should be used to treat a disorder. I’ve seen arguments ranging from ‘We’re trying to control a tractor with a train” to doctors that literally make statements that there is no such thing as ADHD because there is no physical abnormalities. (So, basically Doc, you’re saying there’s no such thing as a psychiatric disorder of any kind? because ADHD does have a physical aspect to it….) It’s hard to take someone seriously when they’re standing on only one side of the fence and calling the other side bad without actually looking at what they are judging.
Now, before this goes any further, let me be clear. I am not advocating that medication is the only source of relief from ADHD. I’ve done quite a bit of research to find how to put medication in it’s appropriate place. I really enjoy Dr. Iris Lesser’s take on medication. She calls them “Tools not a panacea”. (That means solution or remedy. Yes, I looked it up. You didn’t know either!) That means we’re not supposed to use them as our sole source of relief from our symptoms. Although, in 1999 the research from The MTA Cooperative Group found that medication alone, with or without any behavioral treatment was better than any other treatment combined. But the study did not say medication was the ONLY treatment that worked. Just the highest success rate on its own. That caught my attention. I had to know more. Where else could I find professional opinions about whether or not medication should be considered as a necessary resource? How many other studies would find that medication was the preferred direction for ADHD management?
Oh, there’s a bunch!
Childmind.org. HelpforADD.com. The Psychiatric Times. Consumer Reports for crying out loud. There are numerous articles and research studies that expose the benefits of the medication. Of course, in order to make sure my stance on medication is fair and balanced, I need to see what those in opposition say. That research proved….disappointing.
You see, what I actually found were either sites that ADHD medication is literally an excuse to get kids ‘hooked on drugs’, or that the medication is completely unnecessary because ADHD doesn’t actually exist. We will hit on that topic another time. (Do NOT get me started on number one!). However, the largest argument I have found regarding ADHD medication has nothing to do with ADHD at all. It seems that there are young students out there that believe these medications can make them ‘smarter’ and help them pass their exams. I think I blinked at that for a few minutes before realizing I was shaking my head like I was having a seizure. Sure, I knew some of these kids were using our meds to focus better in studying. And I almost feel bad that they shouldn’t. But, make them smarter? How in the name of Odin would any of these meds increase your level of intelligence? It didn’t take me long to realize that they were establishing their ability to hyper focus as gaining more intelligence. If only it were that easy.
But, I had to see if this theory had any substantiated proof. So I looked into it. Deeply. (Because if I’m taking a med that will increase my intelligence you bet I’m getting a stronger prescription!). What I found was a number of research studies that not only disprove this fantasy, but actually show that students who abuse these medications have no better test scores than those that don’t.
Huh. Go figure. (Collective sigh everyone. There’s still hope for the future….ish).
So, Basically, those of us that need these medications are paying for the sins of those abusing it, and the ignorance of those that don’t want to believe such medications could actually help us. And even though it’s been researched to the point of absurdity, there are still those that want to believe every negative myth they’ve ever heard since the 60’s.
For you out there still on the fence, let me, a person that is successfully taking the medication for treatment of his ADHD traits, set the record straight.
No, this medication is not going to alter and twist our psyche. It’s a stimulant that helps the brain release the Dopamine we so desperately need.
No, we will not become addicted to this medication. It’s a salt. It has traits similar to crystal meth, but is vastly different and doesn’t react the same. And to prove my point, would an addict have to have a reminder to take his drug before he walks out the door? (How do I keep forgetting to take it!)
no, this medication is not going to turn children into psychotics. I’ve read so many scare tactic rhetoric it’s virtually insulting. I read one person describe their child as hearing voices and seeing things and they attributed it to Ritalin. Why does that sound so familiar….
My point? (Yes, believe it or not I have one and am actually getting to it.) See a Psychiatrist and not a doctor. Get a full examination. If you have ADHD, try the meds. There are far too many of us out here not suffering from our medication not to consider it. It could help. After all, that’s what medication is meant to do in the first place. And who of us couldn’t use a little help?
And just for the fun of it…
Deabte about medication –
History of ADHD Medication –
Childhood Hallucinations –
Difference between our med and drugs –