ADHD Medication Abuse

By Rick Green  ADHD Medication

I have been thinking about the abuse and misuse of ADHD medication.
And here I’m referring to the official, approved, doctor prescribed, legally obtained medications, stimulant and otherwise.

Like 99% of people with ADD who eventually try medication, I was reluctant to rely on a ‘crutch.’  I was worried I’d become addicted, that it would kill my creativity, turn me into a hop-head.  (Actually, I’m not even sure what that is, except they used it a lot in 1940’s detective movies.)

DOCTOR JEKYLL AND MR. RICK

I was afraid that my doctor was going to push pills on to me.
I was concerned that the Pharma companies were going to get me hooked.
I was afraid I would no longer be ‘Rick’.
I had a thousand concerns.

So my doctor answered my questions.  He assured me that a mild stimulant would not make me an addict, and that none of his clients who worked in ‘creative fields’ had said it impacted their creativity, I gingerly gave medication a try.

That is, I gave official, approved, doctor prescribed, legally obtained medications at try.  I was already self medicating with overwork, constant novelty seeking, adrenaline, and vats of caffeine.

SO I TOOK THE PILL…

For me, medication made a big difference.  Shocking in a way.  I was able to sit and finish my tax paperwork.  The first time that happened was mind-boggling.  I felt like I’d won the Indy 500.  I wanted to open a bottle of champagne and spray my pit crew while Miss Goodyear Tires presented me with my trophy.  Magic pills!
My doctor was right. I was still creative.  I wasn’t addicted.  I was actually felt more like myself rather than less.

And so I stopped asking questions.

IF IT AIN’T BROKE…

I didn’t read the pamphlet that came with the medication. Boring, right.  Didn’t even glance at it.  I didn’t keep up on the latest information.
When I used to read the Forums here on TotallyADD, I rarely looked at the conversation streams about medication.  Even though those streams were, and are, the most searched and read.

So I had no idea that having orange juice in the morning would negate the effect of my particular medication.  Until a few weeks back, when someone mentioned this during a conversation, and everyone but me was nodding, “Yeah.  You can’t have orange juice, it interferes.”  “Yeah, ruins the uptake.” “That’s right.”
Holy smoke!

WHY WASN’T I TOLD?

How come I didn’t know this?
What else don’t I know?
Why didn’t my doctor tell me?
Why didn’t the pharmacist warn me?
Why didn’t the drug company inform me?

And then I saw the common thread in all of these thoughts… me.

Why hadn’t I made the effort to find out?  Here we have created this website, TotallyADD, with Forums full of first hand experience.  It is a treasure trove of insight and information.  Why am I NOT using it?

We so often complain about irresponsible doctors, companies, and organizations.  But I’m embarrassed to say, the one weak link in the chain, the irresponsible one, is not a doctor or a drug company.

It’s me.

7 Replies to “ADHD Medication Abuse”

  1. Dear Rick Green,

    I really appreciated your post. I too had been very fearful of what ADHD meds would do to me. (I was drinking litres of caffeine a day and eating mounds of sugar to have the energy to work, parent, live). My nephew told me the meds “work like a charm” for concentration, so at age 47 I went for it.

    When they “kicked in” it was as if someone turned down dials on the intensity of the lights, the sounds, the strawberry on the floor that I was sure someone was going to step on and track through the kitchen, the moods of those around me. Everything was dialled back except for what I was focussing on. So I did a test. I turned and focused on something else and wa-la, that dial turned up and the previous focus of my attention dialled down. I got to experience background for what felt like the first time in my life. It was so easy to focus.

    The effete of the meds were short lasting (2 hours), but the ah-ha moment was transformative. I understood my brain better and could start looking for all the critical supports I need in addition to prescribed meds. I appreciate your reminding me that “me” is the one responsible for ensuring those meds can work properly by getting enough sleep, eating right, not overworking, not overplaying, and continuing to learn about this brain difference.

    As a lover of science, without prejudice, I direct those who are focused on nonADDers taking ADHD meds to the following research on the NIH website:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813924/

    Bonnie

  2. What?? Orange juice interferes with uptake??? I never saw this!

    WHY WASN’T I TOLD?

    How come I didn’t know this?
    What else don’t I know?
    Why didn’t my doctor tell me?
    Why didn’t the pharmacist warn me?
    Why didn’t the drug company inform me?

    😉

  3. Bonnie, Rick, it was exactly the same for me. I took my first medication and within half an hour I could concentrate on my mum talking to me for the first time for a long long long long long long time. However, she was telling me stuff she’s already told me probably a dozen times (probably because I don’t listen), so perhaps this was not the best use of the medication. Or my attention 🙂

  4. Rick,
    These issues you and your readers discuss here arise more often than not. The challenge for both docs and patients is overcoming the denial that ADHD and the medication do manifest a certain, though easily understandable, complexity. [edited by TotallyADD as dates have passed]

    ** Check out Dr. Charles Parker’s site at http://www.corebrainjournal.com/ **

    Chuck

  5. Bravo to this article! I am a pharmacist and ADHD medication user. The medication changed my life. But the not taking responsibility is not just the ADHD……it tends to be pervasive throughout society. Do it for me, I am too busy to do it myself.

  6. Right on Rick!
    Those who have ADHD do need to inform themselves about medications, from reliable sources like help4adhd.org or TotallyADD.com. Those who live or teach or work with them should as well. The popular media is harmful to spreading accurate information about medications, even toxic. There seems to be a bias perpetuated by otherwise authoritative sources like the New York Times (“all the news that’s fit to print” now is “all the news that fits, we print”), Wall Street Journal, Scientific American. The objective evidence from imaging studies to good basic science studies on dopamine transport systems etc has been largely provided by the National Institutes of Health in the US. A reasonable use of taxpayers’ money (YAY!). Not by pharmaceutical companies. The science is clear, those who profess to be trained in science-related fields who ignore the scientific method are letting their beliefs get in the way of the facts. Keep fighting the good fight !
    Dr.Dave

  7. I work in healthcare(in the US) and all I can say is we need to educate ourselves as patients because the docs have no time to give us all the info we need.

    pretty sure last time I went to psychiatrist he was being timed(I kid you not) and I had to be pro-active enough to keep him long enough to talk meds and diet and supplements and not just passively accept what he offered

    We need to talk strategies and issues and worries with therapists! let them know what we need and what they can do that will help us, not just go in and let them throw Ideas at us.

    we need to get interested enough in ourselves, our diagnosis and our treatment to get the time and attention we are paying for!

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