ADHD – Identity issues

In my last post I told you about all the different ways of treating ADHD.
Medication, therapy, dieting and even homeopathic remedies.
But what happens if you decide to leave it untreated or worse, to stop the treatment?

I don’t exactly know when I started taking the medications. I think it was around first grade when the little mysterious pills began appearing next to my cup of apple juice at breakfast. I had what my parents called “ADHD.”

I recognized in myself everything that they and the doctors told me about myself: I was hyper, easily distracted, and persistently bugging just about everyone in my vicinity.

[…] These symptoms seemed to improve with the meds, and whenever I forgot to take the pills, it was unbearable. I threw tantrums, disagreed with everything and got nothing done. […]

I got into my dream school, a very prestigious liberal arts school far from home, and made a decision. This decision changed my concept of identity: I decided to go off of the ADHD medication. […]

Above all, I wanted to prove to myself that my behavioral problems weren’t anything I couldn’t control without my meds.

Man, was I wrong.”  (20-year-old college student)

This extract is from a field report about the personal experiences of a ADHD kid growing up and her decision to quit the medication.
Everything she described really hit me, so I think her experience is the best way to illustrate the consequenzes of her beeing druged for almost her whole life. Maybe after reading this you will think twice before you let the doctor prescribe you or your kids any ADHD medication.

“My first three semesters of college were a blur. A blur of lowered inhibitions and lack of motivations. […] I don’t even remember doing any work. I wanted to, but it never got done.”

She gained more than 45 pounds in the first 2 semesters, even her psychiatrist was worried about what she had become.
Then at the beginning of this past semester she made the decision to go back on the meds. She lost weight and improved her grades.
Without the meds she was a ‘blob’ on the outside, but now back on it  she feels like a ‘blob’ on the inside.

“With the weight loss and motivation come a huge question: who the hell am I? […]
 I was medicated for 18 years and I became psychologically dependent on it. I can’t function in society without it now.”

She has to fight serious psychological disorders, like insomnia, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, mental breakdowns and serious depression.
She feels like she has a double identity.
One identity with drugs and another without them.

“How could that unmotivated, unmedicated girl be me?”

Symptoms like this are not a curiosity with ADHD patients off their medication.
Dr. Robert Pressman, Family Therapist & Pediatric Psychologist, admits that a discontinuation of medication may result in a period of emotional and physical discomfort that can last several weeks.
He basically describes a process found with drug detoxification. Sounds alarming, doesn’t it?
He found out that even if medication is restarted the patient may not have the full benefit of the drugs right from the first day.
Still a lot of parents or patients themselves don’t want to continue with the medication.
One reason are all the different side effects I discussed in my last post. What can they do?
Well, in his opinion it is really important that the medication is never changed without consulting a doctor.
Further he says that holidays are the best time to stop the medication, because the patient has enough time to recover from the detoxification process. Plus there is also enough time to start a new therapy, maybe even with some natural remedies, which we found out last week don’t have any side efefcts.

But besides all that the most shocking fact I discovered during my research was that kids actually deal with their ADHD drugs.

I was seriously shocked.
Digging deeper into this aspect of ADHD I found out that the massive overprescription of the amphetamine drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the root of this problem. Actually America’s biggest unacknowledged drug problem!
Since ADHD diagnosis and the use of drugs to treat it increased rapidly, kids sell each other these kind of drugs, apparently to boost their grades!
The kids break open the pills and snort the drug. Just like junkies do with cocaine.

This problem has been ignored for years, maybe people were afraid or too comfortable to touch it, but recently the New York Times has finally woken up to this problem and published an article about it. It claims that, for children without ADHD, “just one pill can jolt them with the energy focus to push through all-night homework binges and stay awake during exams afterward”.

Damian Thompson, Editor of Telegraph Blogs and columnist for the Daily Telegraph, thinks instead that not all school pupils are doing these drugs to concentrate on work, but that  “they’re doing it to get high“.

These drugs, which are a mixture of stimulants, can make you just as euphoric as cocaine. Especially if one takes it for the first time.
It does help you concentrate though, but “the effect wears off – and addiction often takes its place”.

During his research about this topic he got curious and made a self experiment. He snorted some Adderall (one of the most common medications for ADHD patients) and documented the effects.
At first he didn’t notice any change but after a few hours the amphetamine wave hit him for the first time.
“I’d become as high as a kite.” For me this was his most significant statement during this documentation.
He describes how he was able to work through the whole night thanks to this drug.
The blues didn’t hit him until the next day. It took him almost a week to recover from this trip.
“And this is what they give to nine-year-olds.”
When you think back now to how I told you last week what dangerous side-effects these medication has and how we found out today how badly it can effect someone who tries to stop the medication, this issue becomes even more serious.

His article is very extensive and definitely the most interesting article about this topic I have read until now!
You should check it out, if you are still interested about this topic after reading my post.
Here is the link: blogs.telegraph.co.uk
But don’t you dare to quit reading my posts about ADHD after reading his awesome article!
Because next week I will finally get to a somewhat business like aspect about ADHD and I can promise you that you don’t want to miss out on that one 😉

After discovering all that I can only say, that I am shocked how reckless doctors and parents handle the ADHD medication issue.
I even found various discussions in the internet about how it is “so ridiculously easy to get Ritalin prescriptions”.
Most of the comments were about how they usually take Ritalin to concentrate and how it lead them to harder drugs like speed.
For me this easygoing attitude towards Adderall, Ritalin and CO just turned dealing with drugs into a game for kids.
And will lead sooner or later result in a whole generation of drug addicts since childhood.
But how did it come that far? Why did the prescription of ADHD drugs increase so much and why is this issue handled so carelessly?
Well, you’ll find out in my next post.

Stay tuned for next week.

Over and out.

PS: I’m sorry for this aweful load of text,
but as I said right at the start,
this topic has been in my mind for too long and I just have to let it all out now.
Thanks for reading!

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4 Responses to ADHD – Identity issues

  1. lilmeu says:

    Hey Kathi,

    I really appreciate that you continue writing about ADHD. You seem to be very interested in that topic and even I am excited about reading more and more about this disorder. The reason is that you are very good at highlighting the same topic (ADHD) in different ways. As you already said; you wrote about general facts, how to combat the disorder and now you are even talking about “identity issues”, the emotional part of the disease which is also very important to mention.

    First of all; I love your introduction! Although I thought in the beginning “Oh my god, why did she string toghether so much quotations?”, I understand the purpose now. This stylistic device called “accumulation” attracts attention and results in continue reading. Additionally, your linkage of these quotations is also quite useful if you want to dig deeper into the topic.
    However, it is hard to put myself in the student´s position and in her feelings because I never suffered from ADHD. Of course, I am also demotivated with regards to university but this can´t be compared with her situation! According to her statements like “I can’t function in society without it now”, her life seems to be incredibly difficult and to be a strain.
    Hopefully, scientists develop a helpful medication WITHOUT or with LESS side-effects.

  2. Nicpic says:

    Hi Kathi,
    even though your topic is not linked to management or business I still find it extremely interesting, gripping and significant to society! Your last three posts concerning ADHD are absolutely informative and shed a light on an illness we do not usually hear of – I only know of it because one of my kindergarten teachers suggested to my mother to get me tested -which she didn’t-, apparently I was too much to handle for that teacher 😉 So I applaud you for writing about this topic and similarly to Lilly I am particularly impressed by how you manage to look at this illness from different perspectives and dig even deeper. Moreover the specific case and personal experience engage your reader and are completely compelling! Well done!
    However I have to admit that I think this is one of your weaker posts, especially of your ADHD ones. Here are some suggestions to what you could improve.
    At first glance the beginning seems to consist of many unsorted quotation. Have you considered only using brackets to indicate missing text and omitting the paragraphs? I think this would make the purpose and meaning of your quotation more clear. Furthermore I think your post would hugely benefit from some pictures or other media! You could even use some abstract pictures like this one. Moreover have you considered including some links to other interesting articles or case studies you found while researching? I would love some more information. In addition you have to be careful when formatting your post, one of your last sentences is separated right in the middle by a paragraph, which is slightly confusing.
    Lastly, again as stated above I loved reading your post especially because of the personal experience and quotations, nonetheless I missed more experts’ opinions and greater generalizations in it. I think specifically your last sentence about going off ADHD medication being like a “drug detoxification” could have been a good basis for further generalizing your post.
    Even though I gave you some points to improve I truly enjoyed reading this as well as most of your posts! It’s only because I have already seen that you can do better that I critique this harshly.
    I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what you come up with next!
    Cheers Nicky

  3. Nicpic says:

    Hi Kathi,
    I think your topic is completely gripping, exciting and of significance to our society even though it does not yet include a management or business aspect. Therefore I am really looking forward to seeing what you come up with next week!!
    I think it is great that you include so much personal experience (not yours but nonetheless^^) but also offer a lot of experts’ opinion. I had by mistake already read your post when it was not yet finished and I am impressed by the huge improvement!
    I really appreciated the many different links you included so that people who are interested can continue reading about this topic and I think it’s great that you’re so involved in your topic! I feel like this really reflects in your passionate writing!
    You touch a lot of different aspects in your post like identity issues and drug dealing which I personally enjoyed! However did you consider splitting the one post into two and then digging even deeper into both topics, since they’re so completely fascinating!!
    Moreover I suggest you insert the “more tag” beneath your last quote instead of right after it. Right now the “continue reading” almost melts together with the quotation when looking at the overview of fastexposure and is hard to make out. In addition I would proofread the post another time. There are still a few small mistakes. But these are only finessing problems.
    I was very impressed by your post and have to stress again how much I enjoyed reading it!
    Great job Kathi!
    Cheer Nicky

  4. Pingback: ADHD – A conspiracy? « fastexposure

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