Thinking twice before taking medication for ADD and ADHD
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are conditions that many people have to live with and adapt to every day of their lives. The most popular solution is to seek out medication. How can we tell when people use the idea of this disorder as a crutch, or if they are actually struggling to succeed with the disorder?
The Center of Disease Control and Prevention suggests that in the US ten percent have ADHD and that the affliction will follow them into adulthood. In colleges and universities across the nation, many students are taking medications such as Ritalin or Adderall to help them focus and study. Commonly called “smart pills”, these medications are essentially stimulants and increase the types of neurotransmitters that don’t make it across the synaptic gaps easily in those of us who have ADHD. However, in many cases it has been found that students abuse the medication to help them study all night or achieve better focus.
According to the PCC Courier, Dr. Gail Ellis of Pasadena City College looked into the use of ADHD medication in college students and concluded that even though these “smart pills” may be seen as a relatively safe drug, the safer alternative is a simple cup of coffee.
That’s right, the stimulation people look for to help them study is also found in a quick buzz of caffeine. It seems as though we are unnecessarily medicating people, especially when those with ADHD frequently self-medicate through use of energy drinks and coffees. This is why many people are skeptical with the idea that ADHD is such a problem. Does that mean we should disregard the disorder and the need for medication? Not really.
These medications don’t affect everyone in the same way. If you don’t have ADHD, the effects are very different than if you did. In 2010, I was diagnosed with the disorder. My psychiatrist knew I had it when the medications worked but I hated the effects of being on them. I was also warned that prescription ADHD medication would be a stimulant to others, and therefore almost desirable. But for me it would make me feel very calm and solemn. While I stopped taking medication because I didn’t like the feeling of not being myself, I found working on a better diet, exercise and organization could see me through college. Others at Union College do take things such as Ritalin, Adderall or Vyvanse, and function quite well. Union College also offers the services of the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), as ADHD is classified as a learning disability and those with it are entitled to accommodations such as longer time on tests if they need it.
Even though some people may choose to take medication, there are still other options. No one solution for ADHD may work for every person with the disorder—which is why we need to be open minded. It isn’t a life altering disability, but it is something people live with everyday.
Jordan is a senior studying psychology.