Last night’s broadcast of 60 Minutes (CBS) confirmed my worst nightmares: that ADHD meds will become so popular they will be treated as “brain candy” instead of as a medical necessity for people with brains like ours.
College students agreed that pill popping is rampant on campus, especially with stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. They take them to stay up late studying; they take them to finish papers; they take them to focus on tests.
Apparently the stimulants are prescribed for truck drivers who are on the road for hours; and even doctors who work double shifts. But hey, back in my college days, didn’t we do the same thing? Except the drug of choice then was No-Doz, 200 mg of caffeine concentrated in little white pills.
I went online to see if NoDoz was still around. Yep, it’s still sold and it’s a lot cheaper than Adderall or Ritalin. College students said Ritalin was selling for $3-$5 per pill. A bottle of 60 NoDoz costs only $9 online. Free shipping, too..
My fear is not that college students will get hooked on Adderall. My fear is that Adderall and its ilk will become so commonplace that their legitimacy as treatment for ADHD will be diminished, dismissed or even discarded.
The non-ADHD students interviewed by Katie Couric said they could focus better, they could read fine details even about uninteresting information. That’s sure not what they do for the ADHD brain. I have clients who take their ADHD meds faithfully but still can’t keep their attention on the chapter or the math problem or the To Do list. The pills help us pay attention; but sometimes we veer off into worlds of focus that have nothing to do with the original task.
So, let’s be clear here. Just because everybody can take stimulants and gain some focus, it doesn’t mean that ADHD isn’t a valid diagnosis. We’re out here. We still need our meds. And even if we forget to take a few each month, we shouldn’t be sharing them (and especially not selling them) to all of the rest of you out there.
I guess it makes the drug companies happy. I guess students are happy and perhaps their professors.
I’m not so happy.