Thursday, March 09, 2006
I get by with a little help from my friends
If the statistics are trustworthy, they are staggering. The number of adults taking prescription drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has more than doubled in the past few years. Some of them, like Kim Majerowicz, whom I met recently in Baltimore, are glad to hear it.

Attractive, outgoing, and middle-aged, Kim runs her interior design business with energy and good humor. She says that just a few years ago, however, she could barely drag herself out of bed. She often ran late to appointments, lived in chaos, and felt as if she were failing as a parent, as a spouse, and as a person. Then she was diagnosed as ADHD, started taking medication, and everything changed for the better.

Her doctor, David Goodman, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, thinks wider prescribing of drugs might help other people too. He is concerned that as many as seven million adults in America are living with undiagnosed ADHD.

But other medical experts fear that many adults, in a complex and busy world, are watching drug company ads and convincing themselves that the pills used to treat ADHD -- stimulants -- can be used as simple performance enhancers, making them work better, faster, and with less fatigue. They call it drug abuse.

I know there are people who suffer from pronounced psychological conditions who doctors say are undeniably helped by these drugs. But I also know some doctors worry we might be too quickly "running for the shelter of Mother's Little Helper." What do you think?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 9:59 AM ET
  70 Comments
Multitasking is a myth--we can't do three things at once well. We're all harried trying to be everything to everyone. No matter how many technological advances we have, there is still only 24 hours in a day.

Perhaps if we collectively took a deep breath, prioritized, and stopped comparing ourselves to others we'd be in better mental place.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel Delgado, Philadelphia, PA : 10:31 AM ET
Adults with ADHD? Believe me, we are a society of over medicated people. In my practice we have people walk in every day asking for the most recent drug to be advertised on tv. Drug abuse dosn't just happen on the streets. As for children with ADHD - it is a real problem for some children. Calling ADHD medications "Mother's Little Helper" is a slap in the face to those parents dealing with a child with this disorder. The parents I see that deal with ADHD know that the medication isn't the total answer. - Diet and physical activity play a huge role. (By the way, most parents are forced to ask for medication / ADHD testing by school systems) As for adults wanting to work better, faster, harder and use drugs to do so... GROW UP!!!- Medical doctors that give these drugs for this reason...SHAME ON YOU!!!
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Raleigh, NC : 10:32 AM ET
Such a complicated issue. My daughter was diagnosed ADHD back in the early '80s before it was "trendy." I have absolutely no doubt that she benefited from it but it became the focus of our life as in "It's time for your pill...Did you take your pills? Oh no, we forgot your meds."

Now as as adult, my daughter would still benefit from something like ritalin but she is completely against being on medication at all, as a backlash.

I also believe that our lifestyles have created our ADHD; who says we were meant to be able to absorb the volume of details and information coming at us?
Posted By Anonymous jayne wallace, New York, NY : 10:35 AM ET
It is drug abuse. We are a country that works ourselves into the ground, then instead of realizing we have to slow down in order to let our bodies and minds catch up, we drug ourselves into thinking we are ok.

God forbid marijuana be legal in this country...the drug companies would have to compete with people growing drugs instead of them feeding them down our gullets.

How about some exercise, yoga, a healthy diet and some meditation in the morning before you start cramming the pills up our rears, doc?

Cheers,

~Chandler
Posted By Anonymous J.Chandler, Victimville CA : 10:36 AM ET
The untreated adult with ADHD is a family nightmare. They make horrendous
choices that can cause bankruptcy, constant family conflicts and if there are children in the family, serious saftey issues. Any adult not receiving treatment, which should include drug and behavior therapy, is a walking time bomb.
Posted By Anonymous Susan, Asheville, NC : 10:36 AM ET
I know that being diagnosed with ADHD was the best thing that ever happened with me. It allowed me to finally pursue a treatment that was actually effective. I had previously been diagnosed with a multitude of various disorders and put on medication for those. I didn't need those medications. It wasn't until I was an adult, 19 years old, I was finally diagnosed. It wasn't until I was nearly 22 that I was put on Ritalin. Finally, I understand how to use a day planner. I remember to return phone calls, pay bills and put my dishes in the sink. I don't argue or start fights with people in order to keep myself entertained. I am highly focused and driven in my school work, things that I wanted before but just couldn't ever seem to do. I'm calmer, I'm less impulsive, I sleep better and I am healthier over all. I would have to tend to agree there are many, many people undiagnosed with ALL types of mental illness, not just ADHD. The other issue you have to consider is that a majority of people with ADHD are co-morbid, or have another disorder along with the ADHD. Often times it's OCD, ODD, depression, or in my case, anxiety. Of all the horrible things that happens to undiagnosed people with ADHD and other mental illnesses, I can't understand why anyone would want to avoid diagnosing and medicating people who need it.
Posted By Anonymous Rebekah, Providence, RI : 10:37 AM ET
If people learned to meditate and practice technologies that teach them to focus their mind and organize their inner life, it would reflect to their outer life as organization and concentration. Bottom line, people do not educate themselves to concentrate and end up needing drugs to do this for them. How sad.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Yahazim, Arlington Heights, IL : 10:38 AM ET
Yes, let's have some more pills to make everything better. Drug companies are allowed to advertise at will and the weaker among us see a cure-all in every pretty little ad. We are becoming a society of pillheads who steadfastly refuse to take any responsibility for our own actions.
Posted By Anonymous A. Roy Olson, Tucson, AZ : 10:39 AM ET
It is incumbent upon a patient to guide their treatment as best they can by learning all of the options, perhaps by getting a second opinion, and then using the knowledge that they have, help their care provider to arrive at the most sensible diagnosis. For every doctor who "hands out prescriptions" there seems to be another who refuses to do so. Sometimes, one or the other are incorrect.

For example, it would be very difficult to treat bi-polar disease without benefit of the myriad of medicines that alleviate symptoms and allow patients to lead better, safer lives. True schizophrenia also would fall under that aegis -- lives made better by medicine.

ADHD may well fit that as well, but the catch is that because ADHD is treated generally by stimulants, a red light blinks in the minds of many. Powerful illegal drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine are also stimulants, and many fail to effectively make the difference between theurapeutic usage and management of this type of drug and uncontrolled abuse and self-medication from the black market of the illegal drug trade.

At the end of the day, however, the ADHD treatments you describe for Kim are legal, and if she and her health care providers think that this is the answer for her, and if this answer works, then it truly is no one's business but theirs.
Posted By Anonymous Charles Boyer, Raleigh, NC : 10:39 AM ET
At least with children the use of drugs like ritalin produces fairly obvious results. If they go up it is, at the least, not the drug of choice. If they come down then it does what it is supposed to do in ADHD patients. When it really works the result is dramatic. Also helpful is exercise and careful control of diet. Some foods or additives simply set the child off. I speak as the parent of an ADHD child.

He is now an adult and still on ritalin. I'm not so certain of appropriatness of use at his age.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Selah, WA : 10:43 AM ET
I think prescribing of drugs is out of hand in America today. "Crying ADHD" is rapidly (and unfortunately for those children and adults who do truly suffer from it) becoming a copout for a basic inability to discipline oneself.
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan, Trumbull, CT : 10:45 AM ET
I was diagnosed with ADHD in 10th grade in high school. I went from a C student to never missing the honor roll my last two years in High School. Got in to a top University and continued my success. Without the medication I was lost, but I feel I am in the minority. I believe this medication is over prescribed. You can tell the people that need the medication because it calms them down and helps them focus and rarely do you see that affect with people that take it.
Posted By Anonymous John, NYC : 10:46 AM ET
I would bet that a good portion of these "ADHD" people would benefit more from better nutrition and a healthier lifestyle.
Posted By Anonymous Chuck Seattle,Wa : 10:47 AM ET
I believe that better diagnosis and increased awareness of these disorders are reason for some increase of use of these drugs. I also agree that harried pace of American life has increased the want (not need) for Mother's Little Helper.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Dover, PA : 10:53 AM ET
I am now being treated for adult ADD (diagnosed at 34) and I see a tremendous difference in my life since I began taking the medication. The medication calms me - I am sleeping better and actually finishing tasks. I am learning to enjoy doing things slowly and my work is improving greatly. The bottom line is that someone taking medication for ADD should see a great deal of improvement almost immediately. If there is no improvement or only a little, then other problems should be considered.
Posted By Anonymous D. Wilson, Charleston, SC : 10:54 AM ET
I am a graduate student juggling work, school and ADHD. While in middle and high school, no one bothered to diagnose me because I was 1. Female, and 2. Performing well in school. Now, with the help of a drug called Provigil, I can study, work and perform in a way consistent with my peers. Before, I had to use various other coping mechanisms to try and get by, I feel as though the ADHD drugs help me to merely be on par with my peers. Are people abusing these drugs? Of course, just as people abuse depression drugs, pain killers and things as simple as coffee. What many people who don't struggle with this disorder do not understand is how pervasive it becomes in your life. Not only does it effect school performance, it also drags into your work and personal life. The amount of research and awareness of ADHD needs to continue to increase where people are being properly diagnosed, regardless of whether the drugs are being abused by a few.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Pillmore, Manayunk, Pennsylvania : 10:54 AM ET
I agree that theses medications have helped me greatly in the past. I was on riddelin, then adderal, untill the intense side effects after the adderal wore off became too much. I do think that we as americans are developing a dependency for theses grugs however. I was on the max. dose of adderal, twice a day due to my high, 15 yr old metabolism. It tore me apart. I have been unmedicated for almost 2 years now, and i desperatly feel the need to be on something. While my problems go deep beyond simply ADHD (bipolar, anxiety, etc...yes i said etc, thats the tip of the iceberg with me), I find myself wanting to simply settle for ADHD med. just so I can get something. I think that doctors today are to quick to perscribe medicines to people with only slight problems, so many kids today take adderal, prozak, abilify, etc. and they dont truely need it. We live in an over-medicated society in my opinion. some people just need to try and fix themselve (lifestyle changes, therapy, whatever) before we run to the medicine cabinet.
Posted By Anonymous Rob, Cincinnati Ohio : 10:55 AM ET
I absolutely think people abuse these drugs in order to keep up with today's fast paced world.

Maybe we need to re-examine the way we live and slow things down a bit. Our culture is really suffering if so many adults (AND children) need to be medicated just to get by in our society!
Posted By Anonymous dnice, belmar nj : 10:57 AM ET
Many college students are taking ADHD meds when they study because it makes them able to focus. But the drugs are not prescribed for studying, so they are getting them from other people. Not good, but students swear by it.
Posted By Anonymous Shelley DeBord, Las Vegas, NV : 10:57 AM ET
I have taken Adderall for over 1 year now, and it has made a profound difference in my work habits, efficiency, etc. It keeps me focused throughout the day, and it also helps me retain information quickly and easily.
Posted By Anonymous Albert (Cincinnati, Ohio) : 10:57 AM ET
These drugs are akin to speed - they keep you up but barely improve focus and performance. If armies of insomniacs is what we want then these drugs are the solution.
Posted By Anonymous Randy Jack, Arlington, VA : 10:58 AM ET
I think Americans are over-drugged to the point where it is becoming an epidemic. I'm sure that some people, like Kim Majerowicz, do need the drug; but so many people, children especially, do not. I personally believe that ADHD has become such a scapegoat for everything that is deemed "not normal". The rest of the world is getting by just fine without medicating themselves for every little dysfunction.
Posted By Anonymous Ursula, Wheaton, IL : 10:59 AM ET
A friend of mine is a 'supermom' wannabe. So when she tried to convince us and herself she was ADHD she immediatly was put on medication. I think with the rush of today's society and the general doctor's eagerness to move on to the next patient it is very easy to get any medicine you want. All you have to do is research the drug and it's use, look for the symptoms to use the drug and just say all of those things and Boom! You've got whatever you want. I live in a heavily populated suburb and a majority are stay at home moms, with the pressure of doing everything. We even have "Volunteer of the Month" at our public schools just to make you feel pressured and these women will compete. It's amazing how many of the moms I know who are abusing drugs (legally and not) to keep up with the Joneses. There is so much more to be said on this subject. What's really crazy is they can be so hopped up on speed and whatever to get through the day and they actually think they're fooling people.
Posted By Anonymous K Larsen, Ft. Worth,TX : 10:59 AM ET
I have adult ADHD. I strongly apposed using medication when I was diagnosed with the condition. It took my me almost losing everything to see that ADHD is like any other diease. Medication in many cases is the only way to cure a vast majority of people. Oh course, as with all new revelations in medicans that involve stimulants there will be some abuse, but for those who really need the medication, it is a blessing.
Posted By Anonymous Rodrick, Birmingham Al : 11:00 AM ET
Boy the stories I can tell. I am a 39 year old professional who was diagnosed with ADHD years ago and was prescribed many different stimulant medications. I found that most doctors, though wanting to help, usually just prescribe these meds willy-nilly while only taking a rudimentary history about the condition. I quickly began abusing the medications (Adderall, Ritalin) and almost died once. I also lost a marriage. It was crazy. I'm not blaming ADHD medications per se, I absolutely believe they are valid and have their plece. The medications worked for me when I did take them as prescribed but because doctors (in Seattle at least) generally didn't question me about addiction, it quickly became a spiral of abuse for me.
Posted By Anonymous R Becker., Kansas City, MO : 11:00 AM ET
Are you just now figuring this out, dude? ADHD medications are so easy to get and a lucrative prescription to sell. Why don't you check out college campuses, too? Just yesterday I watched a guy grind up a pill and suck it up his nose.
Posted By Anonymous John Disco, Milledgeville, GA : 11:01 AM ET
Having been prescribed Ritalin since 1990 when I was 37 years old, I can certainly stand behind the benefits if the drugs are used correctly and with proper medical validation. But I am also aware that teenagers as well as adults are massively misusing the medications as simply "speed". It almost makes it tempting, in these uncertain economic times, to put up with being a mindless confused chaotic me and sell my standard monthly supply of 120 pills at the current underground rate of $10 to $40 a pill. But I did say "almost", you'll note.
Posted By Anonymous Susan Burke, Olathe, KS : 11:01 AM ET
Regarding the ADHD drug use by adults. It comes down to a quality of life both short term and long term, and follow-up by the doctors precribing them. I would submit that if these drugs do make a difference without negative side effects, they are improving not only the people taking them but those around them. Last, it seems to me that it would also not only set in motion a quality of life but also augment health quality overall as well.
Posted By Anonymous Margaret, Orlando, Fl : 11:02 AM ET
So I guess the college students abusing these drugs grew up and got real jobs.

How is this different from feeding our kids Ritalin?

As long as no one gets hurt and the Pharmaceutical Industry gets their cut, nothing will change, will it?
Posted By Anonymous Seth, Clemson, SC : 11:04 AM ET
I agree, but it probably will never see any daylight or time in the press. They are all too busy with bringing down guys like Bonds who take some performance enhancing drugs to play better. Meanwhile, people are downing amphetamines like candy, smoking two packs a day, and drinking far too much.

Ahhh, this country is a mess.
Posted By Anonymous Jimmy Vespe, Culver City, Ca : 11:05 AM ET
I agree with the medical experts that you quote in your excerpt that say it is "drug abuse". I can tell you that there are even more teenagers getting this type of medication from their friends based on the fact that it is advertised to increase your alertness and give you energy. I have even heard of people taking their kids medication because their physician won't prescribe it for them. This is the valium of the new generation and I think you are going to find out that it is getting way out of hand.
Posted By Anonymous Kris, Rogers AR : 11:05 AM ET
I was diagnosed with adult ADD 10 years ago. I didn't take it seriously until this year when I read the book Driven to Distraction. The case studies in the book were so true to my story that I was moved to tears several times. Since then I have actively sought treatment and am seeing a doctor who has extensive experience with ADD patients. I was always very cautious and even skeptical about the medication I was given. My doctor assured me that the tiny dosage of a stimulant called Focalin he prescribed, which has dramatically changed my ability to get through life, would hardly be noticeable if taken by someone who did not have ADD. This leads me to believe that the average person without ADD would have to take a staggering amount of an ADD medication to be able to benefit or enhance performance.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Seattle WA : 11:05 AM ET
My wife suffers of a chronic disease (it is not ADHD)that diminishes her concentration and memory to the extreme where she cannot perform her duties at work efficiently. She was prescribed PROVIGIL, only half a tablet for work days only. Since then, she has performed as well prior to her illness. I tried the medication one day because I was unable to concentrate. The effect is immediate. However, I do not recommend the use of any medication without doctor's assistance. There are secondary effects that are not worth the use of the prescription. I am currently looking for natural ways to improve concentration, which include better sleep, diet and exercise.
Posted By Anonymous Ricky S, Tampa, FL : 11:06 AM ET
It seems that these prescription drugs - specifically those for treating ADHD- have some benefit for most adults. They increase concentration, provide added energy and help people use more hours of a day than ever before. However, what are we really treating? Are they actually treating a psychological disorder called ADHD, or are they treating the American lifestyle? Have we, as a culture, become so addicted to "efficiency" that we are willing to treat normal bodily cues such as exhaustion and hunger with stimulant drugs?

By the way - I also know many people who are using these meds for weight loss purposes. Healthy?
Posted By Anonymous Natalie, Boston, MA : 11:06 AM ET
This is simply a story not worthy of CNN. You're basically pondering the question: Gee, I wonder if adults are abusing amphetamines and amphetamine-like compounds? This can best be answered with the age old question of similar merit: Does a bear.........?
Posted By Anonymous Andy Baton Rouge, Louisiana : 11:06 AM ET
With the side-effect of ritalin and other ADHD drugs, I would rather go through some natural regimen to restore my concentration. Exercise,
relaxation, chiropractic care and most of all, glyconutrients, can all help me concentrate better.
Posted By Anonymous Willie, Short Hills, NJ : 11:07 AM ET
The drugs that address ADHD work differently for people who have the 'brain wiring' that marks the condition. Many who fall into alcoholism and drug addiction do so in a quest to self-medicate this condition. Since getting the diagnosis (only after my son was diagnosed), and being prescribed Concerta, my life has improved in every way possible. I am far less impulsive, though I have not lost the ability to be spontaneous. This means a great deal to those around me: I am much easier to live with than I used to be. I focus on one thing at a time, not EVERYTHING at once; life makes sense. The key is that adults who have wondered why they can't turn the noises off and "just concentrate harder" ought to get themselves evaluated. Blind prescribing for ANY condition is and always will be dangerous and inappropriate. For those of us who "qualify", though, it's the answer. I am personally very grateful that more and more is being understood about this difficulty---and its remediation.
Posted By Anonymous Mark Hoops, Hopewell Junction, NY : 11:07 AM ET
I am 30 and started taking ADHD drugs about a year ago. They have really helped by ability to get things done. They also make me more willing to speak up and relax. I have never taken more than the prescription recommends (except for when I took the Bar exam), but I feel a little guilty about it all.
Posted By Anonymous Jude, Cleveland, OH : 11:07 AM ET
Anyone who has been to college recently can tell that one of the most widely abused drugs is Adderall. Many who abuse it are not ADHD and use it to "cram" before exams.
Posted By Anonymous MGumpel - Houston, TX : 11:07 AM ET
I suppose I'll be in the minority, but perhaps, just perhaps, there's another reason why people can't deal with their lives. It's not because they have some underlying medical/psychological problem. It's because they're lazy, don't want to take responsibility for anything, and want to whine and complain about how 'life is tough', too tough for them to get things done. If you think about generations gone by, they had a lot more things to deal with, and a lot more work to do, without all the modern conveniences, and they managed. Nowadays it's so easy to blame it all on "something" and pop a pill and think that everything's fixed. It's time for people to deal with their lives in a responsible manner. Here's a novel idea: if you don't think you can deal with kids, don't have them! If working outside and inside the home makes you want/need to take medications to get through your day, don't work! If you need a prescription to be 'the perfect spouse', stay single! How is this increased dependence on drugs going to help anyone, in the long run?...well, except the pharmaceutical companies, of course.
Posted By Anonymous Nancie, Newfoundland, Canada : 11:07 AM ET
If a consenting adult feels that these drugs make their life better than who are we to tell them its wrong. Who is better equipped to determine if something is abuse or not than the person being helped or hurt by the drug? My body. My choice. When will the Nanny-state trust us to make our own decisions?
Posted By Anonymous Ben Henry, Los Angeles, CA : 11:08 AM ET
My ex-girlfriend had apparently been diagnosed as having ADHD, and takes Ritalin daily. Whilst under the influence of Ritalin, she behaves more like a speed addict than someone needing to focus better.

And while I don't know whether this ADHD drug made her more productive, I can say for sure that it most certainly made her less loving, less emotionally capable, etc. In short, it completely changed her to the point that she was a totally different person.

I've got to think there are better ways of curing ADHD than with such drugs.
Posted By Anonymous PN, New York, NY : 11:08 AM ET
The use of all medications for psychiatric problems are over prescribed. People want a quick fix and just like alcohol abuse, many times these drugs are used to put the real problems on the back burner. People need to work through their problems and deal with them, quit running from them. This is difficult and painful at times but worth it in the end. There are some cases that do require medication. But the problem is everyone reading this will rationalize and think yes I am the one who really needs the medication. But look at the news these meds don't seem to be making people better, just dependent on the meds. And I dislike all the advertisements for medications, we are making a society of drug dependent hypochondriacs.
Posted By Anonymous Kathleen Wilkins RN Bountiful, Utah : 11:09 AM ET
Ritalin, Adderall and the others are mixed amphetamines. Yes...each of them are. One of them even begins with the four letters Meth.
So, what do we have here?
A fight for lives due to the danger of Meth...all the while doctors push Ritalin, etc. on the kids and adults.
I guess the entire theory is that if the doc gives it then it must be good. But if a drug dealer gives it its not?
I would like for all readers to look up how the ADD/ADHD medications work and why they make you feel "better". The same thing happens with Meth street drugs. Same affect on the brain. Please educate yourself and stop being a doped America. No matter where you get your meds...pharmacy, doc or the streets....unfortunately...you're just simply a drug addict. There are natural alternatives...I swear.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Truett Enterprise Alabama : 11:09 AM ET
There will always be those who abuse drugs and doctors too quick to medicate. The key is the right doctor and the proper screening.

I believe the high number of adults taking ADHD drugs is because adults are
being better educated about the condition. This education comes as a result of parents of ADHD children realizing they have struggled with the disorder all of their life. Apparently, the major cause of ADHD is genetics.
Posted By Anonymous J.L. Newell Nashville, TN : 11:09 AM ET
As adults we can make informed decisions about how or what we to to our bodies. The constant nanny approach to our society is appalling, free will dictates that if people choose to use it is their choice, what is wrong with an alert, productive adult?
Posted By Anonymous terrence Curran Los Angeles Ca. : 11:11 AM ET
I agree with this concern. Working in a creative industry I seem to find that many people use ritalin or drugs to help them focus and give them more energy. Some of these drugs have the same qualities as speed which leaves me with the impression that it could work almost anyone. I wonder how much reseach has gone into how normal people preform while on these drugs. If it also assists "normal" people then it could lead to wide spread substance abuse.
Posted By Anonymous Beth Klein NYC : 11:12 AM ET
If people are helped, on balance, then the label ought to be irrelevant. The problem with drug abuse is that the user (and those around him or her), on balance, are harmed by the activity. We should not be alarmed unless, and until, we see clear evidence of harm to the person taking the medication, or to those around him or her.
Posted By Anonymous Stuart, Washington, DC : 11:12 AM ET
I can tell you it's been very hard for me to find a doctor that is not more willing to push a prescription drug for what ever my illness is to alleviate the symptoms, rather than find the cause and try to cure it.

I'm sure it's due to the "Quick Fix" mentality of today's fast paced world.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer - Lakehurst,NJ : 11:13 AM ET
As a young adult who has been diagnosed with ADHD I feel people don't really the need the medicine, it's all a mental thing. I took Ritalin in high school and I saw my grades soar, but when I got to college I stopped taking it I maintained a strong GPA, earning a 4.0 in graduate school. If people want to feel in control prioritize your life and make a to-do list. Drugs whether they are legal or not lead to host of other problems including dependence, we have become a culture that instead of taking responsibility for things we pop a pill and say see you in the morning. It all stems from our need for instant gratification, if people would just take a break and look at what is going on in their life I think they would be better off than popping a pill, I know I am.
Posted By Anonymous Melissa, Normal, IL : 11:13 AM ET
many of us run for the shelter of coffee every morning because we think it will enhance our performance. i have heard it said that coffee has a high antioxidant content, but also that it may lead to heart problems.

unless a solid effort based in genetics, biochemistry and neuroscience can explain to the public what ADHD means and what its drugs do, the public's decision-making process regarding taking those drugs will be like the decision to drink coffee.

furthermore, the premise that there might be something at stake for the non-ADHD user is questionable; where is the evidence that says these users are doing themselves any kind of harm?

these are valuable discussions. this and the coming decades will see an enormous boon in "cognitive performance enhancing" drugs, and some of them may not be as benign as the current ones.
Posted By Anonymous Lennox Barry, Houston, TX : 11:20 AM ET
Rubbish.
ADD /ADHD is a neurological disorder.Yes there are behavior modification techniques that work to enhance the life of some withh ADD. But for many proper use of medications is the only way they can live a " normal " life.
Posted By Anonymous Emes , New ork NY : 11:21 AM ET
I was diagnosed w/ ADHD about four years ago and started taking Ritallin. It has been a God send! I am able to focus and do my job more efficiently, and yes, it is does keep me more alert as well.
Unfortunately I feel that a lot of people are either misdiagnosed or labeled as ADHD because it is easier to just prescribe a drug and move on to the next patient, rather than use due diligence and make a proper diagnosis.
Posted By Anonymous Travis Milwaukee, WI : 11:21 AM ET
Nothing seems new in this. Look at food, alchool.. etc. Although they are regulated prescriptions that are made available through regualted channels, they are subject to abuse if not properly used or misused per conceived desires. I appluad for the geniune diagnosis use for some of us do need them. Let not a few bad apples spoil the beneficial use of these drugs.
Posted By Anonymous Mr. Malema, Davies : 11:22 AM ET
I buy adderal XR off the street and take an average dose every morning. I honestly don't think I could compete in today's society without it.

Sad but true.
Posted By Anonymous Matt, New York NY : 11:22 AM ET
Does this affect anyone other than those taking the dugs? If the drug makes them feel better then God bless 'em. It's their choice and their body. Who really cares if the underlying problem is ADHD. These people are alert and upbeat enjoying the stimulant's effects. Let them eat drugs. It doesn't affect any of us!
Posted By Anonymous John Muskus - Willington, CT : 11:22 AM ET
Legalized drug abuse is what I call it. Wonder why are children are experimenting or addicted to drugs, alcohol and others? The are no longer taboo and haven't been in a long while. They've grown up watching their parents take a pill for everything--got a stuffy nose, take a pill, got a backache, take a pill, take a pill, take a pill--what's the diff where it comes from? They just want it to go away and fast. They are all drugs. Doctors and drug companies really don't want to help people, they just want to make a good living. And all these old people on tons of meds! Don't get me started.
Posted By Anonymous Debra Chelsea, MI : 11:24 AM ET
I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 36 and started taking Adderall. My mother-in-law, who is a pharmacists assistant, told me that it is very similar to "speed." It felt like it, too. I hated how it made me feel and switched to Stratterra, a non-stimulant. This has helped me greatly. I would hope doctors would go for this drug first instead of the stimulants. However, the longer history of the stimulants in treating ADHD make it a choice thought to be more reliable.
Posted By Anonymous Jerry, Mobile, AL : 11:24 AM ET
Drug dependency is drug dependancy no matter what spin is put on it. It's not part of a healthy life style. Every single person alive has to cope with day to day problems, that's simply a part of living. Drugs don't solve those problems, they just throw a blanket over them so that the person is not as bothered by them. The crackhead on the corner is trying to escape the same mental pressures as the over-worked housewife with five kids.

It's a sinister and slipery slope, but hey, people love their drugs.
Posted By Anonymous Rob Magiera, Salt Lake City, Utah : 11:26 AM ET
It definitely helps students during exam week. Not that I'm lending creedence to your argument, just stating a fact...
Posted By Anonymous Monkchichi Atlanta, GA : 11:26 AM ET
We have become a quick fix nation. My head hurts, aspirin.I cant sleep, sleeping pills. I'm flustered, ritalin.Where's the resilience that our parents had?
Posted By Anonymous Dee Moore Central Islip, NY : 11:27 AM ET
Wouldn't it be wonderful if all one had to do to get control of an over secheduled and overwelming life was to take a pill ? The fact of the matter is that for most americans, the diagnosing of ADHD is primarily a response to our culture of chaos and the challenges people face in a very stressful america. Although there may be some who could benefit from medication, I would argue that there are many more americans who simply need to slow down and learn to communicate and respond more effectively to stress rather then numb it with potentially dangerous ADHD medication.This medication is extremely easy to get. All it takes is telling a physician that you can't focus or keep track of things and voila! The drug is in your hands. What are the long term consequences of prescribing this medication to millions of americans? An addicted america. And isn't that what we are fighting a drug WAR for? It's ultimately a typical american response to the hard questions we need to ask. All we really want as usual is an instant solution. Is that what we are going to get? No.
Posted By Anonymous kris stoffer hailey idaho : 11:27 AM ET
Traditionally, drug abuse has been a term attached to the overuse of substances for recreational use. Cocaine, heroin, steroids and alcohol are all examples of drugs used in recreational settings that produce physical and/or psychological addiction and can result in early death for heavy users. Along the way, users drop out of society to pursue their addictions and become liabilities rather than contributors to their communities.

Should we include drugs like Ritalin in this group? People take ADHD medication, not to drop out, but to become more productive in their own lives. It's taken specifically to enhance thinking and attention, not to dull it. To a certain extent, people ingest caffeine to attain the same goals. This is a critical difference, in my opinion, that separates users of ADHD drugs from traditional recreational users. I would never advocate the casual overuse of ANY chemical chemical substance known to cause harm in the long run, but with these new drugs, a new pattern of behavior is emerging.

Every decade our knowledge of the human brain becomes more detailed and identification and treatment of mental disease becomes more refined. Along the way, some of us are going to ask, "How can we use this knowledge as a tool to better ourselves?" It is time to rethink old notions of drug abuse to better deal with the capabilities and opportunities our science has brought us.
Posted By Anonymous Robert G, Niskayuna, NY : 11:28 AM ET
Not too long ago I had a conversation with a friend who takes medication for his so-called ADHD. This person is also an avid pot smoker so I had to question whether is symptoms were due to smoking or if he truly had issues with being unfocused, etc. His response what that "yes" he has ADHD, his doctor told him so. He took all the tests, etc. Well, he also confided that he doesn't need to use the medication all the time. Only when he needs to be really focused or if he needs to stay up all night because he's waiting on an overseas business call. And the occasional use of wanting to stay up and party.
This doesn't sound to me like someone who truly had ADHD and why does his doctor continue to give him the medication? It's too easy to get and overdiagnosed in my opinion.
Posted By Anonymous Whitney, Austin, TX : 11:28 AM ET
I go to prep school in Connecticut, and many kids who are not diagnosed with ADHD take drugs meant for kids with ADHD, to help them concentrate and stay up for a few extra hours to write a paper, study for a test, etc. It's gotten to the point where the school is forced to collect and dispense these medications at the health center.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Rye, New York : 11:28 AM ET
I have watched my brother-in-law convince himself and his psychiatrist that he has ADHD. I have watched his addiction to the medication spin out of control even though his side effects are hard to miss. He does not sleep much anymore, nor does he eat much. He has also become extremely paranoid.

How many people actually read the side effects section of these ads? I recently saw an ad in TV Guide, of all places, that list schizophrenic behavior as a side effect. How likely are people to use these drugs if they understand what really can happen to them?
Posted By Anonymous Kay Rankin, Los Angeles, CA : 11:29 AM ET
Funny you should ask this question when I just returned from my psychotherapist who is working with me on the counseling side of treatment for ADHD. I have the condition, whether or not it's a disorder is still being studied. But, I am definitely impaired at work & home with all of the symptoms of ADHD.
I do take medication, but for the medication to be most effective, counseling or some type of coaching is needed to learn how to "conform" to our modern life commitments.
There is an interesting theory by Thom Hartmann, a psychotherapist, who explains the condition as being a hunter in a farmer's world. Perhaps a genetic component passed down from our hunter/gatherer ancestors.
There are more people out there with this condition, whatever it is. We are not inferior just different thinkers, who don't seem to fit in a desk job.
Thomas Edison is thought to have ADHD, along with many other inventors and visionaries. Where would we be without us?
The medication does help, but it's not a cure, and isn't really anything I think would be worth abusing, anyway. You mention "Momma's little helper", that was Valium, if I am not mistaken. That's used to treat depression, not ADHD.
Thanks for asking this question today, but can you change the sensational headliner, to something like, "Are enough adults getting proper treatment for ADHD, which includes counselling, to be effective." A little wordy, I know.
Posted By Anonymous Andrew J. Johnson, Lakeland, Florida : 11:29 AM ET
As a very busy college student juggling school, work, and a normal social life, adderall has been a lifesaver. I usually only take it when I know there are things that I have to get done, such as a deadline for a major project. The ability it has to make me focused, and keep me focused is amazing. Although I do think it is abused, I also think there are several benefits to this and drugs like it.
Posted By Anonymous Triste Richmond,va : 11:30 AM ET
As a college student, I see abuse of ADHD medication frequently. People tend to pop a pill or crush it up and snort it before they need to get a lengthy paper completed. Does this affect the academic playing field, so to speak? I think so- it's like a ballplayer doing steroids.

We're prescribing more children more medicine, and those children grow up-- just like any habit, some are more healthy than others.

Any drug can be abused. Some are just more prevalent or have more apparent benefits than others.
Posted By Anonymous David, New York, New York : 11:31 AM ET
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