by Mason Haynie
The current situation on how society looks at ADHD and it's response
What Are We Talking About?
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental and physical difference between people that can show an array of widespread symptoms like the inability to focus, which is common among many adolescent boys. But is far less common and more disabling than is commonly thought and should be treated as such. From my point of view as someone with ADHD, everybody today who thinks they have ADHD. That thought process has turned into the mass amounts of high school and college kids being on amphetamine-based class II narcotics such as Adderall.
ADHD, in essence, is small biological differences in the brain that occur through the brain's pathing and even development. People afflicted by it can show a multitude of symptoms such as lack of focus, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. This can lead to having a slow attention span, not being able to sit still, or even getting done menial tasks. It usually presents in people at early childhood and becomes a problem when they get older and school starts to become more difficult. Again, many people have had their fair share of not paying attention and their procrastination, but ADHD takes these mishaps to a whole new level.
I myself am trying to sit down and write paragraph, and I am having trouble forming the next sentence since my hair looks funny in my headset in the reflection of the monitor, which then causes me to mess with it for the next three minutes. Then I start thinking about my shaking foot going back and forth, splitting my focus.
Pieces of ADHD that affect me include not being able to focus, to sit still, and probably the worst, to stop procrastinating. This is because I know I have something to do, but I get so apprehensive about the task that I decide to do other things that are more enjoyable and distract me from what I need to do because I know when I go to do it how hard it is going to be. I like to think of my mind as a crowded restaurant full of people talking and cutlery clinking. I am able to hear and pay attention to so many things at the same time, but the intensity and time spent on each aspect are quite little. It's the opposite of tunnel vision. Unless I concentrate with all my willpower, my scope of focus is very wide and does not extend far.
How people are affected by ADHD ranges widely. The main practice for dealing with it is drugs, but one size does not fit all. When a neuro-typical person drinks a heavily caffeinated Starbucks coffee in the morning, it perks them right up for the day ahead. The strange thing is that the worse one's ADHD the more the coffee does not affect them. The prescription given by psychiatrists has this same effect of caffeine on a neuro-typical person. In other words, Adderall is like caffeine for neuro-typical people for someone with ADHD. The drugs given to patients are mainly amphetamine based. You are probably reading this thinking, "Amphetamine? Why do I know that?" Probably because amphetamines are in the same chemical group as crystal-meth. People afflicted by ADHD have some psychical difference in their brain when they absorb stimulants. When one of my friends takes Adderall, Focalin, or Ritalin, he gets a euphoric feeling along with an altered sense of focus and seemingly endless energy. Sounds a lot like someone with ADHD... huh. When someone with ADHD takes any stimulant, it's effects differ because each drug fixes different symptoms. When a person with ADHD finds the right drug, they become more neuro-typical but without any euphoria. This is one of the ways that physicians can figure out if one truly has ADHD. This effect goes for people with ADHD for all stimulants, including caffeine, nicotine, the previously mentioned prescription drugs, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Before I was diagnosed with ADHD or even thought of the possibility of having it, I would go to my high school an hour early, buy a Mountain-Dew Kickstart, and sit down and do my homework before class. I was told this is self-medicating.
The obvious issue that can arise from what ADHD patients are prescribed is that all of these drugs are class II narcotics, meaning they are highly addictive and also highly sought after. Just as with any hard drug, one can gain a physical and mental addiction to whatever they are taking. About two years ago, I took 25 mg of Focalin every 4 hours. If I was 15 minutes late to my next dosage, which I had been taking for quite some time, I would get an unstoppable headache that wouldn't go away even with the next dose. This obviously is not something that someone should want, which is why it is important for people to weigh their pros and cons before deciding to take something like this. It should really only be taken if a person is in great need of a neuro-typical lifestyle.
There are a large portion of people that say that they have all the checks listed for ADHD on WebMD and that they "definitely" have it. Far too many people have ADHD because it "says so online" thus marginalizing those who actually have it. Thus, many do not think the disorder exists. Although it is 2019 and many institutions are getting with the times and acknowledging its existence and giving help for it, it is not always societally accepted. This can be due to many college kids seek the drugs used that should be reserved 100% for those afflicted. Many college kids will walk into a psychiatrist's office and go through the steps to get a script so they can better study for finals or have more fun at parties and even sell doses for a pretty penny. Another practice that further marginalizes those with ADHD.
I think that the widespread distribution of ADHD drugs is also affected by the current opioid epidemic in America. The accessibility of opioids such as OxyContin and OxyCodone through prescriptions has opened the floodgates to the legal use of drugs by those who are not in need. The scary part is that ADHD drugs are not just addictive but also have long terms effects on one's heart and create weight loss.
Hopefully in the coming years, society will be more stringent on accessibility to hard drugs and this mental illness will be taken more seriously and researched more carefully. Only those who really need it should take these dangerous prescription drugs.