Mental Health

Working On Us Week 19: ADHD

illustration of a brain encircled by the words mental health matters

It’s week 19 of the Working On Us mental health prompt series over at Beckie’s Mental Mess.  Please visit her post for guidelines on participation.

This week’s prompt

As I did last week, I am requesting bloggers to write a narrative by explaining how this disorder has affected your lifestyle and overall well-being.  I also request that you include the treatment (if any) you received as well as medications you may or may not take.  

Also note:  If you know of someone that has ADHD, you can share a story of their experiences through your eyes as well.

My response

I don’t have ADHD, but I thought I’d jump in on this topic anyway because I take dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) to help manage my depression, but its most common use is as an ADHD medication.  And it, along with other stimulant medications like Ritalin and Adderall, have a bad reputation.

The Netflix documentary Take Your Pills (which I wrote more about in Why is Netflix jumping aboard the stigma train) is basically one big anti-stimulant stigma party.  It includes interviews with two psychotherapists who claim that prescription stimulants are essentially the same thing as crystal meth.  Except unfortunately, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

People who take stimulant medications aren’t automatically addicts any more than people who take benzos for anxiety or opioids for pain.

When I take my Dexedrine, I don’t get a “high” from it.  If I miss a day, I don’t go through withdrawal, and there’s no difference in how I feel from one day to the next whether I take it or not.  If my dose is increased or decreased, it takes a couple of weeks before I start to perceive any difference.

I don’t have cravings for Dexedrine.  It doesn’t make me hyperalert and uber-productive; it just takes some of the edge off the slowing effect of the depression.  I don’t notice any effect on my energy.  It helps with my psychomotor retardation, but I consider that to be distinct from energy levels.

Pharmacies tend to get themselves quite worked up over the fact that I take Dexedrine.  I had one encounter where a pharmacist was harassing me and insisting on photo ID to pick up my Dexedrine.  That was the last time I ever went there.

Are there some people who abuse stimulants?  Sure.  There are also people who crush and snort the antidepressant Wellbutrin.  The antipsychotic Seroquel has street value.  People do stupid shit with anything they can get their hands on, including Tide Pods.  That’s no reason to harass people who are just trying to take their ADHD medication (or other appropriately ordered medication) as prescribed.

book cover: Psych Meds Made Simple by Ashley L. Peterson

Want to know more about psych meds and how they work? My first book, Psych Meds Made Simple, is available on Amazon and other online retailers. It’s everything you didn’t realize you wanted to know about medications.

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13 thoughts on “Working On Us Week 19: ADHD”

  1. I agree!! I’ve taken some allegedly addictive drugs at different times (klonopin, I think?), and I didn’t feel remotely addicted. And Seroquel–I can see that. I generally take it at bedtime and don’t experience the high of it, but when I take it as needed–like yesterday–it takes me places. Oh my gosh. But I don’t abuse that experience by ever taking Seroquel when I don’t need it, ya know? Taking it during the day when I was trying to go off Abilify was a godsend, and I’m glad I have Seroquel in my corner, but the implication that taking any psychiatric (or stimulant, etc.) drug leads to being addicted is offensive.

    As per the ADHD drugs, I’ve known so many parents who argued over it. One parent wanted the kid to take it, the other parent didn’t want their kid to take it. I don’t envy that predicament. This will sound weird, and it’s entirely anecdotal, but I think I avoided getting ADHD because my parents would take us on frequent 2-hour road trips up to Granny Franny’s house, and then 2 hours back the next day. At first I was bored senseless, but then I learned to pack loads of books and magazines for the ride. My sense is that modern-day kids never have to practice such focusing, and hence the major number of kids with attention issues.

  2. Hi, Ashley, Happy as always to have you participate on “Working on Us”, Week#19.
    I’m glad you shared that the medication Dexedrine helps with depression, and not just of that for persons with ADHD. One of my dear friends use on Adderall for a long while, then was switched to Dexedrine roughly a year ago for his ADHD.
    I’ve noticed that many medications can and have worked for different diagnosis. I mean, Wellbutrin was also used to assist people in quitting smoking. I was prescribed that for my depression 4 years ago. (In my case, it didn’t work). But, for another one of my friends it did help them for their depression. It really depends on the patient.
    Bringing up being carded for medication… That happened to me once at the Wal-mart I frequent. I went to their pharmacy for all of 6 months. They not only carded me, but had made a copy of my ID for their records, yet still requested my ID for when picking up Trazodone & Seroquel. Needless to say, they annoyed the crap out of me, and I went elsewhere and no longer get hassled.
    I remembered your post about the Netflix program, and never did watch it. I figured it was hokey, don’t bother.
    Most of my medications are taken at night, I don’t experience a high, nor would I want to… But, yes, a number of people sell benzo’s to get high on.
    I’m happy to hear that the Dexedrine works for you with your depression. It’s funny in a way, when your first book came out, “Psych Meds Made Simple”, I remembered reading about my own medications. It was tremendously helpful. One medication that was prescribed to me, Vraylar, didn’t state anywhere under side effects that tardive dyskinesia, (Involuntary movement) of my limbs would take place. After taking that for nearly three weeks, I had told my doctor to take me off it right away… I as so antsy it was horrible.
    My meds haven’t been tweaked in a while, since they have made me stable, but I hand it to you… That book came in very handy for when I described what was happening to me to my doctor.

    Thank you again, Ashley for being a part of “Working on Us”, We greatly appreciate your insight and experience. 💚

  3. I had no idea about seroquel, Ben takes that and trazodone and clonidine throughout the day to calm him. We tried ritalin for his ADHD but it made him grind his teeth more and he was also very aggressive.

    I took Provigil for a while to combat some of the brain fog but didnt like the side effects.

    People do stupid stuff indeed. Here in California if we want more than a dozen or so Sudafed we have to go to a pharmacist with photo ID and sign a book before we can get the OTC med. Because stupid people make meth with it.🙄

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