Do You Believe In Meds?

One ADHD-related topic in which perspective is important, is meds. I’m not for meds or against them, but I am against making life-effecting decisions base on bad information.

I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t consider meds, but they would take a “natural” stimulant to help with their ADHD symptoms. I’ve heard people say they won’t take meds because no drug is 100% safe. I’ve heard people say that the drugs commonly used to treat the symptoms of ADHD are not well studied. I’ve heard people say they won’t give their child meds because of fear of drug abuse. I’ve heard people say they don’t want treatment because they want to “handle it spiritually.”

What I hear in each of these positions is a tightly held belief, a single perspective.

The people who tell me they will only take “natural” remedies, I wonder if they know that many of our most potent drugs and most potent poisons are from natural sources? The people who tell me they won’t take meds because no drug is 100% safe (which is true, not even aspirin is 100% safe), I wonder if they know that statistically, people with untreated ADHD are at much higher risk for serious accidents, for substance abuse, for depression, and for interpersonal problems including on-the-job problems and divorce? The people who tell me that the meds used for ADHD are not well studied, I wonder if they know that there isn’t a drug in our pharmacopeia that is as well studied as stimulants for the treatment of ADHD. The people who are afraid of drug addiction, I wonder if they know that ADHD kids who are appropriately treated with ADHD meds are actually less at risk than their peers for developing substance abuse? The people who tell me they want to “handle it spiritually”, I wonder if they think ADHD is a moral failing, and don’t realize ADHD is well documented to be based in neurological differences?

Some people don’t have a choice. Meds don’t work for everyone. I’ve been told that meds work beautifully for about 20% of the population. You take your meds, and just like that, all the difficulties with attention are gone. You never need to do anything else. For about 20% of the population they don’t work at all. If you’re one of these people, then you need to really work on environmental and lifestyle changes in order to live well with ADHD. And for the remaining 60% of the population, well, you’re somewhere in between. You’ll have to experiment with your meds and change your habits in order to be more effective more of the time.

I am not for meds or against them. I stand for whatever works best for you. And what works best for you is an equation that balances personal preferences, finances, life style, etc. What I can’t stand, is when someone makes a life-effecting decision based on bad information (e.g. the hyperbole that often passes for news in our media, or the advice of well meaning friends who probably don’t have the expertise to give medical advice). Whether to take meds, or not, is a very important personal question. I just hope you make your decision based on accurate information and the pros and cons, from more than one perspective, on how to live best with ADHD.