Wednesday, October 26, 2005

ADHD: It Isn't Just for Breakfast Anymore

I read a troubling article about ADHD over at MSNBC last week. I didn't feel it was written well. It wasn't so much its grammar as much as its facts. No mention of side effects. No mention of alternatives. Just heaps and heaps of numbers showing how vogue this little "abnormality" of mine has become. Oh, and an entire family that is happily taking stimulants to help them concentrate.

ADHD isn't just for kids anymore these days adults are being diagnosed with it in record numbers. New data released from Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefits manager, indicates that about 1.5 million adults between the ages of 20 and 64 are currently taking medication to treat attention problems, up from 758,000 in 2000—and most of them were diagnosed well into adulthood. While there are still more kids taking ADHD medication—about 3.5 million—Dr. David Goodman, director of the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center in Baltimore, expects the number of adults taking the drugs to continue to rise. "Many adults who for years have been called lazy, crazy or stupid," says Goodman, "are realizing the problem may be in their brain."

On one hand, I am happy to see people learning that they are not lazy, crazy, or stupid. My self-esteem was too dependent on the opinions of my teachers and instructors when I was younger. I spent years undoing their damage. People should not be downtrodden because of the ignorance of others. But the enthusiastic embracing of stimulants as magic pills does make me nervous. What can you expect? I took them over thirteen years ago and now I have Chronic Motor Breakdancing Disorder. If I had some sort of rhythm when I ticked I might consider it a trade off, but too often I just look like Steve Martin in the Jerk. I'd only wish this sort of side effect on my most left-footed enemies.

This article doesn't address the pharmaceutical industry that profits from diagnosing these people with ADHD. No doubt is thrown on whether the Cohodes family is just being taken for a ride by their psychologist or not. The article was mainly a fluff piece that glossed over the facts while focusing primarily on the benefits of stimulants on the ADHD mind. But who knows? Maybe I'm just being cynical. Those stimulants worked pretty well for me until they broke me. Not everybody has my luck.

Now if you'll excuse me. I have some breakdancing to do.

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