Leah’s Life Lessons: Why Adderall isn’t the the miracle drug

Leah Power, Staff Writer

At the age of 8, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a form of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that affected my mental ability to stay focused instead of my physical ability to sit still. I went through a trial of different drugs before being prescribed a pill that has become well-known throughout college campuses – a white and orange pill known as Adderall.

“[Adderall] increases the synaptic concentration of dopamine and norepinephrine by blocking the reabsorption of a neurotransmitter,” Dr. Maria Pino, a toxicologist and course director for pharmacology at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York, said.

Adderall helps those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD to focus and control their erratic behavior.

According to the Consumer Report, a few of the side-effects are insomnia, uncontrollable shaking of body parts, nausea, vomiting, suppressed appetite, anger, stunted growth, shortness of breath, manic behavior, headaches and a flat affect, a loss of the patient’s personality or zombie-like behavior. In a study administered by the Consumer Report, 84 percent of children who tried Adderall and drugs similar to it in the study experienced side effects and out of those children 35 percent stopped taking the drug because of the severity of the sideeffects from the medication.

My personal experience with the drug led me to become so focused in school that I began to count tiles and spent my recess time looking for change in the school yard. I found it impossible to talk and socialize with my friends and peers, didn’t experience hunger for days at a time. The medication consumed my life.

I began to see it as a prison cell for my mind. My creativity and, in many ways, my personality dissolved under the tranquilizing effects of my medication.

I decided that it wasn’t worth it. I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be happy.

That experience is what led me to stop taking my medication and find a way to conquer my disability without the help of medicine. I’ve found a few tips through experience and some from mentalhealthdaily.com to help those of us who don’t take medication to cope with the nerve-racking inability to stay focused while doing the simplest of tasks.

First, I found that talking to people helps. While it was incredibly difficult to admit to my professors that I had a learning disability, making them aware of it helped build relationships and bonds that have been a huge part of my success in school. Having other people who understand what my problem is makes things much more manageable.

Meditation can also be a useful tool in combatting ADD. By taking a few moments to center yourself and force yourself to focus on one thing while drowning all of the other thoughts out, I’ve found it easier to cope with my ADD.

Also, according to Mental Health Daily, taking Omega-3 (fish oil) supplements has proven to significantly reduce ADD symptoms when taken every day over the course of a few months.

While ADD may not be something that can be cured yet, there are other ways to deal with it without depending on medication and its unwanted side-effects. It’s my hope that college students suffering from not only ADD but other mental disabilities realize that they don’t have to live with the emptiness and side-effects. There are answers outside of the doctor’s office.