Myth #11: Stimulant Medications are Dangerous!

 

stimulant medications dangerous

By Taylor J., guest writer

It’s a pernicious myth, this idea that stimulant medications are dangerous. In fact, it has been repeated so often, it’s largely accepted as fact. Yet, just as with Uncle Joe warning your childhood self, “If you eat that watermelon seed, it’s going to grow a watermelon in your belly,” it’s not actually true. Uncle Joe was just pulling your leg—or explaining away his beer belly.

Let me be clear: I am not speaking to stimulant abuse. I am specifically addressing the idea that stimulant medications, when ADHD is properly diagnosed and the medications prescribed, are to be avoided at all costs. Or, at the very least, until all other options have been exhausted.  (But would a parent spend years trying “alternatives” before getting eyeglasses for a child? Doubtful.)

If you research this “stimulants are dangerous” topic online, you find lots of dire warnings. What you won’t find is solid statistical evidence.

As Gina writes in Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?:

Prowl around on the Internet, and you’ll see thousands of Web sites decrying ADHD as a hoax and accusing the psychiatric community of teaming up with the pharmaceutical industry to drum up business.

Oh, and while you’re visiting these sites, you’re typically encouraged to buy a book or some overpriced, questionable brain remedies. Scare tactics sell, it seems.

stimulant medications dangerous

Perusing Death Statistics

Given a tiny bit of Google searching, you can easily learn that nearly 20,000 people died in 2014 from opioid pain relievers. You can also easily find that attacks by sharks, bears, crocodiles, cows (yes, cows!), dogs, and venomous ants kill almost 200 people annually (“Animals That Are Most Likely to Kill You This Summer”).

If, by comparison, the stimulant medication for treating ADHD is so dangerous, these medications must be killing hundreds or thousands or even millions of people! Right?

Wrong.

According to the FDA, 25 people in the U.S. died from prescribed stimulant medication during 1999-2003 (FDA: 25 Died From ADHD Drugs). That’s on average 5 people per year. Of these 25, 19 were children. Moreover, later it was discovered that many of them had a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

(Gina has written about the higher incidence of ADHD among some very sick children, in a two-part post: The Truth Behind Toddlers Medicated for ADHD. She wrote this in response to yet another highly sensationalized article on ADHD medications from The New York Times.)

stimulant medications dangerous

Putting Statistics in Context

To further put this statistic in context, it would help know how many people were prescribed and took stimulants during that time period. As part of that same report, the FDA reported one death or serious injury per 1 million ADHD drug prescriptions filled.

Since that time, stimulant prescriptions have increased. And, guess

what? People with medically treated ADHD are not dropping like flies. Far from it, if longitudinal studies of ADHD are any guide. That is, these ADHD folks taking prescribe medication are significantly reducing their risk from the premature death that is associated with untreated ADHD, including driving unsafely and many other risky, ADHD-fueled behaviors.

Young People’s Leading Cause of Death: Unintentional Injury

Check out this death-statistics chart from the CDC (click the image to read at the CDC website):

As you can see, the biggest cause of death for children and adults up to age 44 is “Unintentional injury.”

The Risks of Untreated ADHD

We know that children with ADHD suffer injuries at a much greater-than-average rate. Impulsivity means they run into the street and get hit by a car. Failing to assess risk correctly means they fall out of trees, crash from their bicycles and skateboards, and more. The truth is, not giving stimulant medication to some children with ADHD  poses deadly or maiming consequences.

In 2013, 2,163 teens aged 16-19 died in car accidents while driving, according to the CDC. That’s six teenagers every day. Yet, if a driver has ADHD and does not take his or her prescribed medication, the likelihood of that person dying in a car crash doubles, according to a large Swedish study (Drivers with ADHD: Higher Risk for Car Crashes?).

As Gina writes in her first book, driving with untreated ADHD can mimic the effect of driving with “a few drinks” in your system. (For one meta-analysis, see What We Know About ADHD and Driving Risk: A Literature Review, Meta-Analysis and Critique.)

Despite all this, when their child is diagnosed with ADHD and medication is recommended, you can see the fear in some parent’s eyes: “Oh no, these medications are dangerous! They kill people!”

Putting Numbers in Perspective

More than 1,000 children per year died in automobile accidents, in the years 1999-2003. That’s three children every day.

Remember, during this same time span, an average of 5 people died per year from stimulant medication, and most of them were found to have had heart conditions.

Yet, when it’s time to drive little Meghan to school in the morning, no sane parent says, “We can’t take the risk of her being in a car. We either walk six miles or get a hoverboard.” What parent rolls up a child in bubble wrap and duct tapes him to a foolproof safety restraint? That’s called child abuse, and CPS should be called.

“Acetaminophen Kills”

Would these same parents demand that their children not receive pain medication after surgery? After all, pain medication kills 4,000 times more people than stimulants annually. The active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, kills 150 Americans annually.

Killer Cows

Oh, and get this! Four times more people are killed each year by cows than by stimulant medication! How can we allow these beasts to continue roaming around, putting humans at risk? The multi-billion dollar beef industry must think it’s above the law, but the lives of our children are at steak. Um, I mean stake.

There is much more that can be said that won’t fit in a short blog post. The important thing to understand is this : Not every scary story you hear is true.

34 thoughts on “Myth #11: Stimulant Medications are Dangerous!”

  1. Thank you thank you thank you!! I have finally found a home.

    I have had to deal with unbelievable profiling and stigma, the worst of which has been doctors. Extremely judgmental, and extremely quick to throw around the “abuse” line.

    I have found that most psychiatrists are very ancient when it comes to keeping up with adhd studies. They rely on years old research and haven’t kept up with the times. I’ve been on everything – Adderall, Vyvanse, Adenzys, Ritalin, Quillivant, Focalin, Starttera and nothing at all.

    I have realized that it’s a dopamine problem. Straight up. Coaching/learning how to organize certainly helps, but my brain just doesn’t pump dopamine like a normal person’s.

    Being bipolar with adhd is something else. I get depressed. End up in the psych unit. And from my experience, they overtreat the bipolar and completely ignore the adhd. I’ve had a doctor basically tell me “you can get any doctor to write you a prescription for adderall (with an arm gesture to signify him writing on a prescription pad), but you’re not gonna get it from me.” Straight up.

    He basically acknowledged that I have adhd, knows that stimulants work for me, but doesn’t want to risk his license to treat it. When it was discharge day, I told him, if you’re not going to prescribe the adderall, then you’re gonna have to give me Strattera, which, of course, he had no problem prescribing.

    However, it turns out that it’s even more dangerous for me than a stimulant would be. A black box warning for suicide? Given to a patient who has 1 attempt on record (at the time). Yes, that warning is mainly for children and adolescents, but the fact that it may cause agitation, anxiety, risk of switching to mania/hypomania, etc. is something you could have warned me about!!

    And he does a mocking laugh when I mention Vyvanse 70mg, on top of adderall 30mg booster. “Blame the doctor that prescribed that to you.” Why? Blame him for what? (at the time, I had went on a manic spending spree, buying anything and everything, shortly before that psych unit visit). Of course they blame the adderall.

    Turns out, it was the Abilify all along. Class actions lawsuit for compulsive spending/gambling, hypersexuality, shopping, etc etc. I told him that abilify did that to me. And of course he doesn’t address it. Amphetamine = bad, sudden death, heart attack, whatever.

    Abilify, in my life = ruined credit, negative bank account balance, repercussions that I’m still feeling to this day. And the whole time I believed it. Blame the adderall. Or when I went psychotic one time that I checked into the psych ER? That wasn’t the adderall. It was the prozac. It was blocking cyp2D6 from metabolizing it. But it took a long, long time before it built up to the point of psychosis.

    I still remember the nurses in the ER saying “oh, he’s on both” as if I was some sort of druggie. No, I’m not, but thank you for the compliment. I gave up caring about people’s opinions, especially in regards to stimulant medication. They just don’t know, and I’m not wasting time trying to teach them, because they’re going to reach whatever conclusion they’re inclined to reach anyways.

    Turns out that going months before reaching a psychotic level, as opposed to days or weeks, means that I must be a really rapid metabolizer, as normal metabolisms would be blocked after a couple of days. I confirmed with online psychiatrists and pharmacists (and soon the genomind test) that I’m a rapid metabolizer. As I suspected. Anything besides 10mg x 2 is “abuse” levels, or “too much.” No, it’s not. It just isn’t. Everyone is different.

    I don’t think that a lot of psychiatrists have even heard about genetic testing. I’ll get my results, soon, but I already know that it will work wonders. Not the “silver bullet,” but certainly a very useful tool in the arsenal. Education is power. The good psychiatrists embrace this and encourage it. The bad ones, they wave you off, ignore you, tell you that you don’t need all that stuff.

    I’m wondering if it’s because they feel threatened, possibly an ego that needs to get checked. Or they might be assuming that because I’m crazy, that I’m also stupid. No, I know that I’m crazy, but I’m definitely not stupid.

    As they say, it’s hard to find a good psychiatrist. So we have to research and learn as much as we can. Instead of worrying about tolerance leading to addiction, how about we address the tolerance first.

    Educate adhd’ers about magnesium, in a very bio available form. Magnesium threonate works wonders for amphetamine tolerance. It crosses the blood brain barrier. The magnesium supplement in the pharmacy on the bottom shelf of aisle 2? Not even worth looking at. Most likely magnesium oxide, which will just make you have the runs all day. Protein! This is a big one people either miss or don’t give proper credit.

    I have noticed drastic differences from taking my daily dose of adderall with a protein shake. It feels like it activates it in a sense, probably because you’re providing your brain the raw supplies it needs to create dopamine, from the pool of amino acids a protein shake will give. Or, one could try amino acid supplements.

    I’ve found dl-phenylalanine to be the most effective, as well as n-acetyl-tyrosine. B vitamins are important. Probably some quality folate and omega 3 fish oils as well. So instead of stigmatizing the request for a dose increase, how about you address the root problem, to which very few doctors had the answer. https://www.amazon.com/Stimulant-Drugs-ADHD-Clinical-Neuroscience/dp/0195133714/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=adhd+stimulant+drugs&qid=1602915009&s=books&sr=1-1

    This is the book the head psychiatrist on the unit told me not to read. That I don’t need all that stuff. Actually, whether I “need” it or not, it’s pretty damn insightful.

    And finding out the Ritalin can actually help prevent or maintain amphetamine tolerance blew my world away. I would never dare ask. I don’t think most psychiatrists have even heard of it.
    Thank you for providing a home. I’ve been looking for a long time for a safe place like this 🙂

    1. Dear Jonathan,

      I’m glad you found the ADHD Roller Coaster — welcome!

      You make many excellent points, and I’m sorry you had to learn them the hard way.

      The sorry truth is, I would trust no psychiatrist that I don’t know very well with a loved one’s care. The MD needs to prove it to me first that they are current and that they are not cowboys with the RX.

      I’ve been preaching about magnesium for years…..in the early days of my local Adult ADHD group,. They called me the Mag Nag. :-). By now, many people know. 20 years ago? Not so much.

      You might be interested in my series on gene-testing, written with my husband, a molecular biologist with a specialty in genetics.

      https://adhdrollercoaster.org/genetic-testing-for-adhd-medication/

      Yes, many doctors don’t know about those tests. But be aware: Many who do know about them mis-use them. Horribly.

      Our main conclusion was that these tests might be most useful in the case of rapid metabolizers — as a data justification for higher doses.

      And yes, indeed, treating ADHD+ bipolar disorder….good luck with finding competence.

      Here’s one thing I’ve discovered about the field of psychiatry: Of the many specialties, only the ADHD specialists recognize the high rate of co-existing conditions — and to be on the lookout.

      Otherwise, if you see a specialist in ASD, bipolar, depression/anxiety, etc. you are much more likely to be diagnosed with those things rather than ADHD, even if ADHD is primary.

      Yes, many people try amino acids. The jury’s still out on that, though. There’s some evidence that taking them can actually make things worse. Your mileage may vary.

      Anyway, I’m happy to welcome you!

      G

    1. HI Peter,

      Yes, I’ve seen that research….had quite a lengthy conversation on it in FB. 🙂

      It’s from a radiologist, which might be relevant or not.

      Please note: Even you assumed that “affecting brain development” is a negative thing.

      What if it were a positive finding? 🙂

      I can’t find the study now, from Wilens et al, I believe, showing lasting improved brain functioning from MPH.

      g

  2. Has anyone tried ” Mylifeis” medication.. Recently approved for ADD?

    At 14 .. I now know That my ADD WAS ALSO CAUSED BY LACK OF SEROTONIN.. which I substituted massive amounts of sugar as I studied
    ( or I could not think)
    ( not knowing that I had gastroparsis) I stared throwing up. Bulimia.. A vicious cycle of being hungry all the time, yet when I ate, my stomach hurt so much I threw it up. ( of course I was demonized by my parents and the media for being consciously choosing this life!) A few hundred years ago, they would have beat the demons out of us.
    Prozac saved my life in 1984 when it came out and stopped working when they switched to generics..
    We do have to be our own researchers…
    Now that they are not coming brand Adderall.. The rapid heart beats.. Ringing in the ears.. Iching.. They are killing us with their cheap drugs..
    This is where we WILL SEE a spike in deaths because it’s not formulated correctly and then we will have a problem because the stimulants they’re giving us over the counter made by pharmacies are just like Street speed and crack.
    Prozac generic is not good and more and more it interacts with a number of drugs.

    Do all your own research in addition to your doctor’s.. They are overwhelmed with new info and limited time.

    I will say that LAMITAL has been one of the best bipolar meds with Geodon.
    My migraines are mitigated by Topamax ..not completely eliminated, but helpd.
    Many doctors are appalled at the number of medications I’m on but I look at them and I say do you cook with only one spice ? obviously they’re afraid & they don’t the interactions .but I say it does take many small doses of a number of different medications to reach the myriad different aspects of my complex disease. Good luck. Namaste

    1. Hi Tish.

      “Do you cook with only one spice?” HAHA!

      I’m glad that, despite everything, you persevered and found help.

      It really does take determination sometimes, and that’s really cruel when you consider that people struggling with mental illness often lack initiation, motivation, and HOPE.

      As for your opening question…I believe you mean “Mydayis” (though “Mylifeis” would have worked, too!).

      Stay tuned. I am compliling a post on the newer ADHD medications. Mydayis. Evekeo. Aptensio XR. etc.

      best,
      Gina

  3. I know I’m commenting on this half a year after it was posted, but I just wanted to say thank you.

    I came across your blog tonight after googling details on Quillivant XR, which I’m starting tomorrow. I’ve been taking Ritalin IR for about three weeks with some good effects, and now I’m trying a longer-lasting option.

    I was terrified to start medication, especially a stimulant, and I’m still constantly reminding myself that choosing to medicate my ADHD is a GOOD choice for me. I worry so much about side effects or it being hard on my heart or harming my health. Articles like this are so encouraging. There is so much scary info online! Thanks for reminding the rational part of my brain to hang in there 🙂

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I’m so pleased that my blog has been helpful to you.

      How great that you understand that ADHD neurobiology itself can make fears loom larger, even paralyzing—and that you can talk back to those feelings.

      I hope Quillivant is helpful for you. The nice thing is that you can go up just one drop at a time. That gives you more feeling of control, I think.

      Good luck!
      g

  4. Daniel Roueche

    Question on something that wasn’t clearly connected in the article: Other than the Atlantic article which mentioned prominently how easy it is to accidentally overdose on tylenol (making it very relevant to any “dangers of normal use” discussion), the statistical comparisons are between overdoses on the other drugs, and normal usage of ADHD medication – What statistics are available for adhd medication overdoses?

    I certainly don’t get the fear of taking medication for adhd at all (allergic reactions can happen with any medication, as well), but for consistency I think it would be good to know.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Good question. And if this were a newspaper with a paid staff, I’d be able to get that information for you. 🙂

      This blog post wasn’t meant to be the definitive piece on comparative drug safety. 🙂 I think the point is sufficiently made: that even an over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol is not “safe.”

      I remember the marketing when Tylenol first came out; it was supposed to be the safer alternative to aspirin, for children—due to the risk of Reye’s Syndrome with aspirin. The public simply accepted that.

      Yet, there are risks to this common over-the-counter drug other than overdosing. People who drink alcohol and take Tylenol, for example, risk liver damage. But so do people who take more than the recommended amount. The trouble is, the dosing window is very narrow, with less margin for error than with aspirin, for example. So, you better keep track of the time and the dose. And, you better know if that cold remedy you’re taking also has acetaminophen (generic).

      Yet, you don’t see people hand-wringing over Tylenol.

      The main reason why “like with like” comparisons (Tylenol and stimulants) isn’t possible is that stimulant medications are abused.

      tx
      g

    2. Hi Daniel.

      (Oh, hey everyone! This is one of my best friends in the world. Daniel, meet everyone. Everyone, meet Daniel.)

      The statistics on stimulant *abuse* are pretty easy to access via Google. IIRC, overdosing isn’t accidental in this case–for example, if you forget that you took your medication, and double up, you shouldn’t have a major problem, unless you have a pre-existing heart condition, which a competent prescriber should screen for.

      You might be a *zombie* for a day if you accidentally double-up, but you won’t die.

      However, if you take the medication, grind it up, and snort it. it’s going to give you a completely different reaction. THAT is what stimulant abuse statistics will show you.

      (And medications like Concerta, Focalin, Vyvanse, & others, are actually formulated so that you either can’t snort them, or if you do, it will rip your nose to shreds)

      Does that answer your question?

    3. Daniel Roueche

      Well, I know that stuff because I’ve been learning from you two for the past year or two or three.

      It just looked like a hole in the article for the perspective of someone who is still scared of ADHD meds to cry foul. From that perspective, I think it would look like an invalid comparison. Maybe I’m being nitpicky but for some reason that jumped out at me.

    4. Hi Daniel,

      I’m not so sure. We’ve already given the death statistics on stimulants as well as those for acetaminophen.

      As we say at the end, there’s a lot more that can be said on this topic. 🙂

      I doubt that anyone with an inordinate fear of stimulant medications will be swayed by any article of any length. At least not until they try a stimulant medication and the “fear center” of their brain quiets down while the “rational center” perks up. 😉

      g

    5. P.S. Doubling up on a stimulant dosage is not trivial. We definitely need to be respectful of stimulant medications, but that also holds true for all medications, including Tylenol, cold medicines, etc.

      The point of this “myth-buster” is that stimulants are not in themselves “dangerous.” They are legitimate medications for a legitimate condition.

      Gina

  5. Hi David!

    Ah, yes, the old “pills don’t teach skills” mantra.

    Sigh.

    What they leave out is this: the pills *enable us to learn the skills* that we can’t retain, because of our brain! Give us the pills, then teach us the skills, and then watch us soar as we learn more!

    Why yes, I have had too much caffeine today, thank you.

    1. Thank you for writing this. Yesterday was an ah ha moment. I will write more later about why it took me SO LONG to get help.

    2. I remember reading about the “Pills don’t teach skills.” in Ari Tuckman’s book.

      But FIRST THANK YOU AS I HAVE NEVR READ IT PUT SO ELOQUENTLY THAT PILLS ENABLE US TO LEARN THE SKILLS THAT WE CANT RETAIN BCAUSE OF OUR BRAIN. I’M DISCOVERING ON STIMULANTS ONLY AFTER 3 MONTHS.

      I was so uninformed and didn’t know how to advocate for myself in the beginning.

      setback: I told a former friend of mine…a pastoral counselor that I thought I had ADHD and he replied, “That’s not what you have.” wrong answer. He SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME TO GO GET DIAGNOSED. I should have done more research. don’t want to digress but brought this up with my doctor who told me to “go get diagnosed and Ill give you something.”

      so I figured Ill learn about ADHD…..do the non med approach as I have alcoholism. sober many years btw. go to meetings. ect. but with everything I tried…acupuncture….deep breathing…diet…exercise…you name it…..I was still highly innatentive

      Got diagnosed ….scored high on all accounts, and she recommended 2 psychiatrists. she told me I “can’t get stimulants as you are over 50.”

      I went to a psychiatrist on my insurance plan…..supposedly ADHD was one of his “specialities.” I told him about my problem with alcohol. he gave me Strattera.

      Was on that for a year. I went back asking to change to vyvnase as I was in shool and proved it. NO. Maybe in the Fall. then he still wouldn’t give it to me.

      I went to a another psych out of network. life changing. he listened. “YOU ARE NOT DEPRESSED, he said. He seemed surprised given all I have been through.

      getting diagnosed as an adult in recovery and wanting a stimulant I cannot believe the hell that was thrust upon me. I go to a aa meeting for those on medications. I know many on vyvnase. we talk. I am too busy right now getting my life ontrack.. I take my med AS PRESCRIBED. I have a new GP who understands ADHD and supports vyvanse. He now is the prescriber and I don’t have to pay out of pocket to the psych. God is working in my life. I want to achieve NOT FAIL.

      yes LETS REFRAME THE PILLS DONT TEACH SKILLS MANTRA.

      thank you for reading.

    3. Dear David,

      Thank you so much for detailing your experience. I felt by turns very sad and very angry.

      You should not have had to work so hard, to persevere so steadily to receive treatment for a condition that pretty much works against steadily persevering toward a seemingly unattainable goal. It’s wrong. Very wrong.

      I’m so glad you keep trying and finally encountered legitimate expertise.

      People who haven’t had such an experience don’t want to believe how “random” our mental healthcare system is. But I’ve seen it for 20 years. Scary!

      Good for you!

      g

  6. I’m a low dose ADHD stimulant user. But I missed taking it today. I went through trials of anti depressants, Prozac, zoloft, amtriptaline, and probably a few I can’t recall, over about 25 years. None of them seemed to work, mostly because I was frustrated with how ADHD affected my life, not that I was depressed. That was a period of 25 + years where I was struggling without a clue. Also drinking 32- 64 oz of Coca-cola, Dr Pepper, or Mountain Dew, large Chocolate shakes and running or working pretty much all the time. Self medicating, as they say.

    After running into harder and harder to take “brick walls”, I was finally correctly diagnosed, but I did not take any medication. “I can beat this”? I thought.

    Shortly after I was diagnosed I was in the realm of complete success, but, unexpectedly I hit a wall that didn’t wait for me to hit, it came to hit me. I became helpless, hopeless and more frustrated than ever before.that I reached the real point of depression, where nothing mattered.

    I sought help, and got it by a counselor who was very good at Counseling, and was and is very much appreciated, but not a specialist in ADHD. I also sought a Doctors help at a University. I believe I could have obtained any Diagnoses, or medication from this Doctor. I was started on Adderal: think hamster on a spinning wheel, cartwheels just to get rid of excess energy. Then Wellbutrin,: think classically drugged out, foggy, Try it at this dose then up it when you feel like it. (I ? feel like it?). That set the stage for my first and only panic attack in my life.

    I believe I ran into Ginas blog shortly after this.

    I went to my medical doctor, and asked for Ritalin. I was given a generic Ritalin. For the first time in a long time I was getting things done. It was amazing. After awhile they changed it to the metadate version. I noticed that after taking it, it would take awhile to kick in, would be good til about 1 or two, and then I became a talking, more excited or agitated than normal especially between 2:30 – 4 pm. I noticed it, even more than the people around me.
    I went back to the original methylphenidate prescription, problem solved. I’ve been some what stuck recently, so I tried strattera, concerta and one other that I’m not recalling, but they all caused me to feel too tense, or did nothing at all. So I went back to the 20 mg methylphenidate, as the next higher dosage seemed to be too much.
    To me, the stimulants are not the problem, it’s the lack of competent Doctors in ADHD and the lack of needed follow up and monitoring mechanism.

    Too often, I feel like I’m essentially back to my old “self medicating”, though through the years I’ve become more knowledgeable and also more risk adverse, which isn’t a bad thing,.

    I’m afraid of a Government response of going to further regulations as more stipulations could make it harder than it already is.

    For now I’m sticking with what I know helps, but hoping to find someone competent enough to follow me through a sequence to ensure I can safely find where I can finally feel in control of my life, rather than defaulting to others lifes’ at the expense of my own.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for that first-person account.

      If the stimulant causes a person with ADHD to feel “too tense,” that might mean that it is exacerbating brain-based anxiety (as opposed to anxiety from ADHD fallout).

      It’s so important to treat the range of symptoms. Often with a stimulant and some type of antidepressant.

      best,
      g

  7. I am one of the adults diagnosed in their 50’s. Took the second psychiatrist to allow me to try stimulants, but they have made a difference in my work output. I already had in place the mantra thar pills don’t teach skills.

    1. Hi David,

      Good for you. It’s always important to have realistic expectations. By the same token, medication can make the process of developing “skills” so much easier.

      g

    2. Precisely what I am discovering. I’m so estate you gave written voice to that Gina. I love the Canadian ADHD community.

    3. Hi David,

      The Canadian ADHD community is the best! I’m very excited to be a plenary speaker for this fall’s CADDRA conference in Quebec City. That’s an organization of ADHD professionals country wide that deeply cares about effective treatment for ADHD.

      g

    4. Thanks, David! I’m a little nervous…. people with MD and PhD after their names are often given the benefit of the doubt, even if they don’t know their stuff or give a lousy presentation. People like me have to work a lot harder. 😉

      g

    5. Gina,

      You have written a fascinating book that I am just beginning to read. It has Russ Barkley’s stamp of approval in the foreword. Just because someone has an advanced degree doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. I’m in the same situation and I draw upon my values of humility, gratitude and love of learning, staying centered and asking questions. Do not be intimidated.
      In my home city where education from ivy league schools is so revered one man told me he did not believe ADHD existed. He has a master’s in journalism from Harvard. I said nothing. Why waste precious oxygen on ignorance? I could cite many other examples. where logic is thrown away and the educated person’s opinion is given as fact. I don’t always stay silent. One day when I asked a Ph.D man a question he snidely replied, “Why would you ask that?” “Why aren’t you answering it?”, I asked. He did not know the answer and was stunned that I replied rather than be bullied by his response.

      It’s not where you went to school. It’s what you did with your time there.

      There is an excellent UTUBE video by Caroline McHugh called THE ARE OF BEING YOURSELF. It is not long and I got a lot of inspiration from it. I hope you do also.

    6. Hi David,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write that encouraging comment.

      I would have been intimidated, years ago, because I was getting “gaslighted” right and left, especially from the “ADHD is a Gift” grifters. They were dominating at the time.

      But I know how to read and research. More importantly, I know how to see human suffering and I saw a lot of that through my volunteer work around ADHD in Silicon Valley. That galvanized me, as much as hearing story after story of the positive improvements. brought about by medication. After that, nothing could stop me. 😉

      Thanks,
      Gina

    1. We should not forget that “science fact” is simply our best explanation given currently available data, We are fallible and science is a continuous exploratory journey. Just as our understanding and model of the universe has evolved, so has our understanding of the atom and it is in part thanks to those who constantly question, poke prod and test commonly held “truths” that progress occurs.

    2. HI Karl,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m not sure I understand your point. Do you mean that we should remain so questioning of “science fact” that we neglect to provide people who are suffering with the best information we have now? 🙂

      I didn’t think so.

      We can all hope for a day when there are simpler, more individualized medical interventions for people with ADHD who seek them.

      Until that day, I will continue to eliminate the noise and myths that prevent people from getting the best treatment options now.

      Cheers,
      g

  8. While I am currently diagnosed with ADHD and am prescribed stimulants, they shouldn’t be taken lightly in my opinion. Statistics aren’t particularly useful; cautious exploration and understanding ones own body’s responses is. I ended up in the ER because of a bad reaction to Strattera, and had had no problems for the first ten days on it. Now I’m back to Adderall, which helps but also can increase my heart rate uncomfortably at times. I think we ADHD people need more fine tuned help when it comes to medication. I think many of us are so desperate we will endure side effects of meds, but ideally we’d be closely supervised and advised by doctors who knew the risks and could help us avoid bad outcomes. Thanks for the article and thanks for reading my response.

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