Here’s one example of ADHD Snake Oil—the idea that stimulant medication makes you a drone of the “normal” world.
Historically, the term snake oil describes a worthless pseudo-medical remedy promoted as a cure for various illnesses. In 19th century America, snake oil was commonly promoted as a cure-all. (Read: The History of Snake Oil.)
In online archives where adults with ADHD share their thoughts, you will encounter just a few like this:
“Those of us who do take meds take them so we can function in a non-ADHD world.”
They would operate just fine in the world, they insist. That is, if it weren’t for all the “neurotypical” types making them toe the line.
Betsy Davenport, a Portland clinician who specializes in treating ADHD (and has it herself), responded to one such post. She has granted me permission to share it below.
Take Meds to Function in the “Non-ADHD” World?
Actually, I take medication to maximize my functioning in THE REAL world. That includes my home, where we ALL have Quirky Brains. It has nothing to do with:
- Other people
- The conventional expectations of “the world”
- The rigid social climate in which we live
- Or any of that rot
It has everything to do with wanting to use my head effectively, with some basic activities of daily living. That includes things like:
- Heat and hot running water
- Everyone sitting down together for a meal now and then
- The abiding desire to live a life as somebody a little less primitive than the one I was born to be, given a brain that is not endowed with some of the higher functions.
That’s not to mention my wish to engage in more interesting matters like writing the three books I’m trying to write, the unique contributions I am in a position to make to my profession, or the responsibility I have to and for my family members, some young and some ancient.
The Road to a Satisfying Life Is Paved with Truth Serum
I am sick to death of combating the sour-grapes mentality that we’d be just fine if only the rest of the world would accommodate us.
First of all, it’s not going to. More importantly, I don’t care if it does or doesn’t. The fact is, it’s ME and MY hopes and dreams and ambitions and expectations that go unrealized as a result of ADD.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
My personal odyssey is far from over. It’s just begun. And, I am flabbergasted and appalled and SICKENED that it took almost a half-century for me to be at the beginning…that is, to finally have an ADHD diagnosis. It’s the crime of the millennium.
Finally, I submit to you all: The sooner you get on with it and stop kidding yourselves that ADHD is not a real disability which presents real problems which need real solutions, the sooner you’ll be functioning more effectively in work and play.
The road to a satisfying life is paved with truth serum.”
[advertising; not endorsement] [advertising; not endorsement]
Thank you, Betsy!
For an example of life before ADHD medication—and after she had to go a weekend without them: ADHD Drug Holiday—Or Horror?
Originally published December 2, 2008