A note: ADHD means attention deficit hyperactive disorder. This is a childhood diagnosis and is rarely used for adults. Think of a child in a schoolroom who ‘bounces off the walls’ and can’t sit down and focus. This is ADHD. Adults rarely have the hyperactive part of the illness, which is why the diagnosis is ADD. I will use the term ADD to represent both diagnoses.
ADD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin are amphetamines also known as speed. It’s quite amazing that speed is able to calm a person down. The reason is that the brain of a person with ADD responds to the speed very differently than a brain without ADD. There is more technical information on this site as to why this happens.
Stories of abuse such as a college student taking Ritalin to stay up all night to study, keep many people from using the drugs for actual ADD. I know that I was hesitant at first. Not only because they can cause mania in bipolar disorder, but because I was told they’re very addictive. I was actually scared of them!
Here is what I’ve learned:
- ADD meds are rarely addictive to those with the illness as the meds calm a person down instead of getting us high.
- Not everyone has an addictive personality and many can control the drugs very easily. Stimulants are controlled substances and trustworthy health care professionals monitor their use with blood tests.
- ADD often causes more damage in a person’s life as it affects a person’s ability to study and work. This is certainly the case for me!
- Many believe that ADD is over diagnosed and other treatment methods should be used first. Of course this is true! Always try something natural first. For example, my book Get it Done When You’re Depressed helps a person treat ADD symptoms naturally. But if the ADD remains destructive, stimulants are a reasonable choice.
You can find more of my answers to ADD questions on the site under my name.