2011: 3.5 million kids on stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall etc.)
2015: 6 million kids are on some kind of stimulants
2012: roughly 16 million prescription were written for Adderall
2016: prescription stimulants are a 13 billion usd business.
One third of kids are diagnosed before the age of 6 yrs
Let this info sink in. Just feel it. What's wrong with this picture?
Don't get me wrong I am not against western medicine in general.
I am against unnecessary medication of people and especially kids because of corporate greed.
The war on attention deficit disorder
1980: attention deficit disorder was created and added to the D.S.M.
Shortly after Adderall was introduced to enhance performance and fulfill expectations.
This was an important turning point for many reasons and today we are able to see many long term implications.
1. It Extended the already wide range of legal amphetamine use to a whole new market and a whole new level: kids.
The legal use of amphetamines started a long time ago and still keeps spreading.
Amphetamines were first synthesized in 1929. We didn't have to wait long for the new drug Benzedrine (an inhaler containing amphetamine) that was widely used and promoted among the general adult population. Soon Benzedrine became one of the first synthetic stimulant to be widely used for recreational purposes. During World War Two amphetamine and methamphetamine were used and widely by both sides for their stimulant and performance-enhancing effects. In 1937 the us approved Dexedrine to treat narcolepsy, attention disorders, and obesity.
Although it quickly became apparent that dextroamphetamine and other amphetamines had a high potential for misuse, they were not heavily controlled until 1970, when they were classified as a schedule 2 drug with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. However it still continues to be widely used and available today in many countries under many different names.
In the 60's amphetamines broke into the art scene and were widely used by artists and musicians. Shortly after and thanks to the ever-growing black market demand for amphetamines it became an everyday prescription as a pick-me-up for tired housewives. But no stopping there, the professional sport comes next. Adderall and its popularity among players has been an issue in the NFL during recent years and there were several suspensions due to misuse. On the other hand although the number of exemptions granted by the NFL is confidential, but MLB granted 116 exemptions in the 2012 season, meaning about 9 percent of baseball had the exemption. Interesting.
There are articles on the net about America's first amphetamine epidemic (1929 – 1971)
Do we learn nothing? Our response is to start giving it to children too?
2. Starting labeling kids on a main scale as not normal.
This brings up a whole new level of questions.
As of 2015 11% of American children (age 4 – 17) are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD). That is close to 6 million. This is a huge number. And it is growing fast. Is it possible that our kids getting more incapable to cope with life?
Why do we have this big problem? What does it mean that our children cannot focus and perform? What is the real problem? Where is the real problem?
A 'Limitless' society
The last few decades there was an incredible expansion of technological and intellectual evolution. The internet changed our life forever and the constant connection speeds up our lives in an even more quickening pace.
There is so much information, so many things happening all at once, we live in a world of over-stimulation. We live in a highly competitive environment where the highest goal is productivity and material success. There is a sense of urgency, get through things as fast as possible mentality. We are pushed to go faster and do even more. It is not an option to slow down or relax.
I wonder maybe it is possible that this over-stimulation makes focusing more difficult?
I wonder if maybe the highly increased sugar in mainstream diet has any effect on attention?
I wonder if we can demand our children to calm down, sit down and focus in this crazy, rushing world?
An outdated educational system
Thanks to science, commerce and the industrial revolution a wide public education system was called upon to satisfy the practical needs of a growing, modern industrial society. The curriculum focused on practical content including history, languages, algebra, geometry and navigation.
The current mainstream educational system is based on a more than 200 years model that hasn't changed much in the meantime. With the spreading on the internet we have a new generation that has access to information the way we never had before, and faster that we ever could before.
I google almost everything today. I think it's great to have this tool. I love technology.
But I also think we have to take into account that there is an enormous change taking place regarding how we access, process and translate information. It looks that our school system hasn't caught up with this yet.
I propose an open conversataion about the possibilities to improve and update our educational system to serve better the needs of future generations.
Maybe it is not the fault of the children that they can't learn in a way we expect it.
Maybe we can try to find better tools and create better solutions.
Maybe we should try harder.
3. Medicated is the new normal
The most scary part for me is that our perception is changing about drugs and medication.
It is becoming ok and well accepted to be on this medication long term.
Today many people are taking advantage a loophole to aquire a schedule 2 drug to help healthy people to enhance their performance. Smart drugs are going mainstream.
Doctors financially benefiting and having personal gain from prescribing these drugs like Adderall are not helping the situation.
I talked to a 21 yrs girl going to college and she said that most kids she knows are on some stimulants and other medication to cope with collage life. Lots of them making some bucks out of it by selling it on the underground collage market. It's super easy to get it, highly available on the black market also.
Another factor to add can be aggressive media advertisement like 'better grades are just a pill away', giving the message and teaching people to take a pill as a solution instead of dealing with the real problem and finding their own solution.
Advertiser companies emotionally manipulate people based on the fact that people are more likely to pay for something if it is for their kids even if they wouldnt buy the product for themselves. Very old and ethically questionable move. Remember McDonald's Happy Meal? This is what I am talking about. My sisters have kids. And although they know well how much junk is the food there and they never choose it, they take the kids sometimes for the happy meal.
And it is hard to resist this promise when you pop a pill and experience the wonderful effects, at least at the beginning. It is hard to resist the wonderful false promises.
Benefits of Adderall (energy serum) - Is this the super drug we are waiting for?
- extra fuel, energy
- better problem solving
- keeps you quite calm and docile (mostly)
- easier to keep things in mind and be organized
- helps dealing with physical pain
- cognitive enhancement, uninterrupted focus
- boosting false sense of self confidence
Major clinical trials keep finding no relevant difference from placebo in Adderall studies regarding cognitive enhancement.
However we have more research and information on long term use and side effects that are important to consider.
Long term possible side effects of Adderal use
Interesting fact: According to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations you can't be a pilot if you take or took at some point the most common ADHD medications lide Ritalin or Adderall. I wonder why is this if it is so good for you and your performance.
If the following list doesn't scare you and makes you ask some questions, nothing will. When I read the first side effect I laughed out loud because it said inability to concentrate. So let me get this straight. We are giving a drug to our kids to help them focus and perform better and the long term side effects of this very same drug is an inability to concentrate. This reminds me of a trial drug that one of my client took for cancer, and the among the side effects was secondary cancer. How does this make any common sense?
On a physical level we are talking about a state of long term over-stimulation that can lead to
- fatigue, exhaustion, difficulty to sleep, insomnia
- increase heart rate and blood pressure, heart damage, cardiovascular problems
- stroke, seizure, heart attack, tremors
- breathing difficulties, kidney damage, constipation
- weight loss, headaches, dizziness, dehydration
On a mental emotional level we can experience
- crashing into depression, lack of motivation
- loss of passion, interest in life, loss of creativity
- inability to concentrate
- agitation, irritability, mood swings, loosing control, anger, fury
- feeling on edge, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, being a nervous wreck
- sense of isolation, being detached from your own life, zombie state
- feeling disconnected, detached, unable to feel joy and appreciation
- addiction: feeling that you can't cope with life without the medication
- inability to form emotionally connected, deep relationships
In conclusion there are many supporting evidence that Adderall, Ritalin and other stimulant drugs are proven to be too good to be true and even have very detrimental and serious side effects.
5. What are the alternatives?
There are many natural alternatives to enhance cognitive function such as Ginko Biloba that helps to balance neuro-transmitters in the brain, or Rhodiola Rosea that enhances memory and acts as a mood stabilizer through serotonin and dopamine regulation just to mention a few. These natural plant supplements have no serious side effects or cause addiction. Some research shows that magnesium, zinc and B6 also can greatly improve attention and brain function.
Creating healthy habits and asking for support
Creating new habits and engaging in certain activities such as yoga, thai-chi and meditation has also promising results. Simple things like spending time in nature can also greatly help to feel connected be more centered.
Asking for support and working on resolving the underlying problem can be the most effective and less invasive approach to explore and work towards a healthier solution.
Alternative therapies such as bio feedback, EFT tapping, kinesiology or certain pranayama practices, sound therapy are promising better results and an alternative path without the dangerous side effects of this medication.
There is a lot more that we can do and I believe and trust that we are ready to open our eyes and ask some serious questions.
It is time to use the best of our collective wisdom and find innovative ways to create a healthier and happier future.