Posted 26 February 2012 - 03:16 PM
I will say, I have strong feelings surrounding how aggressively stimulant medications are pushed on little kids. My brother, when he was about 9, was pretty hyperactive, and his teacher flat-out demanded that he be put on Ritalin. He lost tons of weight and looked like a skeleton. Switched to Adderall and he just kept losing weight. At the same time, my other brother, who was 11 or so at the time, was stealing his pills and taking them for fun (both brothers were later addicted to illegal drug starting at ages 15 and 17, respectively). I think you really have to be careful about pushing medication on small children, and I feel the same about any psych medication - hearing about the high numbers of foster kids who are sedated to the gills by Seroquel or other antipsychotics, just because drug therapy is covered by Medicaid and talk therapy isn't...that type of stuff really makes me mad.
That said, I think that there is a huge amount of misinformation out there about stimulants and the role they play in mental health. For those of us with ADHD that impacts their occupational functioning, stimulants are a godsend. If I were to ever encounter someone with such a hard-line view (that stimulants have no therapeutic purpose), I would really press them on why they think that way. There are tons of people in the world addicted to opiate painkillers, but would we ever say that those drugs have no therapeutic purpose? Benzodiazepines, which save the lives of tons of people with epilepsy or anxiety disorders, are abused sometimes...but they definitely have an important role to play in medicine.The mere fact that one may become addicted to a substance doesn't necessitate that each person will become addicted. I think the mental health community is often singled out for its medications being "bad" or "addictive", just because people have mythical ideas that mental illness isn't "real" or is somehow "not as bad" as physical illness.
It reminds me of when Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology tried to advocate that women with postpartum depression just needed vitamins, not drug therapy. Why did they think that? Because they didn't see it as a physical illness. Opinions that are based on assumptions like the above (MI is not real, MI is not as bad as physical illness, MI is a result of personal weakness, etc.) are just wrong, and those people who hold those beliefs need to be educated about the correct use of ANY medication, whether it's muscle relaxers, painkillers, benzos, stimulants...
Funnily enough, those same people who think that stimulants are terrible drugs that cause a 180 degree swing from normal to meth-head, will usually readily agree that caffeine makes them feel more alert and better able to focus on their work. Do energy drinks make people into meth-heads? Hardly. But that's really what they're doing, is equating normal usage of a stimulant (let's say caffeine) to abuse of a stimulant (meth abuse, illegal drug, snorting adderall, etc.).
Forgive my rambling. I have lithium brain, ADHD, and no stimulants at all right now... so there may well be a more concise and focused way of saying what I've said above. Which is, to point, that equating normal use to abuse is a logical fallacy.
Bipolar II; Recurrent Major Depression, Severe, Non-Psychotic; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Social Phobia; Primary Insomnia; ADHD - Inattentive Type
Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) 250mg q. pm
Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate) 300mg q. pm
lithium carbonate 300mg b.i.d.
Nuvigil 150mg q. am
Xanax (alprazolam) .5mg p.r.n.