I have talked to a lot of people lately who want results through medication. I don’t have anything against medication and I think medication can help certain individuals, but the more I talk to people who have taken medication the more I learn that mediation is all some seem to have, that all of their hopes are reliant on medication. Someone told me recently that they would be more excited about my book and blog if it talked more about medication and if I had used medication to successfully overcome my ADHD condition.
Sorry, don’t want to disappoint anyone, medication does help some people and I am happy it does such, but for a great many of people medication has not helped them and they still seek the magic pill which will help them break through the foggy barrier of ADHD. You know, when you read about someone overcoming ADHD life struggles through the use of medication many read into that medication is some sort of cure and it is the answer above all others. I don’t buy into that. I wish there was some magic pill, I really do, but the truth is that there is no cure. The ultimate cure for ADHD is not what we want, it is the process of learning to cope and overcome our innate ways, to find ways to use those ways to benefit ourselves and others. The problem therein is that most of us with ADHD have problems finding motivation and inspiration to overcome and cope with our struggles. We need that light at the end of the tunnel. Medication provides such a light in a way, but it’s not at the end of the tunnel.
Someone wrote me recently thanking me for my story and told me of his story of using medication through much of his childhood and how it was a miracle and helped him so much, but when the medication wore off and he could not find a replacement which helped, he was lost and suddenly found himself in a world of struggles which medication had always helped him with, but he had never learned any real life coping skills for his raw unmedicated ADHD. I think that’s a dilemma which should be studied. Some think you can learn habits and coping skills while on medication… I wonder about that. If medication is the influence, the drive which gives a person abilities they lack without the medication then what they learn and succeed at while on the medication is influenced by what? They needed what?
I don’t want to confuse or do too much comparison on what I am about to write and please only take it as a comparison. Have you ever been drunk and found yourself doing things you would never do if not under the influence? We call liquor false courage for a reason. Now, just imagine if getting drunk did not involve getting ‘drunk’ and gave one the benefit of ignoring their fears and beliefs, sort of like Marijuana. What then? My point is simple, we are not completely our true selves while under any sort of substance legal or not legal and when it wears off our fears and our struggles remain… then what? Medication is not a cure, it’s not and what one learns as far as how to cope while using medication is subject to the influence of that medication. I mean if the ADHD struggles are improved thanks to the medication what then is learned as far as coping? The actual reality of ADHD unmedicated is usually far different and subject to different ways of coping and no two people react to medication the exact same. Don’t you think? I am not a doctor and this is simply what I observe, so please do not stop your meds without talking to a doctor, because the medication has benefits and isn’t a bad thing – I am only iterating that medication is not a cure as far as I know and it does have influences which are not there when the medication is absent, otherwise it would be a cure… right? And each individual is different and has some different experiences under the influence of medication…
However, I do believe the ultimate benefit of medication for younger people is through education, academically speaking. This is the area in which I do support medication, because I believe that medication, when it works, helps children remain alert in class and study. This is different than coping with ADHD. Coping with ADHD means to learn to deal with, overcome and use their raw ADHD traits and tendencies – with medication those habits and tendencies are improved and therefore, thankfully the person is not subject to the full reality of ADHD unmedicated and whatever coping skills they learn are for the medicated form of ADHD. If the medication ever wears off later in life then it is highly likely the person will be facing something else entirely than what they are used to and have learned to deal with.
Medication can seem like a cure when it works and it can be described as magic for some. I don’t use it, I never have. In a way I am grateful for that and that doesn’t mean I will never use medication if I find the right one for me, it’s just that I will already know how to deal with the raw power of ADHD if I never find that medication. You might think it wasn’t so bad for me then to become who I am today with such a positive and hopeful attitude as you find in my writing on my blog and in my book. Consider for a moment that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is something I deal with and have been in a depression most of my life thanks to undiagnosed ADD. Please, don’t be fooled by who I am today and compare it with an easier passage of some sort. Ten years of therapy later, I am who I am and am pretty darn proud of who I am and what I have achieved and overcome without the influence of medication.
Do you want to know what helped me the most, besides direct professional therapy? Caring people, mentors, people who recognized who I am as a person and took an interest in helping someone else. In my opinion that is more of a cure than medication is. Medication is a substance which changes the chemical balances in the brain, whereas human caring helps build traits and habits which last a lifetime without any chemical substance and will not dissipate. Remember the first Karate Kid movie? A real, tangible life experience made him whole and lasts a life time. This leads me to another question I am often asked:
What can I do if medication doesn’t work?
If you are a parent please beware of severe punishment. Such punishment does prove to be effective for the short term in order to quiet a child and make them submit, but it will have to be repeated again and again to be effective for longer term; however, this builds resentment in the child and makes them feel as though they are a very bad person. Over time such punishment can lead to depression and more serious self-destructive issues. The punished child might even take out their frustrations and confusion on others, we read about it in the papers all the time and we are all so very shocked when we do and that is a shame of all shames. My book talks about how punishment made me seem as though I was a quiet and well behaved child. Even if I say so myself, my book probably has one of the best descriptions of how a child changes under the pressure of punishment and why people would be shocked about me, if I had not had good mentorships from others and my mother.
Children with ADHD are confused and feel lesser than their peers already – severe punishment just pushes them further into an abyss. Instead, consider trying a reward system for children and change it up regularly to keep their interest. The thing about it is that any child with ADHD or ADD needs constant positive attention and caring, without such constant caring and attention the child will become subject to caring of others and a parent has little control over the friends a child chooses and all too often children with ADHD or ADD find themselves in the wrong crowd, simply because it is easier to fit in.
Medication isn’t cheap and neither is therapy, we read and are influenced by the rich and famous who overcome their struggles with the benefit of lots of money to enable them to try just about everything money can buy. Many can’t afford therapy and cannot afford medication or private schools and such. I could not afford therapy for a while either, so I know this situation. However, there are many other lower cost methods of helping a person with ADHD. Mentorships are very effective and were very effective for me. Caring people don’t cost much and if you’re lucky they don’t cost anything at all. I have been very fortunate in my life to meet people who cared about me and helped me along with positive advice and suggestions. It’s amazing what positive feedback and positive influences have in the life of someone with ADHD – it is far more effective and longer lasting than punishment. With this I have learned more about personal coaches for those with ADHD and they are usually affordable for most people. When I consider what mentorships have done for me, I highly recommend finding a coach or personal tutor. Looking back on my life, I now know that positive mentorships saved my life. Seek out support groups in your area, there are caring people who have tremendous experiences with ADHD and lead support groups – I can’t recommend this enough and this goes for partners, spouses and parents of those with ADHD too.
My very best wishes to you,
P.S. Please remember I am not a doctor. I am only sharing my thoughts from my experiences and what I have observed. Only make decisions about medication with a doctor.