People who have difficulty focusing on mundane tasks, following through on projects, or keeping still and quiet when it’s socially appropriate to do so may be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are a number of different treatment options for these disorders, and medications very often play a part. Though not all meds prescribed for the treatment of ADHD are stimulant drugs, most of them are. Drugs like Vyvanse, Adderall, Ritalin, and others have been proven effective in helping patients to better manage impulsive behaviors and get through tasks that are usually difficult for them.
However, these drugs are also extremely addictive when taken in a non-therapeutic dose for those who are living with ADHD. They can also be addictive to those who take the drug but are not diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder.
Increased Focus, Decreased Impulsive Behavior
Amphetamines (e.g., Adderall) and methylphenidate (e.g., Concerta, Ritalin) are the stimulants most commonly prescribed for the treatment of ADHD. These meds work to help the patient to manage the impulse to go off task whether they struggle more with inattentiveness or hyperactivity – or both.
However, both types of drugs are abusable. While they can be helpful in people who are genuinely and correctly diagnosed with ADHD, they can create a high in others. Many people abuse these drugs by:
- Taking more than the prescribed dose
- Taking them in any dose without a prescription
- Combining use of the drugs with other substances of abuse
- Crushing extended-release versions of the drug and taking them all at once
The result can be a psychological dependence upon the drugs, a belief that it is impossible to manage one’s schedule and responsibilities without their use, as well as extreme mental health issues including psychosis.
When ADHD is the correct diagnosis, and abuse of and addiction to stimulant medications become issues, how is it possible to manage the disorder without use of the drugs? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are a number of behavioral options that can be helpful, including:
- Creating a regular routine. Getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time, eating at the same times, and doing errands, work, or chores at the same times can help someone with ADHD to better manage his schedule.
- De-clutter and organize. Creating a clear spot for everything in the house can limit items lost. Make putting things away instead of putting them down part of the routine.
- Keep it simple. Limit the number of distractions – like tablets, iPods, televisions, music, video games, etc. – especially during times when something specific needs to be accomplished, like getting ready on time or working on a project.
- Plan in advance. Putting out clothes for the next day, making meals in advance, and other advance planning can make choices less stressful. Additionally, keep the number of choices to a minimum (e.g., “either this or that” as opposed “pick any one of all of these”).
ADHD Isn’t Just for Kids
Though children are most commonly the ones diagnosed with ADHD, medications are prescribed to people of all ages who struggle with the disorder, thus dependence upon these drugs is not an age-specific issue. Additionally, abuse of these drugs and addiction are not uncommon among family members who have access to the prescription of someone in the family diagnosed with ADHD.
No matter who you are or how dependence upon the medications came about, don’t wait to seek help. Treatment can assist you in getting your life back under control. Call now to get started.
Further Reading About Stimulants and ADD/ADHD
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton