Medications vs. Non-Pharm Alternatives
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 12 Comments
Informing personal CHOICE
© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Non-Pharm Alternatives Series
Expanding a Comment
The genesis for this article is my response to a comment left on an earlier article, my first on a recently new non-pharmaceutical alternative claiming wonderful improvements to the brain’s Executive Functioning: entitled Neuroflexyn: BUYER BEWARE.
By the way, I’m still reserving judgment on the value of Neuroflexyn until I’ve been able to give it a solid one month trial, as promised. Life events interrupted my trial after two weeks, so I plan to begin anew before reporting my experience. Meanwhile, my jury’s still out.
Why expand a response to a comment on an earlier article?
Since my articles tend to be lengthy, I know that many of you seldom read the comments – especially since, at times, some of my replies seem almost as long as the original posts.
I believe that the particular point I was making subtly in one particular response to a comment cannot be stressed too often, so I have decided to expand it into a blog post of its own, quite a bit more overtly.
Demonizing is Dumb
As I continue to affirm, I believe it is a big mistake to demonize pharmaceutical approaches OR non-pharmaceutical alternatives simply because they didn’t work for us personally.
People are different and brains are different – and each of us has the right and responsibility to decide for ourselves what we will or will not ingest.
Even worse, I hate to see articles voicing strong disapproval or pronouncing one or more substances — from either side of the pharmaceutical fence — wrong or morally culpable (i.e., “demonizing“), primarily because the writer hasn’t really investigated them.
In my extensive experience, the nay-sayers are usually reacting out of confirmation bias or after a quick read of an article or several found in the popular press (RARELY complete or accurate anymore).
- As I have always said to my clients and students, you can’t trust the popular press for information about anything as important as your health.
- Once instruments of journalistic integrity in the information business, print publications are now in the entertainment, sales and marketing business, for the most part.
- Desperate to keep their doors open in the face of increasing internet competition, reporters and editors are pressured by publishers and backers to increase readership as they reduce the length of the articles themselves. “The non-reading public” wants it down and dirty. Sensationalism sells.
- Television “news” is even worse. Apparently trying to be all things to all people in the ratings race, each “story” seems little more than a collection of soundbites, strung like beads on a “Now, let’s cut to the next little tidbit” necklace.
- AND THEN there is the internet – where it is sometimes difficult to tell fact from fiction, “internet marketing” from “used car sales,” editorial opinion from fact.
How ARE we to sift through the “information” glut to determine what will be best for our own health and that of our families?
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Trying to figure out what works
For my own challenges, I have found more than a few substances and approaches to be helpful to one degree or another, some to be effectively worthless, and some to have side effects that weren’t worth tolerating for the minimal positive change I received.
Other individuals, even those with a mix of symptoms similar to my own, report that they respond in the same manner, but to a different mix of substances and approaches.
Let me take a moment to remind everyone that ANY substance can result in side effects (effects that are not the reason one is taking the medication – not necessarily “bad effects”) – EVEN those that were not created by a pharmaceutical company.
We still don’t know enough about the brain to know exactly which areas to target to ameliorate which symptoms.
Even if specifically targeted medications and approaches had been developed, tested and available (which is not the case at this point), there remains the issue of the brain’s connectivity to consider.
- Not only are there more than a few isolated areas that can, when working atypically, produce and contribute to similar symptoms, the way in which they work together can be atypical.
- For now, and until there is some sort of “cure” or long term “solution,” each of us must conduct our own “one rat studies” to figure out what works best for us.
So far, prescription psychostims have supplied the best relief for the greatest number of my own challenges.
Individuals who are not, for one reason or another, what doctors refer to as “medication responders” have no choice but to use one or a combination of several of the non-pharmaceutical alternatives.
Some individuals have made a personal CHOICE not to take prescription medication to help them deal with their ADD symptoms – which is a personal choice I believe we each must honor, whether or not we agree personally.
Still others, unfortunately, have allowed themselves to be frightened away from prescription medication, so they haven’t really made a choice at all.
What I want for everyone reading is to investigate with an open mind, then make a choice of what to try first – and to keep trying until you reach Optimal Functioning. “Good enough” functioning really isn’t good ENOUGH!
So why am I still looking?
That’s a fair question. If I’m as happy with my personal pharmaceutical approach as I claim, and I am as convinced of its safety as I seem to be, why do I continue to investigate non-pharmaceutical alternatives?
Because taking Scheduled Medication is a PAIN in the Patootie!
I continue to investigate alternatives, NOT because I am fearful of the enormously effective medication I have safely taken for about twenty years now, but because it is such a hassle for those of us with EFD challenges to jump through the monthly hoops to remain consistently medicated. If I could find a non-medical alternative that worked as well, I would not hesitate to jump at the chance to avoid the hassle.
It is even more of a pain in the A$$ when we must jump through those hoops UNmedicated.
How come? Because the truly lousy fit between ADD/EFD challenges and DEA rules and regulations results in a day or several (during more than a few months every year) when many of us run out of meds before we can get our new prescription filled.
Many of you who are reading have experienced the medication-go-round personally.
I can almost see you nodding your heads already.
Before I describe it in a bit of detail for those of you who are not familiar with the struggles of staying medicated, lets take a quick look at what the DEA (the United States Drug Enforcement Administration) has to say about the classification of the first-line ADD medications: the psychostimulants.
Schedule II Drugs and Medications
Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs**, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.
**For example: heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote
are all Schedule I drugs
Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:
Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, methamphetamine, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin
Why I am still looking
Worth repeating: I continue to investigate alternatives . . .
NOT because I am dissatisfied with the prescription medication I have taken safely for about twenty years now . . .
BUT because it is such a hassle for those of us with EFD challenges to jump through the monthly hoops to remain medicated when our medication is on the controlled substance list as Schedule II medications . . .
AND it’s even more of a pain in the A$$ when we must jump through them UNmedicated.
- We must get a new monthly prescription written by our doctor or psychopharmacologist twelve times a year, pick it up (or hope it makes it through the mail), and take it to the pharmacy in person. BY LAW, Scheduled medication prescriptions can’t be called in or faxed.
- We can’t get it more often than once a month – no back up supply is possible. THAT MEANS we can’t begin to jump through next month’s hoops until this month’s medication is practically exhausted.
- Our pharmacies are NOT wonderful about keeping it in stock – so we either have to wait and hope they’ll get it in quickly, or drive from pharmacy to pharmacy to try to find a drug store that has enough of the type of medication we take on hand to fill our prescription before we run out.
Like most people who take medication for other reasons, those of us who take ADD medication need to take it. Every single day.
The degradation of my personal functioning
when I run out of medication is dramatic!
Anyone who knows me personally will attest to the fact that, medicated, I am practically a genius compared to the dunce I appear to be unmedicated.
As I told you in an article I wrote several years ago, Anger and Advocacy, if you think I might be overreacting, you haven’t been paying close enough attention to recent ADD medication dynamics.
- Are you aware of the problems that many unmedicated ADDers have been facing getting their prescriptions filled because of medication shortages?
- Are you aware that part of the reason for shortages is the way “controlled substances” are controlled – BY LAW? If drug manufacturers underestimate demand (in a population that continues to expand), except in instances of declared emergency, they cannot make-up for shortages by producing more – at least, not until the following year.
20 years ago we called it “October panic.” It’s b-a-a-c-k.
Our lawmakers don’t. It’s not THEIR lives they’re disabling – that suddenly become difficult to impossible to manage effectively, every single time the supplies of OUR medications are inadequate.
Surely, if they’d think about it, there’s a way to protect drug abusers from themselves without disabling those who need the medications to function, not to party!
Don’t forget: the most effective PAIN medications are also controlled substances – so make SURE nobody you love needs them as the year draws to a close. You might not be able to locate a pharmacy that can GET any.
But WAIT – there’s more . . .
- Are you aware that — recently signed into law – medications imported for personal use may now be confiscated and destroyed? Yep. No more running to Canada or Mexico to save money – OR to get medication unavailable here in the US because of shortages.
Some Background – U.S. Policy on Drug Importation and The Letter (and Spirit) of Drug Import Law; check back or sign up for notification to read more on the recent change in the laws here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
What else might work?
I did find neurofeedback helpful in some respects (more so in combination with medication), but not lasting, as often reported in articles attempting to position it as a “better” alternative to medication.
I have received a bit of help for a few of my symptoms on some of what I have nicknamed “the non-pharm cocktails” – meaning some of the more popular brain supplements with a large number of ingredients in one supplement bottle (for example, Focus Factor).
The main problem with those is that, in more than a few of these formulations, many of their ingredients do not even reach the brain, flushed from the body in the usual manner.
In subsequent articles on “non-pharms” I’ll share more detail – and I hope you’ll leave your “one rat studies” in the comments section.
The more we share our experiences with one another, the more likely that more of us will find a way to be able to experience “lives worth living” (congruent with our levels of intelligence, education, personal desires, drive and initiative). We seem to be our best shot!
Right now, sadly, the ADD field seems to be going “backwards” again:
- Books published claiming that ADD doesn’t exist by supposedly “credible” sources (with far too few people stepping up to discount their opinions presented as fact);
- Media scare tactics and DEA policies making it difficult for ADD/EFDers to remain medicated with first-line ADD medications (stims), or even to find a doctor willing to give controlled medication a trial, seeming to care more about protecting the lives of potential abusers (and their own medical licenses) than the lives of many who are struggling needlessly;
- ADD/EFD diagnosis more difficult to obtain as fewer “doctors down the street” understand enough to do a proper differential dx or medicate effectively;
- “ADD” coaches trained to favor ICF-approved neurotypical approaches and ADD organizations jumping on that bandwagon, etc., etc., etc.
Who knows? Maybe if those of us with Executive Functioning struggles would flood the net with comments sharing our struggles and attempts at solution, science might even decide to stop demonizing “anecdotal report” and begin to use our information to begin solve this complex puzzle and get out of their confirmation bias boxes.
But then, of course, more of us would have to take the time to comment. I am so grateful to ALL of you who have taken the time to ring in as part of the solution.
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You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.
For links below in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —
Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed them above or below)
- ADD Meds Info for Moms – Part I
- ABOUT Non-Medical Alternatives
- What ARE Executive Functions? – part two of two
- Neuroflexyn: BUYER BEWARE
- Neuroflexyn: Jury still out
- Confirmation Bias & The Tragedy of Certainty
- Nine Challenges: What Are They?
- TYPES of Attentional Deficits (and Challenges)
- Symptoms of Attentional Struggles – MORE than ADD
- ABOUT the Challenges in Common with Alphabet Disorders
(EFD, ADD, ADHD, TBI, etc.)
- Anger and Advocacy
- ADD doesn’t exist – BALONEY!
- My beef with Sir Ken Robinson – opinion presented as fact – making fun of disability
- Top Ten Stupid Comments from supposed ADD Professionals
- Executive Functioning, Focus and Attentional Bias
- Shifting your Come-From
Other supports for this article
A Few LinkLists by Category
(to Series articles here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com)
- The Optimal Functioning (Challenges) Series of articles
(about the Inventory & articles from each category)
- Back from Boggle™ Series
- Memory Issues Series
Related Articles ’round the net
- Can I Get My Medication Well Done? (ADD-doc Oren Mason)
- ABOUT Neuroflexyn (on highya.com)
- HUPERZINE A (WebMD)
- The 10 Best Brain Supplements for Memory and Cognitive Function
BY THE WAY: Since ADDandSoMuchMore.com is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.