Don’t Drink the Kool-ade

Choice vs. Fear-mongered Reaction

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another Reflections post


“Ritalin, like all medications,
can be useful when used properly
and dangerous when used improperly. 

Why is it so difficult for so many people
to hold to that middle ground?”

~ Dr. Edward Hallowell

As I wrote in a prior article, in response to one of the far too many opinion pieces made popular by the soundbite press:

  • You don’t have to believe in medication.
  • You don’t have to take it.
  • You don’t have to give it to your kids.

You don’t EVEN have to do unbiased research before you ring in with an opinion on medication or anything else having to do with ADD/ADHD/EFD.

HOWEVER, when you’re writing a piece to be published in a widely-read paper of some stature, or a book that presents itself as containing credible expertise, it is simply unprofessional — of the writer, the editors, and the publications themselves — to publish personal OPINION in a manner that will lead many to conclude that the pieces quote the sum total of scientific fact

It is also incredibly harmful.

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They know not what they do?

It breaks my heart that many parents will take as gospel what is printed in poorly  researched articles — or those self aggrandizing books that present only some of the story, citing incomplete research to back up what they most surely want to be invited to say again on national talk shows!

More than a few well-meaning parents have no idea that they might well be dooming their children to a life of needless struggle and under-performance similar to my own, simply because they will be afraid to pursue diagnosis, fearful of medication.

Better Late than Never – but even better, much earlier

Take it from me – even though everyone is different, medication can be a godsend for many of us. With an IQ in the gifted range, my own life simply did not BEGIN to make any kind of sense until I was properly medicated — at 39.

In my case, personal side effects preclude methylphenidate [generic Ritalin], but I have taken dexedrine-based stimulant medication for over 20 years now.

You will never get me to believe that there is no long term efficacy!

When I can’t obtain my medication, like the patients in the movie Awakenings, my brain slides back to that state where I cannot function well enough to have any sort of a life worth living.  With it, I can do a great deal, actually.

Despite the fact that I promise you that I am THE ADD Poster Girl, I went on to become a [life] coaching pioneer and a founder of the ADD Coaching field, in addition to founding the ADD Coach Training field.

  • I struggle still, remnants of conclusions formed from numerous mistakes made during the almost four decades prior to diagnosis and medication.
  • My life will never be what it might have been, had I been able to take advantage of the support of diagnosis and medication since childhood.

I am now an ADD/EFD expert – globally well-informed on anything and everything impacting Executive Functioning Dysregulations right down to neurochemistry. Believe me, I KNOW what to do to work with and around ADD/EFD struggles. I teach it, I coach it, and I have trained many others to coach it.

Without my medication, however, I can’t DO what I know,
any more than I can focus on the words I am typing without my glasses.
But still, I’d have to know how to read!

Glasses Gone Wrong

(I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tried to write that article!)

I’ll bet they could do a study where they gave 6,000 illiterates glasses, and the conclusion would be that VERY few would be able to read without further interventions and supports.

If they weren’t diligent about screening and appropriate prescription strength, I’ll bet many of the participants would suddenly develop headaches, broken bones from accidents due to visual misperceptions, and who knows what else!

Conclusion: Glasses have dangerous side-effects!

Next, they could go after the optometrists and all of the businesses that create frames and lenses – those capitalist pigs who are pushing glasses on unsuspecting parents.

Because, as they’ll easily be able to “prove” in support of their assertions, a significant percentage of the illiterate participants will be able to learn to read just as effectively without glasses.

Ridiculous, yes?

The “logic” above is JUST as ill-considered as the majority of anti-medication articles and books out there. And sad. And harmful.

PLEASE — Don’t drink the Kool-ade.

Make my LIFE!

I flash back to the first ten years of my ADD/EFD coaching career, when I still had the energy and patience to gently and carefully build community as I attempted to educate – twenty-five years ago.

That was back when ADD/EFD books targeting the general public were rare, little was known about what to do about Executive Functioning Dysregulations, and the majority of people didn’t even believe they were legitimate disorders – including many doctors!

After twenty-five years of non-stop advocacy, I’m exhausted. And discouraged. Even though, thank God, a great many more people believe in the validity of the diagnoses, I simply can’t believe that so many seem to know so little about them, despite the plethora of resources available today (including well over 500 articles written from a backlog of 25 years of reading, research and personal experience that I’ve compiled here on

Waiting to try Meds

I am most dismayed, however, by the fearful attitude toward diagnosis and medication that runs through so many of the articles, books and comments around the web, however subtly.

They speak of “trying to avoid medication” or “avoiding meds so far,” as if medication were a last-ditch response, to be tried only when everything else failed.

While it is true that a great many diagnosed ADD/EFDers seem to manage better once they’ve aged and each pre-frontal cortex has matured, in my experience, MOST ADDults, diagnosed or undiagnosed, and no matter how well they seem to be doing, continue to under-function for many, many years past puberty.

That, in turn, hamstrings their levels of achievement in ways that “advantage-matched” non-ADD/EFDers do not experience.

Related Post: Underfunctioning: Einstein at the Patent Office

It’s Not a Level Playing Field

  • “Normal” Kids: In addition to their ability to acquire grade-level appropriate skills as they step through their educational years, the majority of so-called “neurotypicals” have the additional advantage of getting to swim with the current for the remainder of their lives.
  • EFD Kids: Not only do a great many continue to fall behind in their struggle to acquire grade-level appropriate skills, which limits their educational success and opportunities, ADD/EFDers are forced by a “neurotypical-dominant” society to swim against the current for much of the rest of our lives.

Yet the “finish times” of both groups are measured against one another in the Olympics of life as if both groups were swimming the same race.

At any point in life, as long as it is not contraindicated, properly titrated medication can level the Executive Functioning playing field somewhat.

But I want to remind everyone that the Head Start Program was instituted because of the strong belief in the clear relationship between a strong start and life success.  

ONLY those ADD/EFDers who are identified early in childhood, with assistive technology in place from diagnosis, GET that strong start.

[CLICK to hear from a 22 yr. old ADD blogger dx’d at 7:
“Parents, getting your child diagnosed may change their life for the better! ADHD & ADD”]

MOST ADD/EFDers struggle for years after diagnosis,
EVEN those who are lucky enough to be diagnosed in childhood.

The apparent lessening of symptoms as adulthood approaches (coupled with the scare-tactics and ridicule of nay-sayers like the derisive Sir Ken Robinson) means that MANY ADD/EFDers do not even consider getting formally diagnosed or medicated until life challenges reach a point when they are no longer willing or ABLE to continue to soldier on.

Even once these floundering individuals reach the point of action toward diagnosis, far too many doctors are still reluctant to diagnose and/or medicate ADDults who clearly need both, which delays successful treatment further.

Making an informed CHOICE

I know first-hand how difficult it is to make the choice to take stimulant medication.  I can only imagine how much MORE difficult it must be to make that choice for a beloved child.

However, I strongly urge everyone reading to MAKE a choice, which is not the same as jumping to one side or the other of the pharmaceutical fence because of something you’ve heard or read that may be little more than one person’s opinion based on atypical experience.

In my extensive experience, the nay-sayers are frequently reacting out of confirmation bias, or after a quick read of an article or several found in the popular press (RARELY complete or accurate).

As I wrote in an earlier article, Medications vs. Non-Pharm Alternatives:
People are different and brains are different
there is a wide range of responses to a great many substances.
Each of us has the right and responsibility
to decide for ourselves we will or will not ingest.

So far, and for 20 years now, prescription psychostims have supplied the best relief for the greatest number of my own challenges, even as I continue to investigate non-pharmaceutical alternatives for a variety of reasons.

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/EFD 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.

I believe it is a big mistake to demonize or champion either pharmaceutical approaches OR non-pharmaceutical alternatives simply because something did or did not work for someone else. CHOOSE after you have spent some time exploring thoroughly from a great many sources, really understanding how they work and what they are designed to do.

© 2013-2016, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”

Additional Comment:

From a letter to the Time’s editor by Tony Rostain & Lenard A. Adler, Mount Royal, N.J., Feb. 1, 2012. Both psychiatrists, the writers are board members of the American Professional Society of A.D.H.D. and Related Disorders.  The letter was also signed by five other board members. Published: February 7, 2012

Documenting long-term efficacy is problematic in many areas of medicine, not just A.D.H.D. Yet numerous studies demonstrate that stimulant and nonstimulant medications are effective in adults with the disorder, which suggests that medications often don’t lose effectiveness over time.”

“Dr. Sroufe [in a much maligned NY Times Article, Ritalin Gone Wrong] gives short shrift to family/twin studies showing that A.D.H.D. is one of the most highly heritable psychiatric disorders and dismisses important findings from imaging studies documenting structural and functional changes in brain function in A.D.H.D. patients.”

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

30 Responses to Don’t Drink the Kool-ade

  1. Pingback: The Wisdom of Compensating for Deficits | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. I find it astonishing that there is so much child anti vaccination admonitions out there and that so many parents have bought into it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks SO much for this important comment. Horrifying, isn’t it – because it is not simply the lives of unvaccinated children that are at risk. They are threatening the lives and health of entire populations.

      As I imagine you already know, diseases that have been eradicated can return and gain a foothold in populations where there is not a certain level of immunity. MANY people have died horrible deaths from those diseases in the recent past, and the lives of others have been cruelly impaired – in our parents’ lifetimes if not our own. That’s what we are vaccinating against.

      It must certainly be a tough choice if you [mistakenly] believe that you must risk dooming your child to autism – but there are so MANY sources that have shown that, as they say, “correlation does not prove causation.” Good to ask the question – I would have myself – but It’s NOT TRUE that the rise in autism is caused by vaccinations, for example.

      We don’t have to believe “big pharma” – but, for the sake of children everywhere, I strongly believe we DO need to search for and read the recent research with an open mind.

      In any case, I agree with you that it is astonishing that there’s enough irresponsible reportage out there to scare parents into making a choice they could regret forever — encouraged by the anti-vax “rich and famous.”

      Regular readers know I despise scare tactics, but there ARE worse things than death — nobody wants to contribute to the return of today’s versions of iron lungs. Nobody wants to live with the guilt if their own child could no longer breathe without the aid of a machine, knowing they could have prevented it.

      Here’s an article by a mom whose daughter developed HFA despite being unvaccinated: How My Daughter Taught Me that Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism. She includes links to recent research findings. She tells how she slowly changed her mind and how she was reviled in the internet Mom’s groups who had made up their minds based on a particular anti-vaxer with a super publicist (both making a great deal of money, mgh points out.)

      The author of the post above quotes an important point made by her doctor:
      “I can tell you right now that if your baby is going to be autistic, she’s going to be autistic whether you vaccinate her or not. The only difference between now and fifty years ago is that kids with autism are diagnosed correctly now. They used to be called ‘mentally retarded’ if they couldn’t speak, but that diagnosis is rare now. If you looked, you’d know that rates of nonverbal autism are going up at the same speed that rates of “Mental Retardation” are going down. And autistic kids who can speak weren’t considered to have a disease until recently.”

      There’s a lot of poison Kool-Aid out there. We need to avoid drinking ANY of it.



      • The Miami Dade County Public School System does an excellent jobs at confirming proof of vaccinations for students. Beside mere general health for kids the system is at least 25% foreign born and they come in with hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis.

        Liked by 1 person

        • In addition to general health, I read an interesting study about the percentage rise in IQ demonstrated by test scores following vaccination. There is no proven answer for the correlation, which may be a result of disease and illness avoidance as much as the vaccinations themselves. The study sample was small, but fairly conclusive.


          • “about the percentage rise in IQ demonstrated by test scores following vaccination. There is no proven answer for…”

            If the mind is a vanguard directing the body systems to focus on this or that negative possibility other productive systems that need development are deprived of attention. Perhaps the v’s enable the brain to shift focus and apply more energy to brain development esp in early childhood. The mind must operate with degrees of rationing energy and compartmentalizing simultaneously.

            I think our genes are programmed to respond to some maladies with a progression of possibilities that appear at certain ages in a life span. It is certainly not a precise theory or precise process if true but in past centuries fewer people died of cancer because they did not live long enough to get cancer. So as adaptation takes place and genes modify themselves in general they may reprogram themselves as particular maladies become numerically more present in our species at benchmarks in the aging process.

            Of course my thinking here is based more on philosophy of ancient Greek reasoning protocols not empiricism. I am not a clinical scientist. But it seems that v’s may liberate the mind to go other places in a body’s development, hence the v’s and possible IQ relationship presented by the study.


            • Carl and others: I added some white space to make this interesting comment easier to read for ADD/EFDers – words unchanged.
              I am not a scientist either, but my thinking tends to agree with yours – and those of the neuro-philosophers. Whatever the mechanism of action, one thing is clear: vaccines do NOT cause autism, and it is foolhardy to deny their disease protection to our children.


  3. Pingback: When Depression Comes Knocking | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  4. This is an important read for new parents to understand because often new parents will desperately Google for information and sadly many people believe almost anything they find online! Ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. annj49 says:

    Thank you for a balanced article on drug use in this condition. Most interesting.

    I’m one of those who would rather employ natural methods but it was very good to hear your point of view from your own experience presented in such a way as it was.



    • Thanks for this comment. So many poor souls struggle needlessly because they are afraid of pharmaceuticals. I, too, prefer natural methods when possible, but I’d like to lift the shame and fear for those whom it is not.

      Some diabetics can manage with diet alone, some need insulin, but nobody is posting articles scaring people away from medication — that’s my point, so thanks for getting it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Debbie says:

    Another extremely thought provoking and well written piece from you, Madelyn.
    Thank you.


    • Thanks, Debbie, for reading and ringing in, and I’m hoping I didn’t sound like I was hawking medication for all. Of course meds aren’t for everyone, but I truly hate scare tactics based on insufficient research that make it seem like meds aren’t for anyone!

      btw- I was in the middle of editing this piece when we had our “apple” exchange, and it was all I could do to keep from giving you an unasked for preview lol.

      Still, I’m not big on ingesting *anything* you don’t need, but meds are like glasses: if you need them, you NEED them, if you don’t, they won’t help and they might just give you a huge headache.



      • Debbie says:

        HI Maddie ( us Aussies can’t help ourselves to diminutive!) – the apple boy was really a one off. i had never heard of it before and never again. Its like depression – I’ve seen some people be able to have completely normal lives and function by constant, regular and lifelong medicine intake ( dont like the word medication, its too controlling) – yet others have their lives totally worsened and spiral out of control,making the condition worse, by medication.

        If you find something that works, an apple-free diet or a pharmecuetical, it works, and as you have testifed, you can have a life worth living.

        For me, I’m a big believer in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It addresses the underlying energy patterns and fixes them. I’ve recently been visiting the Neurology Dept of a TCM hospital in China. Its amazing to see so many people in all kinds of conditions come in.

        but life is complicated. What works, works. I agree there are all kinds of predjudices around also. Your articles are always so thought provoking. xx D.


        • Thanks so much for the compliment, Debbie. I have been looking into TCM more and more myself of late. If I can ever function as well without meds (my own naming preference), I’m all in – and not just for health reasons.

          Meds are EXPENSIVE, monthly as well as over a lifetime, and DEA required regular visits to the doctor even when nothing has changed and all is going well, add to that expense, not to mention managing the scheduling necessary to call 24 hours in advance, then drive to pick up monthly prescriptions in person before you run out.

          Keeping meds on board has been a life-long hassle. The laws around prescriptions for controlled substances are hatefully complex, especially for someone who lives alone and doesn’t function well at all without meds. Even pharmacies can’t always keep them in stock – and if your doc is out of the office for any reason, you can’t even get the required monthly prescription unless you know it is coming and plan carefully (docs are not supposed to give you more than one script a month — and they can’t be faxed to the pharmacy, btw).

          For those reasons (and others), I have given most of the so-called nutraceautical approaches a good college try, but none so far have worked very well across the board (and a few no better than nothing at all, despite their marketing claims). I have adjusted my diet to identify and remove potential exacerbating factors. I have also given neurofeedback a go – but I seem to be someone who destabilizes easily and my budget can’t handle the cost of ongoing visits, which is what it would take in my case.

          As you say, what works WORKS and what doesn’t needs to GO – no matter how many other people find it a disaster or amazing.


  7. PorterGirl says:

    Another fabulous article, as ever. I think the important thing is being able to make an informed and intelligent choice about such things. As you say, too many people spout their own personal opinions as medical fact these days, which is certainly less than helpful. To have people like you advocating intelligent thought is a huge help to the ADD/EFD community. Why should medication be seen as a stigma if it helps lives? Giving people the opportunity to live and function at their full potential is key in a civilised society. Thanks again for a brilliant, thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading, as always, Lucy – and for your supportive comment. I really hope that this article will be found and read by people who are struggling, afraid and on the fence because of so much that is negative and ill-informed. I hope it will give them the courage to have a serious conversation with a doctor about whether it might make sense to give meds a try.

      And I pray that they will find a well-informed doctor who is willing to medicate appropriately – and, if necessary, follow up with titration until meds are balanced and functioning is back on board.

      Finding a well-informed doctor is NOT as easy as one might believe, however.

      There are stories all over the web of ADDults who have been turned down (especially on the ADD support site ADDerWorld).

      HERE’s a link to a comment on a prior article on ADDandSoMuchMore (scroll down once to read it) — The Top Ten Stupid Comments from Supposed ADD Professionals — from an ADDer explaining what she had to be willing to go through to get diagnosed and treated.

      Since I’ve moved a lot and had to find new doctors in each new place, I have personally been turned down for medication a few times – unless, in a couple of instances, I was willing to pay for a brand new ADD assessment ($250), despite my long-term history with medication efficacy and the fact that I have been diagnosed since 1987.

      It’s expensive to “doctor shop” to find an experienced ADD/EFD knowledgeable physician – and the DEA thinks the only reason for that is to “score.” THEN we have to find a pharmacist who does not also believe we are drug seeking addicts.

      Right here in Cincinnati, when my regular CVS pharmacy was out of my medication and I had to go to another location, I handed my business card to another CVS pharmacist who still insisted on calling other pharmacies to see if I had been filling prescriptions elsewhere. (As if any addict would go to the trouble of printing business cards and putting up a blog so that they could pretend enough credibility to get high!)

      After 25 years of ADDvocacy – to say that I am disheartened is probably the understatement of this decade. And I’m angry about that – very, very angry.


  8. If I understood this post correctly it’s about taking to much medicine. I do think now days doctors are to quick to prescribe medicine and get people on to much medicine which isn’t good. They do this mostly with older people.


    • We do see over-prescribing a great deal in the older population – where the meds mix frequently exacerbates the conditions they are supposed to be treating.

      However, more than a few studies indicate that ADD/EFD medication is not only NOT overprescribed, that the exact opposite is actually the case. The medication fear-mongers rarely mention those studies in their “don’t take those dangerous meds” opinion pieces.

      While I hope I made it clear that there IS no solution that is appropriate in every case, there are far too few posts offering a positive point of view about meds efficacy. For those wavering on the do I/don’t I fence and struggling, I wanted to offer my personal experience – and the opinion formed after 25 years of reading and research (including comments from, literally, hundreds of those struggling with ADD/EFD).

      The greater point is that I want people to make an informed CHOICE – and not to automatically fall victim to uninformed scare tactics.

      Thanks for ringing in and giving me a chance to clarify.


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