Don’t Drink the Kool-ade
Monday, September 26, 2016 30 Comments
Choice vs. Fear-mongered Reaction
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another Reflections post
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!
(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.
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 ADDandSoMuchMore.com).
Waiting to try Meds
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.
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.
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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.”
- Heartbreaking New York Times ADD Article
- Improving the Quality of Your Care
- My Top Ten Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Care
- Medication Fears
- ADD Meds Info for Moms – Part I
- ABOUT Non-Medical Alternatives
- Medications vs. Non-Pharm Alternatives
- Medication Fears
- Neuroflexyn: BUYER BEWARE
- Top Ten Questions to ask your Doctor about ADD meds
- Top Ten Stupid Comments from [supposed] ADD Professionals
- Sis Boom Bah!
Other Related articles
- International [all-Expert] Consensus Statement
- 59 year old’s response to Out of A Darkness
- ADHD Medication and Your Personality
- Ritalin Gone Right: Children, Medications and ADHD (psychcentral.com)
- Psychology Professor Writes Poorly Focused Article about Ritalin in the New York Times (psychologytoday.com)
- Why Ritalin Gone Wrong is Wrong (huffingtonpost.com)
- Orloff/Hallowell conversation about Medication in response to another Time’s article
- Dr. Ned Hallowell’s Rebuttal to Ritalin Gone Wrong
- ADHD: A Modest Proposal (pdresources.wordpress.com)
- Ritalin Beginnings (attentiondeficitwhatever.wordpress.com)
- Motherlode Blog: Blaming parents for the overuse of ADHD drugs isn’t the best way to bring about change. (parenting.blogs.nytimes.com)
- To Medicate or Not to Medicate (rakadd.wordpress.com)
- NY Times Article Blaims Parents (CH.A.D.D. Leadership Blog response)