Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two Bits and One Rant about ADD

First, I want to say I was wrong about twitter. Since my last blog, I have see twitter come up in everything from Elle Magazine to Business Weekly. It is a valuable resource. Our students would benefit from being fluent in tweeting, so I feel, as a future teacher, I need to be fluent in tweeting.

Second, I love Delicious. I cannot believe it took so long for me to discover such an amazing resource! I live by my saved tabs. I love organizing my list of web resources. So, this discovery is amazing.

Finally, a word about a reoccurring topic.

I wanted to use this blog to elaborate on a topic that has come up a few times during classes. I think a blog is appropriate because people are probably sick of hearing about it, but I feel I didn’t express what I wanted to say fully. So here goes my rant (based on my own experience, opinions and research presented in 649).
I understand that there is research that people who abuse ADD/ADHD medicine are undiagnosed. This follows from research that the stimulants actually cause a normal brain to be less efficient on the medicine than off of it. So, following that logic, people without ADD or ADHD would gain no benefit from those drugs and, therefore, not take them. I know that research is valid, but there is a social element among some groups that taking a stimulant pill is part of studying. I remember some people taking those pills, staying up all night, and accomplishing very little for the time they spent. That became their pattern to get through college, though, despite the glaring inefficiencies. Adderall and Ritalin flew around like Tylenol during my college experience—the abuse of which became a social norm. So, seeing that social element, I am hesitant to believe all of the abusers of stimulant drugs are undiagnosed ADD/ADHD folks.
The second aspect that concerns me is the ease with which students and doctors manipulated the system to gain access to the medication and time considerations. I vividly remember multiple conversations determining how to “pass” a diagnosis test. Whether the tests have changed since (that was eight years ago) is something I do not know. Regardless, there was a time when the tests were easy enough for many people I knew to actually get diagnosed. If those folks really have ADD is something I do not know. On the other end, some doctors encouraged this behavior. Maybe some of these doctors found their niche as the pill dispenser. Possibly, some of these doctors believed there were many, many undiagnosed ADD people. Either way, I know of a few instances of people who saw psychiatrists willing to write most prescriptions for them. As a bystander, the situation seemed unbelievably out of control and unethical.
These two aspects of my experience with ADD and ADHD lead me to believe it has been over-diagnosed among certain groups of people. If I am wrong, however, that means that a huge portion of the population has ADD or ADHD. If that is the case, what happened? Has it always been undiagnosed or did something happen environmentally or culturally to effect brain development? If there are that many people with ADD and ADHD, it seems we should alter our curriculum to account for their needs. By now, I feel I am beating a dead horse because I do not know if people can find the answers to these question without the past information. This issue seems pertinent, though, because there are so many questions, stereotypes, social stigmas, and misconceptions surrounding it.
I know I probably hit on a few misconceptions in this blog. Feel free to correct me. I am just trying to navigate through a difficult issue.


  1. Meghan
    I think the blog is a very appropriate place to express your opinion...and to be able to extend thoughts and reflections when we do not have enough class time to do so. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I also appreciate your willingness to keep experimenting with Twitter, and I am pleased you are starting to see some value in it for yourself. Fortunately we have all year to evaluate these tools!

  2. Meghan,
    I feel many of the same things as you do about the use of Adderall and Ritalin. I know so many people in college that exam time came and they were looking for someone to buy Adderall from. I think ADD and ADHD are often over diagnosed, and the problem that comes from that(besides people being on medication that they should not be) is that those that do have ADD or ADHD are not always treated the way they should be because people don't know if they really have it(in my experience at least). It is something I really would like to research more!

  3. This controversy about Adderall and ADD/ADHD is really interesting to me since this didn't happen when I was in undergrad (11 years ago+). A similar occurrence that I can relate to was having a close relative be diagnosed with bipolar disorder while I was in undergrad. I didn't want to believe that she wasn't really just in need of a total natural overhaul or something, partly because I didn't want to believe that this mental disorder was happening to her, and partly because I believed that meds were overprescribed. I don't know what the answers are, and there are a lot of interesting debates about it, but eventually I did have to come to the conclusion that some people really do need medications and just because they are diagnosed does not mean we love them any less.