There has been a great deal of heated public debate about the use and misuse of medication in the treatment of ADD. This debate has been clouded by intense reactions rooted in strong attitudes, beliefs, and misconceptions. As a result, many people, unnecessarily, fear the use of medication. It is my hope that an objective, comprehensive, and responsible discussion of medication will open some closed minds, dispel fears, calm anxiety, provide new perspectives, and clarify misunderstanding.
If the medications are so important, what stands in the way of people using them?
In my experience, one of the most common reasons people hesitate to use medication in the treatment of ADD is lack of acceptance.
There is no escaping the fact that you have a problem when you take a pill for it and, frankly, nobody wants to have a problem.
In my own circumstance, I saw the signs of ADD in my older son when he was 9 months old, but the words “Attention Deficit Disorder” didn’t touch my lips until he was 9 years old! This was a reflection of my struggle with acceptance . . . he looked perfectly normal on the outside and I didn’t want him to have a problem on the inside. I wrote off his impulsivity and distractibility as immaturity or his being “all boy.” In turn, I constantly nagged him and tightly structured every part of his life. By the time he finally got proper treatment with medication, I had inadvertently contributed to deflating his self-esteem.
When one of the most important people in your life is repeatedly saying, “You could do better if you tried harder” and despite your best efforts, you don’t measure up, you’re left thinking you must be either “lazy” or “stupid.”
So, by allowing things to get to the “last resort” before using medication, we run the risk of contributing to the development of a vicious failure cycle. The resulting low self-esteem and poor motivation make effective treatment much more difficult.
Furthermore, without the medication as an aide, the ADD individual is at high risk for over-relying on his parents, spouse, teachers, boss, and others in his life for reminders and structuring. This promotes an unhealthy co-dependency and enables the ADD individual to avoid taking responsibility for his behavior.