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  • So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?

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    Old 02-28-2008, 09:09 PM   #1
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    So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?

    I haven't been on meds that terribly long, but have had a couple of interesting side-effects and such while getting my dosage right. I have found a ton of information on the internet and seem to find a lot of info stating the negative effects of long-term medicating for ADD. There are many sites out there, this one in particular, that have a ton of information and personal experiences with medicating ADD/ADHD.

    Now I know there are different drugs, and different extremes of the disorder, but from what I have gathered, it seems that many of these medication "studies" show permanent and irreversible changes to the fundamental neurochemistry of the brain. What if someone is medicated to get through school and do well in their studies, but then decides they want to be "normal" after high-school and college?

    If ADHD is indeed present, but not as severe or debilitating as in some instances, it looks like in some cases that even relatively short-term medication treatment (4+months) causes irreversible changes in the neurochemistry.

    There is no doubt I have ADHD, but I don't find it crippling or anything like that, only when it comes to learning and studying. I just do not like the idea that when I am done with school there may be changes in my chemistry that will no longer allow me to work at all, or at the same level prior to medication, without permanent medication management.

    Is there any merit to any of this?

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    Old 02-29-2008, 07:13 AM   #2
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    Re: So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?

    You might try to develop strategies to deal with your ADD/ADHD without medication. It's never good to rely on meds, especially longterm, unless it's absolutely necessary. Just my opinion........

    Old 02-29-2008, 08:58 AM   #3
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    Re: So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?

    Long term medication - of any kind - is best avoided.

    As with any illness or disability, the goal is always management without medication. Failing that, a short course of medication while learning new skills is second-best. Unfortunately, some individuals have ADHD so severely that functioning independently in society without medication isn't possible. We can decry societal expectations all we want, but the fact is that the ability to support ourselves is a necessity for most of us.

    That being said, though, to my knowledge there is no proof that ADD medication causes permanent, irreversible damage to the brain's neurochemistry. Yes, there are alot of scare-mongers on the internet who insist that neurotropic medications are the root of all evil. The majority of these people have books they want you to buy.

    So, is long-term medication good or bad? That depends on how desperate you are. No medication is without risk.

    Old 03-03-2008, 09:19 AM   #4
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    Re: So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?

    One thing I think we need to remember when we are thinking about medicine is how helpful it will be. Would we say long term medicine would be bad if it was for heart disease? High blood pressure? Cancer? But it is bad for controlling the chemical imbalances in our brains. *If you want to just read about my views on med use skip the first 2 paragraphs that give background info*

    I come from a family where ADHD has a long history. I have a younger brother who was on ritalin in the 1970s and 80s...he was put on it at the age of 5 after he bit the principal in the leg going into K after being diagnosed as ADHD and I grew hearing how ritalin was the reason he never got "better" and all the negative aspects of ADHD that showed themselves in him were because he was on ritalin and not because my parents tried all the harsh disciplines that every book and therapists told them to do to try and control him. He lied, he stole, he cheated, he started fires, he ran away (after he was taken off ritalin and after my parents got divorced) and who knows which aspect caused what actions. Was it the divorce? Was it being taken off Ritalin after his dosage got up to 125mg because he kept adjusting to the meds so they stopped working and the school couldn't deal and once off he became completely out of control? Who knows but I do know that my mom would restrict him, like the books said, strip his room of toys, take him to therapists after therapists and he still snuck out and stole the car and got into a car accident and many things I could go on and on about and now he's 35 and still bouncing off walls so needless to say when my oldest, who is now 18, was born and my mom commented on how like my brother he was as a baby I was so adament that he was nothing like my brother because I refused to even think I would have an ADHD child and I was very anti meds because of what I witnessed with my brother and heard my father blame on ritalin because of my brother....

    Fast forward to now...My oldest is ADHD but without any negative social traits but when it came to school I was faced with a decision to medicate or not to medicate by the time he was in third grade and yes I put him on ritalin from third to 8th grade when he was old enough to make that decision on his own and he hated the way it made him feel and now as an 18 yr old he sees why the decision was made but knows he doesn't want or need it and most question the Adhd diagnosis because he was homeschooled during HS because the HS admin peeps wanted him back on the drugs and we refused. I have 3 other children that all show signs of ADD, my youngest 2 were also alluded to by the school as either ADD or showing signs of it and meds might be needed, I was having none of it and they are homeschooled as well, the youngest being my other boy and was pulled in K at the comment of being over active and I might want to think of having him tested even though he is the exact opposite of his brother...

    and i'm sure you are all thinking what this has to do with the topic of long term med use....well now i'm getting might think because I won't medicate my kids I'm anti meds...I'm not...I'm lucky enough to be able to homeschool my kids and so was able to pull them out of school and take away the pressure of not having to medicate the younger 2 even though the pressure was there to medicate my 3rd and believe me the threats were coming again like they were with my oldest...I also got the lecture of "if it helps them concentrate and live better who am I to prevent them from having the drugs" and while I agree with that statement I also think that perhaps we needs to wait until the children are a little older and can tell us how the medicine actually makes them feel. When my son was 13 he was able to finally tell me that the ritalin made it so he couldn't think, that it slowed his mind down and he couldn't think and he didn't like the feeling. So I weighted that against the schools contention that he needed to be more attentive and take "boring" notes. I took his side and fought for his rights.

    But I am also ADD and was diagnosed as a child only my mom said no to meds for me. I also suffer from clinical depression and have been on ssri's for 7 years. 5 months ago when talking to my shrink about meds and symptoms she asked me if I had ever been diagnosed as ADD and I told her yes when i was a girl and even though I have finally finished a BA and almost finish a MA in the past 7 years I still struggle with many symptoms of my ADD and she asked if I would be willing to try concerta. While i was anti med for myself in my 20s, I am not anti meds for myself now because of various medical issues I have faced in the last 10 years and research I have done because of them. I really never saw my ADD as holding me back but knew it was an issue that showed it's face from time to time. Well since I started the concerta I have seen a huge weight lifted and have been able to do so much more with less struggle than even before i started it. It has been a godsend for the last 5 months, especially in finishing my Masters and I'm not finishing my masters any quicker than I was before I got on it nor am I getting better grades because I was getting A's before as well, but I'm not having to push as hard to get the work done. The concerta, along with the ssri and topamax (for chronic migraine disease) seem to all be working together to control my migraines and headaches better than before I got on the concerta. To be honest i would never dream of going off the concerta. I am in therapy. I have had an ADD diet, for the most part, because of my kids for years. I actually have created an environment at home that supports a great atmosphere for learning and lifestyle and healthy living for the ADD/ADHD person because of my kids, all of whom have none of the negative characteristics of ADD/ADHD.

    So while I can understand the view of not wanting to be on meds longterm...I was very anti meds, even OTC pain meds for many years...having a chronic disease as well as having to learn a lot about brain disorders and brain chemistry because of my chronic disease has taught me to rethink the way I look at brain disorders, especially when we look at disorders that effect the rest of our bodies...

    I know this view might not be popular but I was just hoping to give a little food for thought before long term med use is outright discounted.

    thank you for listening...


    Last edited by Aenanna; 03-03-2008 at 09:28 AM.

    Old 03-04-2008, 08:07 PM   #5
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    Re: So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?

    shooooot..... i've been taking adderall now for more than a decade, i believe, and i wouldn't dream of going off it! i hear so many people say they don't like to be on their meds because they want to feel "normal," but if you don't feel normal on your meds, then i think you are on the wrong meds!

    i've gone off adderall three times now since i started (for each of my pregnancies), and it sucks! i am currently in my third pregnancy (third time going off adderall) and i just can't imagine how feeling like this could possibly be classified as feeling "normal!" i just get so scattered all the time! i know part of it can be chalked up to being pregnant and all the "joy" that goes along with it, but even after my babies were born, and i was nursing and still off the adderall, yech! i really didn't feel normal again until i was back on my adderall!

    as far as long term effects..... who knows? i know if i didn't stay on adderall, the long term effects would be heart problems, high cholesterol, weight problems.... adderall helps me stay in control of my impulses, including impulse eating.... without it, i'd be a whale!!! oh, and i'd probably be in jail for assault because i really have to fight back the impulse to smack the crap out of some people's kids!!! so you have to weigh the long term effects of being on meds, versus the long term effects of being off the meds! for me, it just seems more beneficial to be on the meds......

    anyway, that's just two cents....

    Old 03-05-2008, 05:03 AM   #6
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    Re: So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?


    <sarcasm>Why is it that you and Index and Rheanna and a very few other notables can't obscure the simple facts with a lot of bamboozing complexity.<\sarcasm>

    Or is it bamboozeling. Or is it BS unabbreviated.


    Old 03-05-2008, 07:37 AM   #7
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    Re: So is long-term medication for ADD good or bad?


    I agree with index, Aenanna, mcr285, and addprogrammer -- there are no studies that indicate specific long-term problems from taking meds as directed under a doctor's supervision. There will always be scare-mongers who mis-represent studies and twist the results to make it sound like a particular med or procedure is the devil's work and absolutely wrong for everyone. The truth is that some people do well on meds and some don't. People are not walking around like zombies because they took their meds for a few years. It's probably more the case that without the meds they now feel like zombies -- that's part of having ADD.

    As mcr285 says, I'd rather feel "normal" and be able to function on a daily basis than worry about some hypothetical dangers of meds down the road.

    Meds are not for everyone -- it may not be worth it for people who can find another way to function without them, and some people never do find a med that has more positive effects than negative side effects for them.

    And as index says, an important part of coping with ADD is learning new skills. For some people this may allow them to discontinue their meds.

    Aenanna has found ways to live with and without meds -- and has made decisions regarding medicating her kids that make a lot of sense -- she has waited until her kids are old enough to give feedback.

    Only you can answer whether it's worth it to you. I an attest that I am very happy with (generic) Ritalin. On days that I take it, I can cope with life, the universe and (most) everything. On days that I skip, I'm a basket case.

    addprogrammer -- sorry, no bamboozling.


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