Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta & Vyvanse

Image for post
Image for post

Take Your Pills is an interesting documentary recently released by Netflix, it caught my attention as it deals with the use of stimulants to work. Since the use of medications of all sorts are becoming connected to today’s working reality, I’m taking the opportunity to bring the topic for debate.

Brief Intro

Adderall and Vyvanse contain both amphetamines in their formula, meanwhile Ritalin and Concerta have methylphenidate, component usually attributed to the treatment of narcolepsy (neural disorder causing excessive sleepiness). Although, all of them can be addictive, I’ll focus on this post in pills containing amphethamine.

Amphetamine Abuse in the Past

During the WWII, Amphetamine was largely consumed by soldiers for the purpose of boasting soldiers’ resiliency in face of extreme adversities during the combats. The substance became popular ever since.

Although amphetamine affected the soldiers’ perception, making them feel “stronger”, studies didn’t point to a real increase in the soldiers’ performance after consuming the drugs. In other words, amphetamine seems to provide only the sense of well-being without improving physical or mental capacity. Interesting fact, the first comic book of Captain America, released in 1941, tell the story of a man chemically modified (super serum) to be a super soldier in the WWII (who knows inspired by the event mentioned above).

As some people may know, amphetamine was also largely consumed as an appetite suppressant during the 50’s, many cases of drug abuse were reported at the time partially because its users regained weight after abandoning the pills, and also due the addictive nature of its components. Similar to many illegal drugs or sugar intake, amphetamine also increase levels of dopamine in the brain turning patients into regular users even when the pill’s diet is no longer necessary. As consequence the prolonged use of amphetamines as an appetite suppressant can lead patients to anorexia.

Taking Pills to Work

Today, Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Concerta are commonly used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity & Disorder) in adults and also in children. Among many other effects these four have the ability to increase the state of feeling alert, euphoria, and the capacity to focus on a rather boring or pragmatic tasks. Amphetamine also affects your sleep, what can be desirable to people doing extra hours (overcommitting). Maybe the pills itself wouldn’t be the biggest problem if it wasn’t combined with sleep deprivation, loss of appetite and many other unhealthy practices people are adopting under the effect of the pills. I think it is pretty easy to understand how everything has started, what is a big question in here is to understand where it will lead us.

As nothing comes for free, side effects include: anxiety, headache, insomnia, nausea, irritability, shaking hands and the list goes on… In the end people see the pills as an exchange of what you are willing to give to get what you want to accomplish. I personally don’t know one single soul who are perfectly comfortable about taking pills to work, but most of them are happy that they have this option to give them a boost. What scares me though is to realize how easy it could escalate into something weird exactly like alcohol did.

Stimulants in general, not just the ones mentioned here, became popular among students and young professionals due the crescent pressure for higher productivity and competition for better jobs. It is specially true among professionals employed in highly demanding areas (either physically or mentally). In my opinion, the biggest side effect of stimulants aren’t physical, in fact they’re psychological - dependency and addiction. Consumers of amphetamines often report feeling dependent on the substance to accomplish their daily duties, it turns out people feel they are unable to focus if they don’t take their pills. Throughout the time, some individuals might even develop Impostor Syndrome, as they strongly attribute their accomplishments to the pills instead of acknowledging their own efforts. Not to tell much is discussed about if amphetamine and some other drugs should be considered a kind of cheating (if I’m not wrong for athletes it is).

Since ADHD has a blurred definition of what constitute an ADHD patient it’s impossible to tell who really need this kind of medication if any need it at all. Nonetheless, amphetamines and some other substances aren’t the only drugs used with the intention to stimulate people on their work. Caffeine is long used for the same purpose, it is more accepted in the society though because it is a drink, so supposedly have a “nutritional’ value attached, however caffeine isn’t healthy either.

The situation becomes more problematic when parents decide to treat their children’s ADHD with an addictive substance. I don’t know how conclusive studies pointing the use of stimulants to increase children’s academic performance on school are, but maybe some children just need to learn how to focus on important yet boring activities. Introducing kids to the pills so early may be just too much for the kid to handle, I used to believe whatever I learned at young age will be present in my life forever. Who knows how children will assimilate the information that they should take something to be able to start the day. I just don’t see how one can stop taking pills in the future if it is what they have been doing their whole life.

To be clear, I believe these pills can eventually help many people in trouble with their studies or work to catch up the others, I just don’t believe totally in today’s medicine and so I’m skeptical about if it is really the best solution.

Indeed, real life situations aren’t easy to answer, I can only offer here the opinion of a non-ADHD person who don’t master the subject nor is versed in medicine issues. I leave any further discussion for those who have experienced ADHD in their lives or are experts into the field.

Have you used Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta or Vyvanse before? what do you think of the use of such substances? do you agree with children using them? what do you have to share about ADHD?

Let us know below!

Written by

Economist, tech enthusiast and Digital Marketing lover.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store