Adult ADHD Support
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Medication and bias

Could someone explain to me why some people say that stimulant medications used to treat ADHD are dangerous? The most common side effects are listed as insomnia and weight loss.

Meanwhile, I see ads every single day for medications that have side effects such as, "can cause seizures," or "may lead to death," or "can cause severe internal bleeding."

Just seems strange and I have to wonder if some of these medications should have been approved in the first place.

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I think a lot of the “stimulants are dangerous” talk comes from people who are misinformed or whose only experience of them was in situations where they were abused/used incorrectly, so I take a lot of that talk with a truckload of salt. However, stimulants are a pretty powerful medication, so there is good reason to be careful with them.

Under the right conditions stimulants are very safe, but because of the way they can put stress on the heart and raise blood pressure they have the potential to be very dangerous for people who have any underlying heart issues. In the US at least, heart disease and hypertension are EXTREMELY common, so there is a pretty large population in which the long-term stimulant use required to treat ADHD can be potentially lethal, and that’s worth being cautious about.

Also, if you’re combining stimulants with other drugs (even common ones like caffeine and alcohol) they can have dangerous interactions with those, so you have to be careful to consider how stimulant use can combine with those lifestyle factors.

TLDR: I think a lot of the “stimulants are dangerous” talk is fear mongering, but there are a lot of good reasons to be careful with them, too.

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The image of meth-crazed “tweakers” (and before that entered general culture, other “speed freaks” wired to the limit) seems to account for a large part of the bias.

I counter with two personal observations, noting both are consistent with medical literature:

1. Nobody I know suffers withdrawal craving at doses used clinically for ADHD.

2. Addicts I have known have tended to use the equivalent of my month's supply of medication in a day or two—which implies tolerance (invariably accompanied by craving) given the median lethal dose for naive subjects.

The difference in consumption between the two cases is an order of magnitude or two.

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I remember reading the most college kids who abuse ADHD medications get them from their friends. For those outside of Universities, illegal meth seems to be the way they go. I still remember the local news interview a group of people caught with meth and taking a rehabilitation program, the meth addicts mentioned that getting illegally produced meth was much easier than getting ADHD stimulant medications.

Makes you wonder what all the insane rules are for. Getting a medical professional to write a prescription every month, picking it up in person, hand delivering it to the pharmacy and hoping they aren't out of it again, picking up the prescription by showing ID and confirming your birth date. Seems that they could make the process easier and still not have to worry about people trying to illegally get ADHD medications.

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The bases of these medications have been around for decades. I had an older Dad and he actually recommended to me once as a teenager to get some amphetamines if I wanted to lose weight. It sounds bad but that was his era: it was normal. I wouldn't tell a 19 yr old that but, hey, I'm not as interesting as he was. LOL :)

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No doubt. My step mom got through her CPA exam with bennies and cocaine. Both of those drugs have major side effects.

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I'm hesitant about ADHD meds, so I haven't started any, but I'm terrified about antidepressants. Mood altering medicines and I do.not.mix!

The more I read people's reviews about how stimulants have changed their lives, the less on the fence I become. I don't want to wind up with a heart problem because my luck is so awful that I would probably be the one person out of five in the study who gets one. smh.

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Thankfully, there are many medications used to treat ADHD. Adderall made me jittery and I felt as though my heart was going to explode. On Ritalin I have a bit of anxiety but I am so unbelievably efficient on the medication - I don't care.

As for antidepressants, my current therapist put me on Bupropn HCL X and while it does help with depression the side effects suck. I am always achy on the medicine, no other way of describing it. One listed side effect is muscle soreness but as an active person I can say this doesn't really describe it. Not only are my muscles sore but my tendons and joints feel creaky. I feel like a senior citizen :(

Also, I had a couple of things happen that were really fantastic recently and I was happy but not as happy as I usually am. I have to wonder if it is the drug, if it lessens depression it probably dampens other emotions as well.

For all the talk of Ritalin making you into a zombie I can say, I have never felt more zombie like than I am on Bupropn.

Found this video on medications for ADHD:

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I think like all medications they have to list every possible side effect. Remember watching commercials on tv for prescription drugs and how they list a awful amount of terrible sounding side effects? I would think why in the world would someone want this drug? I think most of those side effects a lot of people may never get and if they do have side effects, it may just be a couple and mild so its worth taking.

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True. My main point was that the bias against stimulant medications used to treat ADHD seem blown out of proportion. I can't tell you how many medical professionals I have come across who completely freak out when you mention Ritalin or Adderall.

From my research, both are quite safe when taken as prescribed.

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Awe yes I agree until I met my now psychiatrist it was hard talking to anyone about it

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