Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Up on My Soapbox: Regarding Adderall Addiction

the following was a response I posted on both Dr. Oz's website and Dr. Kenny Handleman's website regarding pieces done on Adderall Addiction

I may be selfish but stories like these strike fear into my heart.  I have a large family of ADHDers, my husband and 6 of my 7 children. All of them except one take medication for their ADHD, 2 of which are on Adderall products. Those two are by far have the most severe ADHD in our house and have been the hardest to find the right balance of medication for.  Adderall XR has been a godsend for them, for relief from symptoms, for their success in every aspect of their lives, not just educationally.  My fear for them is that abuse and negative press will put at risk the availability of a needed treatment.

My heart goes out to the families whose children are suffering from any sort of addiction. If anyone understands fighting for your children, for their needs, for understanding, for help I would say the ADHD community of parents does. We engage the court of public opinion, school systems, health care professionals (not all of which understand or accept ADHD) and often well meaning but uneducated family members as we push for help, treatment, acceptance, education, understanding, reform.
I worry that those that don't struggle with this disorder daily don't realize what a tenuous walk on the tightrope it is. The court of public opinion is always anxious to negate ADHD as a made up disorder, as bad parenting. There are always discussions about the risks of medication that seem to circle not around facts or case studies but around fear mongering and shock value. This debate, these sensationalized arguments negate the real struggles of people with real ADHD and the value of real treatment in their lives.They sit on either end of the tightrope and shake the wire we are trying so hard to successfully navigate. I felt like Dr. Oz was shaking my rope today as I watched the clips from his show, seeing clearly his concerns about Adderall addiction but not really seeing him make a distinction between those who need and appropriately use the medication and those that abuse it.  My question to him is this: is he willing to do a special on glaucoma where he addresses those who abuse glaucoma medicine in the same manner and title it A Case Against Glaucoma Medicine? Or insulin or any other medication that can and is abused but has real and necessary applications for those who need it, properly use it, and don't abuse it.  I really feel he did a disservice to those who have ADHD and need treatment by fueling the fire.  What about the child who is now not properly medicated because their parents watched that Dr. Oz piece and fear medication is going to turn their child into an addict? What about when that child turns to self medication and ends up committing suicide because they struggle with depression related to ADHD, because they feel ineffective in their life, because they live in a whirlpool of failure, because despite their efforts they don't finish, can't focus, drop out of school,or end up in prison, because they were not under the care of a doctor, getting the help they need, using medication wisely. While there is no doubt that this is an issue that needs to be addressed the manner in which we address it is critical.

I certainly don't want to be guilty of diminishing the experience of those parents of children suffering from an addiction to a medication they don't need and shouldn't have access too.  At the same time I feel protective of a treatment that I have seen work wonderfully when needed, properly accessed, and monitored by our psychiatrist.  It brings out the mother bear, I want to protect and defend the experience of my family members. It makes me want to sit these young people (and adults) down and do a little parenting myself. I want them to understand the risk they are taking not only with their own life but also with the lives of others, those who need the treatment and don't abuse it but run the risk of losing it to a panicked public and reactive uneducated law makers. 

Having said that - I agree with the solutions that were put forth on this by Dr Kenny Handleman and the couple addressed by Dr oz and Dr. Hallowell. I think they indicate the problem areas rather effectively.  Dr. Handleman certainly deals with the issue in a considerably more effective, less inflammatory way. Truth is there is no way to completely eliminate abuse of any substance.  Those that want to sell it and those that want to abuse it will always find a way, but we can make it more difficult. There is no doubt that this is an issue that needs to be addressed - the answer is not to stop medicating those that need it or to make medication out to be the bad guy (creating fear in those facing the decision whether or not to medicate).  The issue that needs to be addressed is how to stop the flow into the hands of those that don't need it and would abuse it. A clear distinction needs to be made. Sensationalism will never solve any problem and in its wake will certainly create as many problems as it attempts to solve. Let's remove the fire from the discussion, approach it in an open and honest manner and actually make strides towards real solutions.

Lisa Aro
The Queen of the Distracted