In today’s mental health landscape, there’s a global desire to operate at an optimal level all the time. Whether it’s Depression, Bipolar Disorder, or ADHD, we all have the desire to regain control over our ourselves and emotions. Enter Adderall, a Schedule II substance intended for ‘hyper-focusing’ nicknamed “America’s Favourite Amphetamine.”
‘Take Your Pills’ is a new Netflix documentary about Adderall with no scare tactics- just facts. It’s rampant among kids, athletes, ivy league students, hedge funders, Olympians, etc. They’re all looking for a tool to get to that next level- physically or mentally. But it’s highly addictive, and some of the kids argued it gives them split personalities. One part productive and focused and the other.. well.. unfocused. I can relate heavily to having two types of personalities – medicated and unmedicated when I’m off of my mood stabilizers.
ADHD medication sounds very appealing. However, it’s a highly addictive money-maker for doctors as well. When I was 16 I complained about focusing in school and without missing a beat- I had a prescription for Ritalin. Word spread around school that I had these cognitive enhancing stimulants – and they were stolen from me that afternoon. I discontinued my prescription when I saw how violently sought-after these pills were.
Even today, cognitive enhancements are heavily sought after. Many of my friends in ivy league schools or with professional high-performance jobs are avid fans and attribute their success to Adderall. Most of them don’t even have prescriptions either.
So step aside, Caffeine. Or even decompressors like wine & weed (my favorites).
The real problem is the ethics of it all. Is it cheating? Innovation has such a high priority in society these days. But what’s a level playing field for mental health? And what does society value as a level playing field? Should everyone have access to ‘brain hacking’ or biohacking tools (to run a mile faster)? Is it the same advantage as when someone gets an SAT tutor? I was never good at testing, so if the kid next to me in university is good at testing, plus they had an SAT tutor with a side of Adderall, is that a level playing field?!
Simone Biles and Michael Phelps both tested positive for Adderall in the Olympics- after winning first place. It’s a performance-enhancing stimulant, but they had an ADHD therapeutic use exemption for Adderall. That could still be an unfair leg up at the Olympics in many major leagues, and frankly, I’d be peeved if I found out I was working with my natural talents and they were operating at an enhanced level.
In the documentary, Eben Britten, a professional footballer, was suspended four games for his Ritalin drug use after being approved for only Adderall (which he refers to as ‘riding lighting’). So there’s still debate as to the legitimacy of the overall performance enhancing categories.
Take Your Pills left me with the distinct feeling that I need to get a prescription. It felt almost promotional. I’m not convinced that Shire Pharmaceuticals (the manufacturers of Adderall) didn’t collect these testimonials themselves. But it’s definitely worth watching, especially for those who battle ADHD or has a loved one who does.
If you or a loved one you know battles with any Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.
Photo Credit: Tony Webster