In today’s blog, we are picking up where we left off from a previous blog on ADHD. We will explore the often-used comparison between ADHD medications and eyeglasses or crutches, and whether these analogies are true.
ADHD on the Rise
As we mentioned in our earlier blog, ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorder in childhood and is increasingly affecting adults as well. These diagnoses grew even more during the COVID lockdown times as many of us were put in situations with very little structure and more distractions when our kids tried to do school or we tried to do work from home.
This raises questions about the legitimacy and accuracy of this surge in diagnoses, especially when you consider in 1980, only 3 percent of the population were diagnosed with ADHD while in 2014 over 20% of 12-year-old boys were diagnosed with ADHD, and another more recent study in 2020 showed over 20% of kids and young adults aged 5 to 20 were diagnosed with ADHD, with over 80% treated with some form of a stimulant medication.
Do ADHD Medications Act Like Eyeglasses?
This is where the question for today comes into play. Do ADHD stimulant medications act like eyeglasses and enhance focus similar to how eyeglasses improve vision? Hundreds of studies, published in well-recognized, mainstream academic journals, tell a different story than the one told by the Cleveland Clinic’s website and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Stimulant medications are nothing like eyeglasses.
Why the Comparison Falls Short
1. Cognitive Enhancement
First, stimulant medications can be used by individuals who don’t have ADHD to enhance their cognitive performance. Unlike eyeglasses, which only improve vision for those with vision problems, stimulant medications enhance cognitive performance in both ADHD and non-ADHD individuals.
2. Temporary Need
Second, if you are prescribed eyeglasses, there is never a time that you don’t need to use them. This is not the case with stimulant medications. ADHD medications are rarely needed when schools are closed, or when a project ends or a vacation begins. This simple real-life fact is even acknowledged in the official Ritalin package insert.
3. Regulation and Safety
Third, eyeglasses or walking crutches are not regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the DEA, and are not addictive or psychotropic drugs. Stimulant medications for ADHD are closely monitored and classified as some of the most dangerous drugs in society.
4. Brain Adaptation
Finally, ADHD medications are not much different from other psychoactive drugs that cross the blood-brain barrier. Over time, the body and brain adjust to stimulant medications, leading to a reduction in desired effects and an increase in unwanted side effects.
As you have heard, there is a lot to unpack and learn in the area of ADHD, and I hope that our time today at least causes you to pause and think twice about what we and our families take as medications, whether for ADHD or not.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into the specific issue of ADHD and some of its controversies, I recommend picking up and reading “ADHD is Not an Illness and Ritalin is Not a Cure: A Comprehensive Rebuttal of the (alleged) Scientific Consensus” by Dr. Yaakov Ophir, which is a highly documented source of studies and literature that could be a valuable tool for you as you make a decision about your and your family’s health regarding ADHD.
It will also give you the other perspective that you won’t necessarily get from your doctor. As always, you can also go to centurionlabs.com or subscribe to the Frontline Health podcast to learn more about ADHD and other health-related issues.
Thanks for reading, and remember, go out today and take ownership of your health because no one cares more about your health than you! Until next time, take care, and stay healthy!