The very notion that there is the perfect medication out there that will magically fix my problems with procrastination, time management and relationship issues is perhaps a very ADHD-laden notion in itself. We find it unfathomably difficult to do anything that doesn’t stimulate us. Our insufficient levels of dopamine – the ‘reward’ chemical – mean that we don’t understand the concept of delayed gratification. Everything has to be now, now, now.
Once we’ve been diagnosed, we hear that the prognosis is, after all, not so bad. There are ‘psychostimulants’, we hear, such as Ritalin and Adderall, of which both are very famous for being dished out like candy to hyperactive children as well as being used to pull off all-nighters by college students cramming for their exams. We learn that they are used to normalize the levels of two chemicals that are often associated with concentration, learning and memory – dopamine and norepinephrine. As these medications are powerful, they essentially put you on a therapeutic ‘high’ that allows you overcome the number one enemy that stops us from being productive in the first place – chronic boredom. Our mundane work suddenly seems to have an edge of appeal. The increased levels of dopamine in our brain make us feel better, more alert, and more creative. With that, our productivity rises.
These medications are however not magic pills. They do come with a spectrum of warnings and precautions. Asides from inhibiting appetite and causing insomnia in some, they have also been known to over-stimulate the brain and cause psychotic episodes in both children and adults. Those with a genetic susceptibility (family history) to psychiatric disorders are told to proceed with caution – the overstimulation could bring out something far worse than just a permanent lack of concentration. We then dig a little further and ask ourselves what the potential dangers are of using a drug to chemically increase neurotransmitters in the brain on a daily basis. If dopamine is the chemical that rewards us whenever we do something good, that makes us feel proud of our lives, and motivates us to achieve