Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

I was diagnosed with ADD when I was young. I read tons of people on here urging others to "get help". But what does that mean? Essentially there is only one thing a therapist can do. That is, prescribe you speed/amphetamines. These will make anyone more focused, its a complete fallacy that they are proper medication for having ADD. When you take these drugs (which are neurotoxic at higher/extended doses, a fact which is actively hidden by drug companies), you are seriously messing with your reward system. This makes them very hard to get off after taking them a while, as it can take months for your brain to go back to normal. Thats why people think they have such terrible ADD. Look! I cant focus without the meds! Well no wonder, they manipulated your brain chemistry at a huge level!

Have you found a successful alternative to handling your condition?

I used to think ADD was made up to medicate difficult kids and that amphetamines are too dangerous to use as medicine. Then I changed careers and stopped working late nights in load chaotic social environments. It was awful. I was never really able to finish projects before, now I could hardly start them.

My father and his brothers had all been diagnosed with ADD, I did a little lit review, opened my mind and saw a doc. I was prescribed 5mg Dextroamphetamine daily and began finishing projects.

Before my diagnosis I meditated regularly, I did yoga and got exercise, I was into all kinds of "self-programming" and "mind-hacks." Only after I began taking a small daily amphetamine prescription did I start finishing projects.

It's been nearly a decade and my dosage has only increased once, to 10 mgs time-release. Every few years my doc screens my heart and liver. I am exposed to many, many chemicals that are neurotoxic at high levels. The solution to my meds is simple - don't take too much and keep them out of reach of children.

And yes, I'm messing with my reward system. That's because my reward system wasn't really working for me in the first place.

Well luckily I am good enough at math/programming that I get huge amounts of leeway at my job. Meaning I miss tons of meetings, am always late, miss emails, and all that stuff. Basically as long as I keep coding like I do, my boss could care less about everything else. If this career didnt exist I would be in huge trouble. But regardless, I took medication for a long time. It worked for a while, but 5 years in I saw it lose effectiveness. Upping the dosage with little restraints led to addiction/abuse. Never taking too much is absolutely crucial, once your neural path ways have been exposed to high doses, it is very difficult to restrain yourself to small ones. Are you aware of behavioral/personality changes with it? Or have you generally stayed the same? My biggest issue was taking a drug every day that altered my personality in noticeable ways. After years on end its easy to forget who you were before, which I think is absolutely terrible.

Its difficult to find information about it online (thanks drug companies), but if you do real research into medical journals, Moderate doses can lead to long term/structural changes in the brain. Abuse can be neurotoxic. Ritalin is considerably safer than adderall/dex. This makes it hard to separate out what was caused by the drug and what is a symptom of ADD, thus causing a bad feedback cycle.

I recently saw a therapist (for unrelated issues) who said it was a common pattern for bright individuals who were bored with regular schooling to be diagnosed as ADD.

Meditation, exercise, proper sleep, and healthy food all have a huge effect. Biggest thing is being interested in what I am working on at work. I drink huge amounts of caffeine and sugar (soda helps the most), which help a ton. I take frequent breaks, go for walks, and work obscure hours. I end up getting about 4 peoples work done myself, mainly because I can leverage my programming ability to find shortcuts in the work that other people cannot.

I'm glad to hear you have a valuable talent that your appreciated for enough to earn deserved slack in your process. I failed math twice in high-school and gave up on it until I returned to school as a medicated adult (15 years later). Now I love math and programming, but without the rote training as a teenager I have to work too hard for it to be a viable career. I solved that by starting a visual analytics consulting/services company - now I get to work very closely to math and coding, but I hire other people to concentrate on the technical details :)

The behavior & personality change (more generally, neuroplasticity) is a very interesting aspect. I have most definitely not stayed the same. Doing anything every day will lead to long-term structural changes in the brain, meditating, making music, playing sports, coding. When we desire those changes we call it expertise. Behavior change was my explicit reason for taking Dexedrine in the first place and I'm happy I have successfully brought about (some) of the desired change. As for unwanted changes, I'm still happily married and my closest friends and family have remained close so I see no evidence of the changes being harmful enough to outweigh the benefits.

Nobody is the same person we were 10 years ago, whether they use drugs or not. On the other hand, I worked in harm reduction and addiction services for 15 years, and I'm not about to deny that issues with addiction and impulse control are very real and dangerous challenges for a subset of amphetamine users. Kudos to you for noticing and addressing the issues your use was leading to, I bet it wasn't easy.

I'll stand with you and say that getting ADD treated with stimulants is very much like lighting a fire. You can generate the energy you need, but you can also get burned. There is no cure all, mileage may very, etc.

The problem is that Drs see medication as an easy win. They prescribe meds and the patient sees results. So that's all they do, prescribe the meds and tell you to take them all the time and you'll be fine.

But in reality the meds should only be used as augmentation in situations when it's hard to stick to a coping framework. But nobody tells you that, because it's complicated and doesn't always work. So they prescribe meds and ask you to depend on them instead

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact