by Leonard Sax
UPDATED JUNE 9, 2012
A teenager complains of difficulty concentrating. The doctor is consulted. The teenager does not meet formal criteria for A.D.H.D., but the doctor says, “Why not try Adderall? Let’s try it and see whether it helps.” A prescription is dispensed. The student reports more energy, improved ability to concentrate, even a happier mood. Everybody’s pleased. What’s not to like?
If your doctor says 'Let’s try it and see whether it helps,' find a new doctor. A.D.H.D. drugs may cause long-term brain damage, reducing motivation.
“Let’s try it and see whether it helps” is a good strategy only if the risks of medication are known to be low. But that’s not true with regard to medications like or Focalin or Metadate or Concerta or any of the other stimulants popular for A.D.H.D. There is now substantial evidence that these medications may damage the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain crucial to motivation and drive. The nucleus accumbens is not involved in cognitive functions like learning and memory. If the nucleus accumbens is damaged, there will be no impairment of cognitive function. But the motivation to achieve will be diminished.
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