View Full Version : Medicated ADD parent - Medicate my child or not?


robbyvegas
04-11-16, 01:33 PM
I'm a middle-aged dad with ADD. I've used medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, Focalin, Strattera, and Vyvanse for the better part of 25 years (since 7th grade). A doctor has now diagnosed my son with ADD. The school and my wife are very vocally pushing to medicate him. I'm hesitant.... :eyebrow:

Now, I should say that he has a truly amazing teacher this year. One who knows our son and has done everything imaginable to help him. And it's working. He's learning and loving education (especially STEM :yes:). He doesn't seem to have ADHD, just ADD. His counselor and teacher feel that he needs medication to help him focus, especially as school becomes more challenging and as teachers aren't able to give him the same level of attention that his current teacher has.

Everyone involved, Mom, Me, Teachers, Counselors, etc. love and care for my son and want what's best for him--it's clear to me that no matter what the opinion, everyone is being selfless, caring, and loving. But I was, and still am very hesitant for reasons that I describe below. We've decided that these last two months of the school year provide an ideal test-bed to evaluate the effect of the medication and any side effects or negative impacts.

His current teacher knows him very well and will be able to see at least the more obvious effects of the medication. So right now, the plan is to try him on an all-day medication through the end of the school year. We'll be in touch with the Dr. and teacher on a regular basis, and we'll watch and communicate with him. At the end of the school year, he'll take a 1 week break from the medication and then he'll use it again for two more weeks, so that my wife and I can see how he reacts to the medication and whether there are more subtle changes that raise concerns for us. Then we'll make decisions about whether to continue with medication the following year.

I've taken a lot of flack over my insistence that at the end of this trial period, if opinions differ about whether to continue medication, the default will be to NOT continue medication. That doesn't mean that I'm not open to discussion and even spirited and continuous debate on the issue. It doesn't mean that we can't change our minds over time either. It simply means that he won't start medication again unless both of us (Mom and I) are in agreement (as opposed to the other way around, where he would be medicated unless we both agreed to take him off of it.). My reasons for insisting on this is default, are admittedly, a bit high minded and maybe even arrogant of me. I think it's possible that as the only one in the decision making group who has actually taken and used ADD medications over an extended period of time, I may see negative effects of the medication that everyone else will overlook or discount. If that's the case, I don't want to be helpless to defend my son.

:confused:I need input from you all, especially those of you who have used ADD medications yourselves for a long period of time and have made decisions about similarly medicating your own children.

The thing is, I know personally what the long term costs and benefits of the medication have been. The immediate and daily benefit of being able to focus is huge, obvious to everyone, and it's a certain result of using the medication. But if I could go back in time, I'm not sure that I'd choose the same path.

Unlike my own father, who never used medication, but does have ADD, I've never developed systems or other coping mechanisms for being productive without the medication. In order to focus at a desk job, I require medication. Dad, on the other hand, is a successful CFO for a large company, and still is not medicated. He has learned to work through his ADD effectively and to be successful in a job where I would need to be medicated in order to function. Medicating my son would remove any motivation to develop these skills. Skills that other kids are, no doubt, developing.

There are also short term side effects of the medication that seem to get overlooked by those who don't have personal experience with the costs. In my experience the negative effects are several and significant, and I understand that many people face the same or similar side effects (I don't hear about anyone who doesn't experience any of these):

- my growth was stunted and I was one of the shortest kids in school until I graduated high school and stopped taking the medication for a year. The height corrected itself, but the damage of being the little guy who got picked on all through school, never went away.

- my appetite and taste was severely diminished. Even today, I often forget to eat breakfast and lunch and have trouble gaining weight as a result. Consequently, I'm really really skinny... something my wife comments about frequently. She likes to remind me that when she agreed to go out on a date with me, her friends told her to make sure that I ate a steak. Other people often comment about it as well.

- I have no emotion when I'm medicated. As a result, people often think that I'm unfeeling, uncaring, disinterested, have no sense of humor, dislike them, or don't even notice when I'm around, even if we're interacting.

- I'm unable to effectively communicate or articulate verbally while medicated. If I'm going to be interacting with people (something I love to do), I can't take the medication unless I'm sure that it will have worn off by the time that I meet.

- I'm not able to be nearly as creative or spontaneous as I can be without the medication. I need to separate creative parts of my job somehow and try to think about them when I'm not medicated and when the creative strategies and ideas flow more easily.

- Because I'm dependent on the medication and because it takes an hour or so to kick in, I can't really get anything done for the first 45 min to an hour until after I've taken the medication. It's wasted time every day.

- I don't personally mind the way that the medication makes me feel when it kicks in, but I know others that really don't like the racing feeling. From time to time it does give me a stomach ache or a headache.

- The daily crash of coming off of the medication is no fun. It can be reduced with anti-anxiety medications, but that has its own side effects.

- Because the medication will keep me awake and somewhat focused even after 48 hours if need be, I often have trouble figuring out sleep patterns and what I should really be getting. And when I try to get a full 8 hours of sleep, each day, I often find my mind racing into the night and I'm unable to sleep without Ambien. Another drug with its own side effects. At some point, even with the medication, my productivity wanes, but I'm unable to detect that until it's far too late.

- The medication doesn't fix a tendency (or maybe it exacerbates it) to hyper-focus. I often find myself spending far too long on different tasks, and I find that almost everything I do takes me longer than it should.

- Despite my success in my career and almost everyone I know telling me that there is nothing wrong with taking the medication, I feel a stigma about it, like I'm somehow less than everyone else who doesn't need the medication, or like I'm just gaming the system. And that often comes from seeing the way that people and colleges and media etc. talk about how ADD medications are abused. You don't hear about people abusing other drugs to enhance their daily performance (for recreational purposes, sure... but not in order to gain a "competitive mental edge").

- There's also the fact that occasionally, I do find myself becoming depressed, at which point I need an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication to cope. I have no evidence tying this to the medication, however.

- And (skip this one if a mild discussion intimacy is offensive to you) the medication affects my sex drive and my ability to get and keep an erection. While medicated, I'm very frequently horny (I'm a guy, so what's new, right? But there's also something to be said for increased heart rate and its link to sex drive, no?). But the medication does sometimes have the effect of making it difficult or impossible to get or keep an erection. The result is that my wife will actually say something like "Hey, do you want to... Oh wait, are you medicated right now?"

Yes---without a doubt, the issue of potentially medicating my own son is raising my own insecurities and personal experiences with ADD and medication. I don't want to burden him with those if they are unfounded.

I understand that my own experiences may not be my son's experience at all. But I've also known enough people who use ADD medications over the years who have similar issues issues that I don't think I'm making a completely blind jump to see these things, not as merely possible side effects, but rather as real implications of the medications.

Without experiencing the medication for 25 years, I think I'd see just the positives. Even in light of the side effects above, I'd probably choose it again. But after using the meds for 25 years, I'm not sure I want to do the same thing to my son.

There is a potential alternative that he falls behind in school, feels like a failure, becomes depressed, and doesn't reach his potential because he can't concentrate and because we're unable to help him in other ways, in which case, maybe the negative impact is worthwhile. But he might also be able to develop strategies for effectively dealing with ADD and use it to his advantage.

So, here are the questions (sorry for the really long lead up)

1. What has been your experience as a parent with ADD who uses medication in deciding to medicate your own children?

2. Are there clinical studies about -
- short term affects and side effects (cognitive, physical, mental, and/or emotional) of these medications (technical is fine...)
- long term impact of the medications
- statistics on frequency of positive/negative ADD diagnoses and prescriptions.
- statistics on second generation medication. Do medicated parents typically decide for or against medicating their children?

3. Are there comprehensive checklists of things to look out for and evaluate and for potential side effects for teachers, parents to use when children are taking ADD medications to make sure that we don't miss something important?

Thank you all in advance!

Rob

dvdnvwls
04-11-16, 01:37 PM
He might react to medication differently than you do. It might work better than it does for you. It might be horrible. Who knows.

If he tries it and it isn't good, he just quits it - no harm done.

I say try it and see what happens. Remember to be very patient while the doctor fine-tunes the dosage.

sarahsweets
04-11-16, 02:45 PM
http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=145739

Please read this ASAP. Im working on a longer reply to you now.

sarahsweets
04-11-16, 03:25 PM
My reasons for insisting on this is default, are admittedly, a bit high minded and maybe even arrogant of me. I think it's possible that as the only one in the decision making group who has actually taken and used ADD medications over an extended period of time, I may see negative effects of the medication that everyone else will overlook or discount. If that's the case, I don't want to be helpless to defend my son.
The thing is, I know personally what the long term costs and benefits of the medication have been. The immediate and daily benefit of being able to focus is huge, obvious to everyone, and it's a certain result of using the medication. But if I could go back in time, I'm not sure that I'd choose the same path.
it seems like your experience with meds is not a positive one.

Medicating my son would remove any motivation to develop these skills. Skills that other kids are, no doubt, developing.

No one in their right mind would only use medication and do nothing else to help a child cope, learn, manage and succeed. Behavior modifications and meds works best. Medication will not remove his motivation and, meds do not mean motivation for everyone. Motivation is something thats an issue for me even medicated.


There are also short term side effects of the medication that seem to get overlooked by those who don't have personal experience with the costs. In my experience the negative effects are several and significant, and I understand that many people face the same or similar side effects (I don't hear about anyone who doesn't experience any of these):
What costs? Why would you, yourself ever stay on medication with several significant side effects?

my growth was stunted and I was one of the shortest kids in school until I graduated high school and stopped taking the medication for a year. The height corrected itself, but the damage of being the little guy who got picked on all through school, never went away.

This is often emphasized by those who wish to instill fear instead of fact about meds. You say it stunted your growth but it didnt. It just took more time for you to get that teenage growth spurt at a time that you should have had one. Stunted is stopped or stopping growth. You would, loosely speaking
have to had reached your body's natural height and stopped.

- my appetite and taste was severely diminished. Even today, I often forget to eat breakfast and lunch and have trouble gaining weight as a result. Consequently, I'm really really skinny... something my wife comments about frequently. She likes to remind me that when she agreed to go out on a date with me, her friends told her to make sure that I ate a steak. Other people often comment about it as well.

But....this is not a med problem, its a you problem. You know you forget to eat but its your job to make yourself eat and eat well. This is not the med causing you to lose weight, its you not setting alarms on your phone, marking it down on a calendar, fixing a shake.
- I have no emotion when I'm medicated. As a result, people often think that I'm unfeeling, uncaring, disinterested, have no sense of humor, dislike them, or don't even notice when I'm around, even if we're interacting.

All tell tale signs that you are on too high of a dose or the wrong med.

- I'm unable to effectively communicate or articulate verbally while medicated. If I'm going to be interacting with people (something I love to do), I can't take the medication unless I'm sure that it will have worn off by the time that I meet.

Then why take it at all? Dont you need to communicate and interact with people all the time?

- I'm not able to be nearly as creative or spontaneous as I can be without the medication. I need to separate creative parts of my job somehow and try to think about them when I'm not medicated and when the creative strategies and ideas flow more easily.

Again- wrong med, wrong dose. Why would anyone keep taking meds if they felt that way? Whats the benefit?

- Because I'm dependent on the medication and because it takes an hour or so to kick in, I can't really get anything done for the first 45 min to an hour until after I've taken the medication. It's wasted time every day.

But wouldnt you waste the same amount of time unmedicated anyway?


- The daily crash of coming off of the medication is no fun. It can be reduced with anti-anxiety medications, but that has its own side effects.

Its actually a lot more unusual to experience a crash at the proper,therapuetic dose. Too high of a dose can result in crashing.

- Because the medication will keep me awake and somewhat focused even after 48 hours if need be, I often have trouble figuring out sleep patterns and what I should really be getting. And when I try to get a full 8 hours of sleep, each day, I often find my mind racing into the night and I'm unable to sleep without Ambien.
this all screams 'too much, too much'. Regarding sleep- I am the resident sleep nazi after yearsof torture. To sleep well you need to retrain your body and it takes time.


- The medication doesn't fix a tendency (or maybe it exacerbates it) to hyper-focus. I often find myself spending far too long on different tasks, and I find that almost everything I do takes me longer than it should.

Welcome to ADHD!

And that often comes from seeing the way that people and colleges and media etc. talk about how ADD medications are abused. You don't hear about people abusing other drugs to enhance their daily performance (for recreational purposes, sure... but not in order to gain a "competitive mental edge"). uummm, ever hear of steroids or HGH?



Yes---without a doubt, the issue of potentially medicating my own son is raising my own insecurities and personal experiences with ADD and medication. I don't want to burden him with those if they are unfounded.

And we as parents have to fight against that.

I understand that my own experiences may not be my son's experience at all. But I've also known enough people who use ADD medications over the years who have similar issues issues that I don't think I'm making a completely blind jump to see these things, not as merely possible side effects, but rather as real implications of the medications.

I have been on meds for over 10 years. My son was one of the youngest children in the state to be medicated (age 4) he actually participated in some studies.


There is a potential alternative that he falls behind in school, feels like a failure, becomes depressed, and doesn't reach his potential because he can't concentrate and because we're unable to help him in other ways, in which case, maybe the negative impact is worthwhile.

No not potential- likely, statistically possible, statistically proven, factual and common.

But he might also be able to develop strategies for effectively dealing with ADD and use it to his advantage.
which he should still learn with meds.


Look, obviously Im very passionate- partly because of how much footwork I had to do for my son and how I was always on the defense because of my choice.
And I take very seriously the idea that its my duty to inform the ill-informed, or defend the good parents trying and protect the precious , misunderstood kids. They deserve the best chance-NOT a fair chance, or an almost chance; THE BEST OPPORTUNITY to lead a life beyond their wildest dreams.
We as parents owe that to our kids. Especially if we have adhd- we have to jump in the shark cage and rattle some sh*t.
We have to protect them from self medicating with alcohol or drugs because they feel a certain way and dont have the defense against it.

You owe your son a childhood and home life that was better than yours.

robbyvegas
04-11-16, 04:54 PM
Thanks for this. I'll reply later tonight. You're correctly advocating education and information. And I applaud that!

Will you please point me to everything you know of regarding the following:

1. What has been your experience as a parent with ADD who uses medication in deciding to medicate your own children?
- I really appreciated your post that you referred me to with your own experience. Thank you! If you know of other perspectives (I almost said "unbiased" but I don't think that's really possible in the situation I'm asking about;)), please point me to them. I'm really looking to learn as much as I can.

2. Clinical studies about -
- short term affects and side effects (cognitive, physical, mental, and/or emotional) of these medications (technical is fine...)
- long term impact of the medications
- statistics on frequency of positive/negative ADD diagnoses and prescriptions.
- statistics on second generation medication. Do medicated parents typically decide for or against medicating their children?
- Your email mentioned "likely, statistically possible, statistically proven, factual and common" evidence of unmedicated children with ADD "fall[ing] behind in school, feel[ing] like a failure, becom[ing] depressed, and [not] reach[ing] his potential because he can't concentrate and because we're unable to help him in other ways." I'm not asking to be contrary. If you can point me to the clinical studies and reports, PLEASE DO?!?
- Similarly, if you know of resources where people have found success through love and attention (I'm saying it that way because your older post talked about "beating" it out of a kid, which will NEVER even be CONSIDERED an option:umm1::eek:) and not meds, let me know. I realize that some people think that its either pro-meds or anti-meds. But look at my post... I don't fit into either category, and I'm not approaching it that way. I take meds every day and have to in order to function in my profession. I'm trying to figure out what is best for my son. Obviously, I'm open to both possibilities. You asked why anyone would take the medication if they experienced the things that I do. The answer is simple - I MUST focus and my strategies for coping without medication are insufficient. Your point also illustrates why I'm worried about my son's experience (but more than willing to try it whole-heartedly). If he has the same experiences that I do with meds, I don't want to subject him to it. I want to find another way to help him function. But as I said, we're trying meds NOW, and I hope that they work without the side effects that I've experienced (he's a different human being, but he does carry my DNA, and his behavior largely matches my own, so I'm aware that he might respond to meds the same way).

3. Are there comprehensive checklists of things to look out for and evaluate and for potential side effects for teachers, parents to use when children are taking ADD medications to make sure that we don't miss something important?
- Just FYI, we don't have behavioral or discipline problems. The only problem is one of him frequently being off in outer-space. I have the same problem. That's all that we're looking to help him with. If the meds change other parts of him, it will be too much. The checklists and advice that I have found largely deal with affecting behaviors like rule breaking and bullying, and consequently don't fit our situation.

You may well be right about my own dosages or medications. Since I was in 7th grade some 25 years ago, I've used ritalin/methylphenidate, Adderall, Strattera, Focalin, and Vyvanse. I've tried them in different dosages and found that I often get no result at all or I deal with the various side effects that I mentioned. I've been to several different doctors. It's been a life long journey, and it's one that I'll continue to work at. I will try cutting my dosage again to see if it can cut the side effects without losing the positive effect. That's not me being anti-meds. :)

You seem to be reading my genuine question as an attack on ADD meds. It's not. Not at all. I really, really, really hope that the right medication for HIM will make all the difference in the world. It's really truly a genuine petition for information and advice. If it wasn't, I would never have agreed to a 2 month trial or proposed taking a week off and then two more weeks with the medication so that we could see how it affects his personality.

robbyvegas
04-11-16, 10:48 PM
Bump. I'd really appreciate any studies that anyone can point me to.

Thanks,
Rob

sarahsweets
04-12-16, 04:44 AM
Thanks for this. I'll reply later tonight. You're correctly advocating education and information. And I applaud that!

Will you please point me to everything you know of regarding the following:

1. What has been your experience as a parent with ADD who uses medication in deciding to medicate your own children?
- I really appreciated your post that you referred me to with your own experience. Thank you! If you know of other perspectives (I almost said "unbiased" but I don't think that's really possible in the situation I'm asking about;)), please point me to them. I'm really looking to learn as much as I can.

2. Clinical studies about -
- short term affects and side effects (cognitive, physical, mental, and/or emotional) of these medications (technical is fine...)
- long term impact of the medications
- statistics on frequency of positive/negative ADD diagnoses and prescriptions.
- statistics on second generation medication. Do medicated parents typically decide for or against medicating their children?
- Your email mentioned "likely, statistically possible, statistically proven, factual and common" evidence of unmedicated children with ADD "fall[ing] behind in school, feel[ing] like a failure, becom[ing] depressed, and [not] reach[ing] his potential because he can't concentrate and because we're unable to help him in other ways." I'm not asking to be contrary. If you can point me to the clinical studies and reports, PLEASE DO?!?
- Similarly, if you know of resources where people have found success through love and attention (I'm saying it that way because your older post talked about "beating" it out of a kid, which will NEVER even be CONSIDERED an option:umm1::eek:) and not meds, let me know. I realize that some people think that its either pro-meds or anti-meds. But look at my post... I don't fit into either category, and I'm not approaching it that way. I take meds every day and have to in order to function in my profession. I'm trying to figure out what is best for my son. Obviously, I'm open to both possibilities. You asked why anyone would take the medication if they experienced the things that I do. The answer is simple - I MUST focus and my strategies for coping without medication are insufficient. Your point also illustrates why I'm worried about my son's experience (but more than willing to try it whole-heartedly). If he has the same experiences that I do with meds, I don't want to subject him to it. I want to find another way to help him function. But as I said, we're trying meds NOW, and I hope that they work without the side effects that I've experienced (he's a different human being, but he does carry my DNA, and his behavior largely matches my own, so I'm aware that he might respond to meds the same way).

3. Are there comprehensive checklists of things to look out for and evaluate and for potential side effects for teachers, parents to use when children are taking ADD medications to make sure that we don't miss something important?
- Just FYI, we don't have behavioral or discipline problems. The only problem is one of him frequently being off in outer-space. I have the same problem. That's all that we're looking to help him with. If the meds change other parts of him, it will be too much. The checklists and advice that I have found largely deal with affecting behaviors like rule breaking and bullying, and consequently don't fit our situation.

You may well be right about my own dosages or medications. Since I was in 7th grade some 25 years ago, I've used ritalin/methylphenidate, Adderall, Strattera, Focalin, and Vyvanse. I've tried them in different dosages and found that I often get no result at all or I deal with the various side effects that I mentioned. I've been to several different doctors. It's been a life long journey, and it's one that I'll continue to work at. I will try cutting my dosage again to see if it can cut the side effects without losing the positive effect. That's not me being anti-meds. :)

You seem to be reading my genuine question as an attack on ADD meds. It's not. Not at all. I really, really, really hope that the right medication for HIM will make all the difference in the world. It's really truly a genuine petition for information and advice. If it wasn't, I would never have agreed to a 2 month trial or proposed taking a week off and then two more weeks with the medication so that we could see how it affects his personality.

Im sorry if I gave you the impression that you were attacking meds. Thats not what I meant. Obviously you have had experience with medication so I know you are not against it as a whole. And I identify with what you shared. My son was very young when he started meds and I had to defend our choice to so many people that I just wanted share what had worked for us. I do not have any scientific studies to cite ,and I am not a stimulant expert as far as the science behind it goes. Being that he started meds at age 4, and is 20 now, I felt like at the very least it would be encouraging that through it all, he grew into a functional outstanding man. 16 years of him being under the care of the same psychiatrist, and the improvement in his quality of life, is at least antecdotal evidence from a parental perspective that may help you in deciding whats best for your son.

I wanted to put your mind at ease as far as coping skills and learning the right tools for success, and being motivated to be an active participant in his own life.

Had he not been medicated, he would not have had the ability to learn the basics like rudimentary math and writing, social structure, confidence, self soothing, social cues, managing anxiety and reading. He is a voracious reader but when he was unmedicated, he couldnt sit still or pay attention long enough to get through a book for pleasure, let alone the kind of material he needed for school.

I have known so many parents of kids who did not consider medication of any sort who experienced the devastating effects of things like addiction, legal troubles and actually ending up in a situation that was physically and emotionally dangerous. I know that you have had personal experience with meds, but this is the first time you will have experience dealing with a child and the possibility of medication, so I viewed it as uncharted territory for you.

I want people to feel hopeful, and that our long-term experience may not be backed by science but its a life lesson in trial and error, and never giving up.

I want parents to give kids the very best chance to live a normal or almost normal healthy life; mentally and physically.

I hear you on the trial and error process but what if the improvement is life changing and dramatic in a positive way but either you or your wife arent ready to commit to meds beyond the 2 months? Then what?

Twiggy
05-29-16, 09:33 AM
It's awesome that you care so much for your son.
Sometimes kids can't tell you how meds are affecting them.
It's good to use caution.