Friday, January 18, 2008

Pay Attention!

Most of you have probably become acquainted with the knowledge now that use of ADHD drugs Ritalin and Adderall has soared in the MLB since 2006. One of the possible and often cited reasonings for this is that it is a legal way to get around the ban on amphetamines. It's pretty simple, too: go to a psychiatrist, get an ADHD diagnosis, get a prescription, ask for an exemption.

It should, of course, be harder than that, but that's not the point here.

This one strikes home for me.

You see, for much of my childhood, let's say ages eight to sixteen, I was on said medication. The memories that I associate with this are not happy memories.

Mostly they are memories of being told by various adults that I could not function properly without said medication, that I had to take it on the spot or I'd be a wild, uncontrollable, disobedient child...but there are other memories, as well.

There is the memory of the one time I took it before school, on an empty stomach, and got rather sick from it.

There is the memory of never being able to properly fall asleep.

There is, of course, the memory of knowing how I was never really allowed to feel quite like myself.

About the time I was just about to turn seventeen, I decided that I'd had enough. My parents were never up with me when I was eating breakfast, so it was incredibly easy to just not take the pill. So I didn't.

While I cannot 100% prove that the medication destroyed my digestive system, it does seem like the most likely culprit. My sleeping habits are still a mess, though the university life may be to blame there.


This is a rather bare account, I admit, but it gives you an idea. After all, most people on Ritalin or Adderall are not professional baseball players or grown ups, but school-age children who have (usually) no say in their own mental health. There are certainly some cases in which the drugs are needed, but for what it's worth, as I'm no doctor, often the issue is simply an overly imaginative child being forced to sit still for long periods of time.

The idea of baseball players using these drugs, glorifying them in a respect, is disgusting. For every baseball player trying to use it as a legal way to get around the ban on amphetamines, there is a heaping of children being told by their parents, their teachers and their doctors that they can't function without the drug, that having an imagination is a bad thing because it will make them misbehave.

I am passionate about this--but we tend to be passionate most about the things that affect us directly and I have been on Ritalin and I have been on Adderall. If you really need to concentrate, that much, have a cup of coffee, or better, tea, before the game.


  1. Fernando AlejandroJanuary 18, 2008 at 2:37 PM

    I agree. My brother and I had teachers recommend to our parents that we be put on medication, because as 6 year olds we had trouble sitting still and listening to our teacher read books. My parents didn't follow their advice.

    ADD and ADHD are over diagnosed. It may be me, but I think the 6 year old that can sit still for hours is the one we should be concerned about. Young children have active minds. Its normal.

  2. It is overdiagnosed but when its a teenager in that situation its something different.

  3. Their are countless counter-examples as well. As with any drug when it used when it shouldn't be it can be bad but for its intended purpose they are very good.

  4. The Doctor's CompanionJanuary 18, 2008 at 8:46 PM

    I'm sorry for your experience, I know that children are naturally hyper and have short attention spans-that's why they're children. Hopefully this will get squashed sooner than later.

  5. i wrote an article on my page about the abuse of these drugs in the mlb as well. Cant believe nobody saw it comming

  6. I wouldn't say this and then advocate caffeine, which is also addictive and unhealthy, but I get your point.

  7. having trouble sitting still as a 6 year old does not mean you have ADD or ADHD. Teachers shouldn't be the ones making the diagnosis either