Conflicts arise due to side effects of ADHD medication

Ankita Tejwani

Senior Melody Eslamian was faced with a choice: she could focus in school and get good grades, or she could eat, sleep and get through the day.

For Eslamian, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), taking prescription dextroamphetamines significantly improved her grades and ability to focus during her sophomore year.

“Your brain is just so productive. You’re on a roll, you know exactly what you need to do and you get stuff done,” Eslamian said about the medication.

According to Special Education Teacher Scott Victorine and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, parents reported in 2007 that approximately 9.5% of children from the ages of 4-17 (which is about 5.4 million children in America) have been diagnosed with ADHD. What people don’t see, however, is that these “miracle drugs” can have side effects, including difficulty eating and sleeping, irritability and exhaustion.

“[ADHD] can be regulated with different medications, but at the end of the day you can’t snap out of it— you have to live with it,” Victorine said.

Eslamian often experienced mood swings and exhaustion after the initial burst of energy from the pill would wear off. She also lost a significant amount of weight while on the medication because she was not able eat or sleep enough.

“You just feel terrible. You know you’re hungry but you just can’t eat,” Eslamian said. “It’s the weirdest feeling.”

Eventually Eslamian decided that getting good grades was not worth the side effects of her medication, and she now only takes it when she has to get a lot of work done. Eslamian explains that it was a very hard decision for her to make, but she had to put her well-being first. While Eslamian chose not to take the medication, many who do not suffer from ADHD voluntarily take the pill.

According to an anonymous senior without ADHD who requested to not be named, many of her peers illegally sell Adderall to those who are not prescribed with ADHD. She has personally used it to help her focus on the SAT and to study for tests.

“When you space out, you want to come back and work,” the anonymous source said. “The Adderall helps with that. I took half the dosage that a kid that was prescribed. I didn’t want to eat though [because I felt] bad afterwards.”

Like Eslamian, the anonymous source suffered from stomach aches, lack of sleep and moodiness, though she felt that taking the medication was worth it. Eslamian agrees with the anonymous source, and sees nothing wrong with people taking drugs such as Adderall on important occasions as long as they are aware of the side effects.

While these prescribed drugs can be beneficial to many having to face this disorder, it can also be detrimental to their health. It’s a choice that almost everyone prescribed with ADHD has to face everyday.