Connecting Life With ADD
By: Sharon Slayton
©ADD Solutions 2007
Three Cheers For Those Reds, Whites, and Blues (Part I)
Its like a bad flashback from the 80s – Nancy and Ron in a crowd, hands held, arms raised, announcing their answer to a massive crack and drug epidemic right here in the good old USA. Some people rallied right around the flag – declaring that the answer was really, after all, that simple. Just say no! On the other hand, a lot of comedians have kept comedy going on about it for some 20 years.
I’m willing to bet that the one thing that makes the flag pole dancers and the comedians keep going in different directions is that a lot of the comedians have lived around people who do crack and cocaine! So what’s the argument? Ultimately it really does come down to “just say no.” Having the willpower is a whole ‘nother slice of pie.
There’s more to that metaphor than meets the eye (here we go again). But let me warn you – I’m about to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me, God! It might not be your truth, but it is close enough to “good” that I don’t think anyone will have to stretch to far to see the point. I hope. Here goes… Let’s share a few frank words about drugs.
Have you ever lived with a drug addict? I have – several. They are now all successfully off what we call bad recreational drugs.
Have I tried recreational drugs? Lots of kinds – legal and otherwise. They’ve been a part of our lives and our culture since forever, guys – and especially in all of ours since the 60s. Whether it’s caffeine or nicotine, or Ritalin/Adderall and Valium in the morning (hey this is about kids too!). Its about taking that NSAID PM (that’s non-steroidal anit-inflammatory drug), to help you sleep at night. It’s having that little nip of alcohol with your “night time coughing, stuffy nose, aches, headache, fever, so you can rest medicine (antihistamines, and assorted drug cocktails). Welcome to the drug culture – come one, come all. Let’s talk about the other ones too – the millions of guys who take the true recreational drug – you know – the one your kids see every day, at all hours of the day and night on TV – the ones that cure “ED”.
I think the experiences I hear today on the street come from some of the most reliable sources of all. The “users.” I like to think of it as field research, but whether or not it holds up under empirical science rules is pretty irrelevant to them and to me. More and more people are offering kindly meant warnings that my work and association with them endangers the reputation I am working very hard to build. I think if I lose touch with them, I’ll lose a very vital part of the perspective, and besides – pretty much no matter who or what you are, you could be classified as a ‘user’ today.
In my opinion, these multiple experiences make them a pretty reliable source. And just to clear the air, the “experiences” I’m talking about range from people standing in line at the coffee counter in the morning, to people in bars. They range from people who have had 3 double vitamin energy drinks in one day to people hanging out smoking what they affectionately call “shit”. It includes watching people doing lines and pipes and pills and eating weird things. Thankfully, it has only included hearing about people using needles. Sorry, but I told you it was going to be about the truth.
They all have different stories and the drugs all supposedly do different kinds of things. Well, sort of. The stuff we end up hearing about as “recreational drugs” all play around with your brain. They all interact with your neural anatomy – this is your drug on brains. Let me tell you about your brain on drugs. This is your drain on brugs. Feeling psychedelic yet? If you went back to read that again, you’re ready. Kool-aid is optional, but wasn’t that fun?
The recreational drugs all have one thing pretty much in common. Somehow, somewhere, they act on your brain and/or dopamine. Adrenaline happens too, but it generally happens in tandem with dopamine. A few of them let you blur the lines of demarcation between nerve cells and start making things look and act pretty confused. Sometimes it makes you laugh a lot cause things look pretty silly when they start stretching and moving around in unexpected ways. That same brain makes you think a full moon in the sky is bigger than it really is (take a picture – the camera doesn’t lie – it’s your brain playing with the concepts of horizon and fooling you!)
Unfortunately, a lot of people on psychedelic drugs found out the hard way that your brain can fool you when those lines blur in some pretty devastating and frightening ways. They also found out that once you take it, you don’t always have a say in the future about when and where they might come unblurred again. Once the experience exists, the brain is liable to run into it from time to time. It is generally true that when they’re used with guidance in religious or spiritual quests, the folks usually come out very changed for the experience. Timothy Leary and a lot of earlier scientists tried to harness that, but overall, in this society it predictably failed. Isn’t reality strange enough? Just exactly what lines today would you want to be blurred? Just how clear do you want your picture?
Dopamine is the stuff that makes you feel good. It makes you want to learn more and sit in your chair when its good enough stuff to want to. Ahhhh, YES – so THAT’S why the amphetamines seem to work on folks with ADD! All but one of the ADD stimulant meds act on dopamine. Yep. Fill up those dopamine receptors with meth and dimethamphetamine and you’re pretty much fulfilled for the day. You’ll even see fulfillment where there is none, and if you doubt it, talk to a speed freak after they’ve slept awhile and ask them if they actually accomplished any of their enhanced thoughts and dreams during the ride.
Dopamine also tells your stomach to turn off and on – it’s safe to eat so take a load off and dig in. It also tells you when you’ve had enough, and its a real indicator in why overweight people so often say they eat because they’re unhappy. No wonder there’s always been a chocolate craze. Guess what chocolate does – raises dopamine. Dopamine is also the stuff that rats wanted so bad after getting a taste of cocaine that they stopped pushing the foot pedal for food and sat there doing nothing but pushing the pedal that kept the cocaine induced dopamine “ridin on.” (sorry Eric – you know better now.)
Before any of my scientist friends stand up and start “refuting”, let me just say, I know there’s a lot more going on than just dopamine here. But despite your need and ours to fund your next research project, the American public needs to know what you guys do, and what it means to them, now. Here it is folks – it’s basically at most levels, ultimately and verifiably about things that have a lot do to with dopamine. Gee, my second disclaimer in one column – tells you the need for some truth here really – I feel like I’m about to jump off the cliff now, but it needs to be said.
Its starting to look like this is running a little long – and dopamine isn’t going to be sufficient to keep you interested in my words much longer, so I’ll cut to the chase about dopamine and drugs. Its why people do stimulant drugs. Period. If you want a cheap, down and dirty way of dealing with the “drug” problem in young people today, then let’s call a spade, a spade, and talk about dopamine and drugs.
Did you know that there are a myriad of ways to raise your dopamine on purpose without using dangerous chemicals and drugs? It’s an ancient recipe, still in use today by people all over the world, whether they know it or not. It’s a true miracle cure. Just like some of the drugs, it has some bad side effects, like accelerated heart rate, irregular or increased breathing, occasional shortness of breath, changes in appetite, and even possible sexual side effects. Sometimes it is accompanied by fits of temper, sore throats, and nausea. When it’s really good stuff, it can cause euphoria and put the user into prolonged states of drifting and dreaming. If you don’t have it, you will eventually get sick, weaken, and die. This stuff is to be used with extreme caution.
Its called satisfying, heart felt work, eating food that is good for you, and doing the things that make for good life and life long health. How odd. Which do you want to show other people and our children the way to?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a child of the drug culture just like you. I take those NSAIDs and because of things like allergies and ADD I tell folks that I exist just fine through the benefits of modern chemistry. But there is a point where ease and lack of discomfort start to resemble those rats pushing the coke pedals in their cage. I think we’re just about there. Life and technology and globalization of the economy are starting to make it pretty hard for everyone to “just say no.”
I’m going to write more about this tomorrow…. Until then, go eat some great food, take every opportunity you can find to dream big, and get some sleep. Ultimately, they’re the best dopamine enhancers we’ve got going for us.