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Power, Productivity and Pills: A Dangerous Triad

Adderall is the prescription drug that just keeps on giving, regrettably continuing to give treatment centers like Timberline Knolls more profoundly addicted people to treat.

Adderall is an amphetamine. It’s legitimately used to treat narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For years, this drug was typically misused by college students to facilitate studying. Then, it moved on to busy moms, who had too much to do, too little time, and existed daily under the unforgiving superwoman myth.

Now, Adderall, and similar stimulant medications, have permeated many areas of the work force.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, stimulant abuse, addiction and overdose is escalating at an alarming rate. A 2013 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that emergency room visits related to nonmedical use of prescription stimulants among adults 18 to 34 tripled from 2005 to 2011, to almost 23,000.

Those taking stimulants claim they use them to increase work performance and productivity; many believe these drugs are imperative to succeeding in today’s competitive work force. The thought process goes like this: “If my counterpart is possibly using a stimulant to maximize her productivity, or even just because she actually has ADHD, I better get some for myself to level the playing field.” Obtaining a prescription is as easy as visiting a doctor and reciting a laundry list of ADHD symptoms (easily found on the Internet).

The numbers alone indicate that the ploy works. About 2.6 million American adults received ADHD medication in 2012; this is a rise of 53 percent in only four years. Use among adults 26 to 34 almost doubled. It is unlikely that the prevalence of ADHD legitimately escalated that rapidly in the general population.

The truth is many individuals are addicted to perfectionism, competition and winning in the workplace. They will go to any lengths to get that, including putting their lives at risk. And, they are applauded for doing so. They are viewed as a dedicated, productive and efficient employee.

What employer would NOT love someone who works that hard?

Stimulant abuse can fuel work addiction. Underneath it all is a lie: you are not good enough as you are; you are only worthy if you perform better than anyone else and work at breakneck speed; you only have value if you achieve a certain salary, position or title.

These success imperatives are born of shame and based on lies that someone or society tells you about yourself.

At the end of the day, the question always remains: what is the price of success? If it is jeopardizing a person’s immediate and long-term health, then the price is clearly too high.

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