ADHD Medication Controversy

The ADHD Medication Controversy Rages On

The ADHD Medication controversy rages on. Brett Thornhill isn’t one to stir the pot and create controversy but he’s happy to call the kettle black. About a week ago, I posted a piece from The New York Post by Peter Shankman, who I’ve had on the show before and am a huge fan of his.
His article, Stop Drugging ADHD Kids – and start teaching them to use their gifts, can be found here.

Brett’s Awesome Quote concerning the ADHD medication controversy:

ADHD Medication Controversy“It troubles me when I hear people either
completely rail against medication or to
say it’s the savior and be all and end all.”



ADHD Medication Controversy

Here’s Brett’s response, which I feel is share worthy:

“There is much in the underlying theme of this article that I agree with in principle, but not in isolation and not in its entirety. The myth that ADHD medication suppresses the ability of otherwise creative geniuses is a gross and misleading overstatement. It minimizes many of the severe negative impacts experienced by some individuals who have challenges just getting through their day. If a person is taking a stimulant, or non-stimulant medication, as part of the treatment strategy for their ADHD and it is flattening their personality or killing their creativity, it is very likely that they are either taking the wrong medication or wrong dosage for them.

A Measured Response

The measured response is to explore other options rather than abandoning the idea of medical treatment entirely. Extreme blanket statements against medication like we see here ignores the biological nature of the condition and only serves to propagate the negative stereotypes that surround it. The right medication, taken appropriately, under the right circumstances and in the correct dosage can just as easily unlock the tremendous creativity and other abilities that lie within an individual with ADHD, but is being blocked by, what in some case, can be severe executive function challenges.
A well thought out and tested individual approach is a better option than the demonization, or super-power enabling attributes all too regularly applied to ADHD medication. It can be a very effective PART of an overall treatment strategy… Full Stop! To come down so hard on one side or the other of the issue does not serve the ADHD community well, in my opinion. In fact, it only serves to muddy the waters between well-serving discussions that need to be had regarding denial of legitimacy, over or mis diagnosis and effective multi-modal treatment strategies.”

Coaches do collaborate together on projects from time to time. Brett Thornhill is my friend and colleague with whom I coproduce the podcast  The ADD Couple. Please do check it out if you want to hear two ADHD Coaches talk about all things ADHD.
Thus the setting for today’s episode.
Please let us know your thoughts on the medication controversy below.
~ Jennie



Relevant Resources:
Brett on Twitter:
Facebook                                                                                        Website                                                                                                 The ADD Couple on iTunes
ADHD Medication ControversyADHD Medication ControversyADHD Medication Controversy


  1. While I understand medication is not for everyone. My son is not able to function in daily settings such as school or social situations without it. As he has gotten older he is starting to be able to regulate himself a little bit when his meds aren’t in his system but, he still has a long way to go. To say that the meds possibly squash his creative mind is not true at all. My son simply needs the means that medication helps provide to slow down his mind long enough to focus on what he is trying to share with the people around him. It isn’t a cure or a long term fix but, for a part of the day he is able to focus and do his school work. I am proud that my son is different but, he still needs to be able to socialize and complete school work in order to gain any ground in life. My hope is in the near future things will change and/or medications will improve but it is the right help we need for now and maybe ongoing.

    1. Yes, Jen, I hear you and agree! My clients who do use medication make progress on their goals more quickly than those who don’t. But I know some people can’t take the medication and so, I see many shades of grey in this area. It’s just not black or white to me at all. It’s a personal choice and I applaud you for making one for your son that best suits your family right now. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Hi Jen,

      I recognize the challenges that every parent experiences when making the decision to allow their children to take medication of any kind. We all obviously would love to be in a situation where it wasn’t necessary. But if a child had a “physical” as opposed to a “mental” condition, then denying medication, or lobbying for the denial of medication that would greatly improve their quality of life would be seen as neglectful and irresponsible. Yet much of society seems to frown upon the use of stimulant medication for ADHD as a way of choosing convenience over hard work. To echo Jennie’s sentiment, there are many individuals who are unable to or choose not to treat their ADHD medically, and I pass absolutely no judgment upon them. There are many other strategies that can, and should be, employed to treat ADHD, in addition to medication. But it troubles me when people take the all or nothing approach on the basis of some erroneous notion that medication is evil, flattens what is presumed to be some form of innate talent that would otherwise flourish, or that to use medication somehow implies that the impacted individual is weak. Thank you so much for responding to our conversation and sharing your viewpoint.



  2. To only speak for myself. Now that I know I have had ADHD all my life yet didn’t recognize until daughter was diagnosed and it explained everything from my school to social abilities (or lack there of) I am 44 and take medication because the complaint of losing my concentration and burning green beans was increasing. The meds helped me focus back on priorities although this did not hinder my creativity it helped me prioritize the things that needed to be done before I can sit and tunnel into my craft. This is the best way to describe the difference in needing medication (yet I don’t want it for I hate depending on a medication) and using a medication that’s not needed. Most people (my husband) can stay on task and never get distracted. Yet a adhd mind will see a towel dirty in the kitchen while cooking dinner and take it to laundry room. Which then leads to folding from dryer to taking cloths to kids room then knowing somewhere in this mind something is being neglected but can’t recall what it is but your child has left dishes in his room and you begin to straighten room and dish in hand as well as dirty cloths you drop off in laundry room only to lay.dishes on washer to pick up the Pile of socks that just has to be matched for whatever reason, but only takes few minutes. Then you smell something burning….. after taking care of the mess in kitchen your so exhausted and disgusted with self you get lost in a painting and time passes but when spouse gets home and truss to help but you find he is trying to figure out why dishes are in the laundry room on the cloths washer…. one typical day of every day of a adhd brain without meds. On meds list our made first thing in morning signs on walls where things go. Time is watched. Beepers used and not forgotten to be set. What is first second and last known not standing in house getting a headache to try to remember (no exaggeration) for 15 minutes. Now I find out that the stress to focus is why I grind my teeth so bad that my dentist said he never seen teeth so warn down. In school this was my way to stay focused or in task that required concentration. Now imagine I joined the U.S. navy. The amount of grinding was not from a saw. To mass they didn’t catch the symptoms then. Well now come to find out this is only getting worse as I age to where I cant even touch bottom to top of back teeth. Together unless I move jaw and when my front teeth are together I can put my tongue between my back teeth. I need the meds before I damage not only my teeth but my jaw. Watch your children if to concentrate the have to clench teeth or grind this may be the sign your child needs meds. This can lead to excessive chewing to a eating disorder of always needing to chew although not hungry. If only they looked beyond the pushing through and what that means for ADHD.

    1. Hi Kay! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I bet there are so many others who will read this and think, oh wow…maybe that’s what’s going on with me…or my kid! I know by talking about it we’ll figure out a way to loose the stigma around taking medication and even for having ADHD whether you use the meds or not. The way you described your day is exactly how many of my clients go through their days, so, know you aren’t alone. I’m glad the medication is making a positive difference for you!

  3. Hi Kay,

    I so appreciate your willingness to share the frustrations that your ADHD has caused as a way to help others understand that in many cases, choosing to take medication is much more than simply a choice of convenience. The significance of taking stimulant medication as part of a treatment strategy can be much more than simply a lifestyle choice, as is sometimes implied. The impacts of the condition can be significant indeed, and examples like yours help illustrate the quality of life issues that are sometimes at stake.

    Warmest Regards,


  4. There’s no medication controversy. 🙂

    There are only people who stand to profit from fear-mmongering on the topic, people whose own person fears about medication cloud their perspective, and rational people who know that, while stimuland medication is the single-most effective tool in the ADHD toolbox, not everyone with ADHD will chose to take medication, and that’s their business.

    But no non-expert should be dissuading or shaming people about evidence-based treatment options of any type.


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