Tracking For Failure

“Adderall is one of the most intense experiences. The room you’re in brightens and your senses become heightened. Initially euphoric, then, like quicksand, it slowly drains your essence (soul). When you wake up the next day the withdrawal symptoms make you feel weak and unintelligent as if the drug made you feel smart,” one 23-year-old’s response to trying Adderall recreationally for the first time.

Friends, this is the beginning of addiction—a harmless desire to be the best, to be happy, or to just have fun. The problem is tri-fold and doesn’t just begin with our high school and college aged children. No it starts at a much younger age, and not because of poverty but privilege.

Seriously, I see this foundation of low self-worth starting as young as first grade, and no, I’m not talking just about those “troubled children.” It won’t come as a surprise when I tell you that the archetypally labeled “troublemaker” is the easiest to target for a future riddled with problems, but what about the “good kid,” the one smiling and just passing by in school? We, as parents, teachers and coaches, think they are fine, but we are wrong, so very wrong. Things happen to kids that we have no idea about because they are too afraid to bring it up. Sometimes they’ve blocked a trauma out of their memory, but it still continues to navigate their soul to the dark side. That’s why communication is so important!

Over the past nine years, there’s been an influx of children diagnosed with ADHD with approximately 6.4 million people being diagnosed as of 2011— a 53 percent increase over the past decade! Unfortunately, I think that a lot of these diagnoses are inaccurate.

I once had a client, a young boy, with so much love and passion inside him, but he just didn’t know how to control it. He had a history of seizures, and it was quite the challenge keeping him focused, but I was creative and we’d get through it. One week his doctor prescribed him Ritalin, to increase his focus. At the time I was completely unaware, but the moment he walked through the door I knew something was terribly wrong. He walked in straight faced and spacey, no greeting and sat on the floor in the corner of the room staring at the wall.  I immediately called his mother and received the news, crushing my soul.

I’ve seen more times than I can count a kinesthetic learner being categorized as someone with ADHD.  What’s even more heartbreaking is that over 2/3 of those diagnosed have been prescribed drugs like Ritalin or Adderall. What’s failed to be discussed when prescriptions are written left and right is how close this drug is to methamphetamine (Meth). An article written by Alexander Zaitchik has some of the as the most powerful dialogue regarding this epidemic:

“Aside from some foul cutting material, Winnebago methamphetamine and pharmaceutical amphetamine are kissing chemical cousins. The difference between them boils down to one methyl-group molecule that lets crank race a little faster across the blood-brain barrier and kick just a little harder. After that, meth breaks down fast into good old dextroamphetamine, the dominant salt in America’s leading ADHD drug and cram-study aid, Adderall.”

Family and friends, this is horrifying! Compounded with the fact that the United States has seen a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin), and you realize the gravity of the situation. It’s all so closely tied together—medical diagnoses, prescriptions, and drug abuse.

Right now, heroin is the number one drug that’s swept across our country taking countless lives far too soon. If you watched the Super Bowl this year you’ll probably even remember that ad which broke the news to millions of viewers regarding the heroin epidemic. That’s some intense food for thought, but it’s obviously a ginormous issue if the National Campaign against Drug Abuse spent $10 million dollars to run a one-minute ad. In a 2014 survey, 94 percent of recovery opioid addicts said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”

How many of you are sitting or have sat on your couch, shaking your heads thinking about all of those rebellious and misguided teens who just can’t get their shit together? For goodness sakes, I’ve heard it so often, but let me tell you, it’s not just the “derelicts” or “bad kids” that are doing it, but those straight A, all-star athletes as well. We need to catch ourselves and stop looking down upon them with a furrowed brow as we grumble “get a job” under our breath. Do you think that an energetic toddler could’ve ever dreamed of an uglier life? Drug addicts don’t want to be where they’re at. They don’t want this shame lodged in their gut. They know they’ve caused grief and they know they’ve caused havoc for friends and family. I know they want to stop the madness and stop the voices that keep guiding them to that drug. No, it’s not a curse that has been placed over their head. It’s the lack of self-worth and self-love instilled at a very early age in life.

I recently blogged about how we’re putting too much pressure on our children at a young age, Adderall, meth, and heroin are all symptoms of this never ending pressure to be great. And with these pressures comes deep pain and hurt. The generational wounds are running deep in our millennial’s. Our kids can’t hold in the deep-rooted shame any longer, in whatever form it may be. They are in so much pain, not physical aches, but mental and spiritual chaos. At one point in their life IT seemed scary, until it wasn’t anymore and that quick sting of the needle provided as much relief as the coursing drug that followed shortly thereafter.

Drug dealers, whether old or young, are lingering around school campuses waiting to get our children hooked on their drug of choice, while selfishly hoping to fuel their own habits as well.

This needs to end. Look your children in the eye and tell them how much you love them. Acknowledge their sadness and sorrow if they have it. Open up and tell them how you felt when you were young. Let them see a deeper side of you that cares about their well being, not just today, but every day of their life. Keep it up. Stay consistent. Tone down the pressure and pour out the love. This is a very real and scary problem that we are facing, and it’s time for us to take a stand together to stop it in its tracks.

Be aware and stay consistent.