The Ritalin Kid Tells All

“Ritalin-SR-20mg-full” by en:User:Sponge. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Fix allows Nick Dothée to defend his diagnosis of ADD and use of the wildly over-prescribed drug Ritalin:

I think I thought I’d wake up one day and this would be fixed – a non-issue. I’d be cured; no longer in constant pursuit of getting my fix, but rather I’d just have it in me, always – the clarity I had as a kid.

ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder. This disorder, and the drugs associated it, have been all-the-buzz in the media for at least a decade or so, but it’s been my daily reality for much longer; I’ve been haunted by those three letters for most of my life.

I was officially diagnosed with ADD, and prescribed Ritalin by the family doctor, around the third grade. Back then, I’d spit out the little yellow pills in the playground drinking fountain at recess. I was convinced that the substance did nothing for me other than make me nauseous. This was a Nick that had no interest in altering his personality in any way. By the fourth grade I made it quite clear to my teachers and parents, who urged me to focus in class and control my hyper behavior so as not to disturb the other children, that my main interest was moving forward in my career. I had already informed my mother, when I was eight, that I had to quit the local choir and begin to build my résumé, but some things bear repeating. A play or performance of any kind was always more powerful than the Ritalin. My attention and focus was laser sharp when it came to a stage and the opportunity to perform.

Today we know that ADD affects not only children but also adults that have either always had the chemical imbalance or acquired it from lifestyle-changing circumstances such as addiction and substance abuse. For adults, with or without ADD, it’s all about the Adderall.

Around 25, after fulfilling my childhood plan of moving to NYC, I started taking my medication – and then some. The rejection I hadn’t prepared myself for caused me not only to seek therapy for a pain I couldn’t relieve, it also began a cycle of self-medicating with drugs (legal and otherwise) and alcohol. Anything I could find to quiet the relentless and often harsh thoughts spinning at an overwhelming and sometimes paralyzing pace.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that people casually diagnose themselves with ADD. Guess what, not always listening or being able to pay attention is not ADD, it’s human. People downplay the severity of this chemical imbalance, and as I get older and struggle with the link between my ADD and my addictions, the flippancy people have about ADD is beginning to piss me off. ADD is real, and can often be crippling to someone who is desperately trying to function in society and follow through with his or her life goals on a day-to-day basis. ADD or ADHD (adding in some hyperactivity is all) is not just an excuse to prescribe fun drugs for people to pawn off to their friends without the disorder. That’s just a perk…

[continues at The Fix]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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19 Comments on "The Ritalin Kid Tells All"

  1. The top comment on the article is right. I think if we flipped “ADD” for “addiction” this story would ring more true.

  2. erte4wt4etrg | Aug 3, 2014 at 12:32 pm |

    Fourth grade drug addicts huh, ‘moving forward in my career’….always amazing how the grownups destroy the children.

  3. Echar Lailoken | Aug 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm |

    I once worked on a project to form a charter school for kids with add/adhd, as well as other students interested. The idea was to form the school around the students and teachers needs.

    Less students per teacher, and better pay for the teachers. The school board blocked it. Charter school is a dirty word to them, a risk to their money. The teachers Union is the cause of that. This is one of the few instances where I decry Unions.

    To be clear, some individuals may benefit from the meds. However, Some may be on them for the convenience of parents, guardians, and public school teachers. It’s too bad we as a society are unwilling to adapt the system to the needs, instead of forcing the students to fit the system.

    • InfvoCuernos | Aug 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm |

      I don’t understand why the teacher’s union would be against better pay and less students per class. Is it having to deal with classrooms full of ADD diagnosed kids? Sometimes I think people just get into politics to be contrary. I think what would help a lot of these kids out is finding something to focus on besides electronic media.

      • Echar Lailoken | Aug 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm |

        Charter schools mean less money for them to play with. Some of the money the Teachers Union would get to give themselves raises, or whatever would be diverted to alternative education. The Teachers Union controls the board.

        A person would think that, but how often do people do the right thing in politics?

        The plan for the school was more detailed than less students for teachers, and more qualified and better paid teachers. There would be activities geared to specific needs, training, and all sorts. It’s a visionary goal. We generated a lot of donations. It even hit the front page of the Pioneer Press, but got turned down twice.

        As far as electronic media, I honestly feel that electronic media could assist in this instance. Such as educational games . Although the cost of maintaining hardware and procuring software could be a challenge.

        • InfvoCuernos | Aug 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm |

          Real world problems are always easier to solve when I look at them on a comment board, but I know that issues like this are always more complex than it is possible to present. Political entities such as boards seem to be as populated by the self sacrificing as they are the self serving-unfortunately the self serving absorb or deflect the good that people try to do. I wish I could imagine a world where that was not true.

          Electronic media could help, and there may even be roles for older children in the maintenance of the equipment-in fact, I can’t imagine a school without computers nowadays. What I mean is that it is way too easy for these phones and games to distract kids from any kind of learning. Hell, learning how electronics worked saved me from from D&D lol.

          • Echar Lailoken | Aug 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm |

            I see your point about the dymanics of the self serving and the self absorbed.

            Cellphones were bricks when I was in school, and pagers weren’t really a distraction. So that did go over my head. I have read about the challenges of communication devices in modern schools.

          • InfvoCuernos | Aug 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm |

            I graduated before the first cellphones hit the market, so I can’t even fathom what the modern school is like. Add to that the fact that I grew up in a rural community where it was acceptable to have guns for hunting in your car or truck in high school, and I probably shouldn’t even be allowed to participate in conversations about modern education.

      • Echar Lailoken | Aug 3, 2014 at 2:42 pm |

        Apparantly it had been turned down 5 times as of 2007.

        A proposed charter school for students with attention disorders and dyslexia will not open next fall as supporters had hoped.

        ADDvantage Learning Academy was rejected for the fifth time this
        fall. State education officials said it wasn’t clear how the school
        would better meet the needs of the students it would aim to serve and didn’t have “academic goals that are specific and measurable.”

        Sue Lindgren, co-founder of the proposed school, said backers are
        looking for a sponsor and consultant so they can rework the proposal to address those concerns.

        “It’s disappointing, but we’ll be applying again,” Lindgren said.
        “If we have to come back 150 times, we will. It just seems like the
        focus is not on the kids and whether there is a need and can it be

        The administrative back-and-forth has been under the radar. But
        the proposal for a first-of-its-kind school in Minnesota is garnering
        supporters as well as reigniting a discussion of how best to teach
        children who have the disorders.

    • Why did it have to be a private charter school financed with taxpayer money? Why not a public school for all kids with ADD/ADHD?

      • Echar Lailoken | Aug 4, 2014 at 12:09 am |

        Charter schools are public.

        • Oginikwe | Aug 4, 2014 at 9:32 am |

          I thought that by definition, students had to pay to attend charter schools. I know they are public financed but I’ve seen lotteries for charter schools. If they are public, why the lotteries?

          • Echar Lailoken | Aug 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm |

            The lotteries are typically used because so many parents want their children to attend, and because of the shortage of charter schools. I think?

            Maybe it differs in other states? I am not expert on them, nor the beuracracy involved in each state. Perhaps some places insist on fees for charter schools. According to quote below, they don’t require fees though.

            How are charter schools funded?

            As public schools, charter schools are tuition-free. They are funded according to enrollment levels and receive public funds on a per pupil basis. In some states, such as Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, and New Jersey, they receive less than 100% of the funds allocated to their traditional counterparts for school operations.


            We had to pay something like $300 at the beginning of the year to go to the average public highschool I went to in Utah. Much of that went to the sports program. I believe it depends on the values of the state representatives. There’s also LDS seminaries at every highschool, so that should tell you something. Minnesota required no such BS fees, nor would they squander it mostly on sports programs.

          • Oginikwe | Aug 4, 2014 at 9:59 pm |

            I’m sorry, but I know very little about charter schools.
            So my question is this: if charter schools are tuition-free, funded according to enrollment levels, and receive public funds on a per pupil bases, what sets them apart from any other public school? Isn’t that the very definition of a public school?

          • Echar Lailoken | Aug 4, 2014 at 10:36 pm |

            What sets them apart is how they educate. The curriculum is different. I think charter schools may be what alternative schools were in 80s and 90s.

            No need to be sorry, I want to make it clear that I am not an authority on this topic, so the information I offer may be incorrect.

            What I do know, is that I feel as a youth that I would have benefitted much from going to one. I was so disinterested with normal public education that I hated going. An alternative/charter school may have offered me challenges and held my interests. My life may have been drastically different.

            I get the feeling that some charter schools offer many of the perks of private schools, but are public. Such as teachers that know all of their students, their strengths, where they can improve, etc…

            I get the impression that charter schools may be more dynamic. However, there are varying types. Some for underdeveloped/challenged students. Some for students with learning styles that average public education doesn’t support.

            Sadly they are seen as a risk to education funds. From my perspective, we as a society must bend over backwards to ensure every student has access to the best possible education for them.

            Average public education is designed for the average student. Any student that does not fit within this misses out or drops out.

          • Thank you for your patience and viewpoints. 🙂

          • Echar Lailoken | Aug 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm |

            Thanks for pushing me. 🙂

  4. Draken Blackknight | Sep 14, 2014 at 7:23 am |

    This guy’s a junkie and it’s Big Pharma’s fault.

Comments are closed.