Students struggle to decide if ADD meds are worth it

Evelina Gaivoronskaia | Staff Writer

Sometimes focus can come with a price.

Many students with Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder rely on prescription drugs to bring them focus and calm in their day to day life. Although the medicine helps them in many ways, it also comes with some serious side effects. The National Institute of Mental Health defines ADHD as a pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiv- ity that comes in the way of day to day functions. Medications like Vyvanse are used to increase attention and decrease impulsiveness that comes with ADHD. Without the medicine, many students struggle to stay on task.

Freshman Deasiah Arrington said that her ADHD shows itself in her inability to focus and mood swings.

“I will sit down and then stand back up 15 times,” Arrington said. “When we have those long tests that we need to take where we’re in testing all day I can’t handle those days. I have to bring something to help me stay focused.”

Arrington said that she first found out she had ADHD in second grade and started taking medicine to help her get through the day, but she is not immune to the side effects that come with it.

“My biggest side effect is loss of appetite,” Arrington said. “When I’m on my medicine I have to force myself to eat. If I don’t eat before I take my medicine then I won’t be hungry and then I have to force myself to eat.”

After sixth grade Arrington decided to stop taking her medicine. She would put the medicine in her pocket and go to school. After some time her friends urged her to go back to taking her medications. Arrington said that she noticed the decline in her grades and attentiveness, which was another reason for her to come back to taking her medicine.

“So now I take my medicine at school, which helps, even though I hate it, but I know at the end of the day it’s helping me,” Arrington said. “Although I feel like I should be able to control myself, like other kids can. It makes me feel like less of a person.”

Since fourth grade senior Megan Murray has been taking Vyvanse to help with her ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). She says that although the medicine is helpful it brings other side effects.

“One of the side effects of Vyvanse is dizziness,” Murray said. “I have definitely felt it. I get very dizzy around 4th and 5th bell. I feel like I might pass out if I don’t drink enough water. So I have to bring two bottles of water to school.”

Murray said she hopes to be able to live without her medicine one day.

“I don’t see myself taking my medicine for the rest of my life,” Murray said.” I have been trying to not take my medicine for a couple day or a couple weeks. I can still function without it, it’s not like I am completely devoid of all things I can do. “

Murray’s dosage of Vyvanse works for 12 hours, so she has to plan around that in order to keep up with her school work. Murray said she usually talks to her teachers in the beginning of the year to tell them about her ADD, but she doesn’t want to be seen as someone who won’t pay attention.

“It’s just sometimes if I don’t seem like I am not paying attention, I just want [my teachers] to know that I am trying,” Murray said. “It’s one of those things that a lot of people struggle with. Especially students at Mason because there’s this higher level of how smart you need to be. You see how everyone else has these great grades and high GPAs and everyone wants that. Yet at the end of the day when you have ADD you can’t have the same goals as everyone else.”

Murray is still trying to figure out when to take her medicine and when not to. She said she can deal with the side effects and the schedule that medicine brings.

“Even though it’s a daily struggle that I have always dealt with, I try not to let it bring me down and keep me from doing things that I want to do, “ Murray said. “ADD is not something you should fear or something that forces you to take the medicine. At the end of the day ADD makes me who I am. I have overcome it and fought for the lifestyle that I have right now.”

Graphic by Riley Johansen.