Building Trust with Your Teen with ADHD Takes Knowledge, Patience and Structure

Building Trust with Your Teen with ADHD Takes Knowledge, Patience and Structure

Building Trust with Your Teen with ADHD Takes Knowledge, Patience and Structure

This post is sponsored by Adlon Therapeutics L.P., a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.

Being a parent of a child with ADHD changes the lens of how you look at child-rearing and the responsibilities that go along with shaping an independent and responsible young adult.

Development of attentional functions (skills needed to process day-to-day life demands such as emotional regulation and decision-making skills) are often delayed or develop slowly in children with ADHD compared to those without ADHD.[1] It can feel like a burdensome job for the parent with no end in sight.

I used to say that my child with ADHD would do everything once. The learning curve for her was an experience. Good and bad. She was the first to jump in and try something out. She did not have a lot of cognitive stops in place and I was often her backstop. She was and still is impulsive. This placed a lot of stress on me as a parent navigating a teenager who wanted to be independent.

I tried to stay ahead of her journey to independence. I researched the strengths and weaknesses associated with having ADHD and considered her potential outcomes.

I joined as many ADHD support groups and associations that I could find at that time. In fact, I even became a specialist through my quest for knowledge, all to be prepared for what she “might” do. On a side note, I discovered meditation during this time, which was a savior for me to sustain mental toughness during the rough times.

By the time my daughter was 16, she wanted me to hand over the keys to her car, stop volunteering at her schooling events and let her be in control of her medication. Giving up the volunteering at the school events meant I had to give up my insight window into her teenage shenanigans. You can learn a lot about your teen’s decision-making skills by attending these events. Losing the ability to monitor her periodically reckless behavior was the most challenging part of giving her the independence she craved. I increased my meditation times from 5 to 10 minutes a day to deal with my anxiety around wanting to trust her to handle the temptations and dangers she would inevitably face. One of my favorite mantras was, “This too shall pass”. I used that a lot during those teen years.

Teenagers with ADHD are 36% more likely to get into a car accident than newly licensed drivers without ADHD, and in a study of all college students (both those with and without ADHD) almost 16% admitted to misusing prescription stimulants as study drugs.[2],[3] Misusing prescription drugs is when a medication is not used the way it is intended by the prescribing doctor. [4] This includes not just overusing but also sharing it. Read more about one student’s story here when he shared his medication with a fellow student.

If you are worried about your teen misusing their ADHD medication, here are some things to look out for:
  • Being more alert and hyperactive
  • Acting withdrawn or hostile
  • Being frequently tired or depressed
  • Trouble sleeping, agitation, anxiety and paranoia
  • Saying they need higher doses than prescribed & running out of pills
  • Excessive mood swings
Knowledge is powerful. Here are a few tips:
  • Ask for your doctor’s opinion. Many doctors these days have a portal where you can ask questions directly to them.
  • Know how the medication should be followed: read the prescription Medication Guide carefully

Knowing what to expect with medication can help you monitor the effects and better communicate with your doctor.

  • NEVER allow using prescription medication other than your own (even a family member)

Just don’t.

It sets the stage that it might be OK to share it with others.

Discuss the consequences of prescription stimulant medication misuse with your teen and reiterate that the medication is prescribed for them only.

  • Set rules & establish contracts

Sometimes, all it takes is setting up some ground rules and consequences for breaking them so they understand the importance of using their prescription stimulant medication correctly.

  • Keep their prescription medications safe

Help them to get away from temptations, keep track and lock up their prescription medications in a safe place, like a locked cabinet or box. This is also to make sure that they are not selling their medications to other people.[5]

Leaving unused and expired prescription medications should be avoided. You may consult with doctors for the proper way of disposing of unused medications.

You can also learn more about safe storage of prescription medicines through this interactive video and this digital course.

Through my deep breathing and in-depth research, I formalized my plan to allow for my daughter’s independence.

I gave her a longer leash but stayed close so that I could help her out when she needed it. We created a contract that entailed what she wanted while sticking to my boundaries. We agreed on what consequences would be invoked if I became aware of any violations.

We signed it together and each kept a copy. I meditated more and then let go of my fears…sort of.

The outcome was good overall. We did have to enact the consequences a few times…ok…quite a few times over the next 4 years.

Notice that I said 4 years. We maintained this contract until she was 20.

Since she lagged a few years in maturity, it took that long until she was truly independent. The point here is that it worked. I survived it.

So, what can you do to navigate building trust with a young adult with ADHD? Knowledge is the key to success. With the knowledge, I was able to stay a step ahead, notice signs of trouble and intervene quickly. I found resources for attentional issues while driving and risks of prescription medication misuse.

With my newly gained knowledge, I was eager to share it with her. The next challenge was getting her to listen to me. I mean, really listen to me. I knew she needed it broken into chunks of information with minimal distractions. I chose times that were strategic, like taking her to get pedicures where she was my captive audience for a solid hour. We can now look back at those times and joke about our conversations and how she knew that this would be a dual event when I booked the appointments. She got her nails done at the expense of having to discuss topics important to me. It was a good trade in her teen mindset!

During this uninterrupted mother and daughter time, we accomplished the groundwork. We worked through my concerns of newly found statistical information around ADHD. I would ask her questions to test her knowledge and thoughts around the issues. It proved to be very helpful to bring attention to it and talk through scenarios of what-ifs.

  • What if she was asked to share her prescription medications?
  • What would she do if she was driving to volleyball practice late knowing the coach would be upset at her?
  • How would she handle these and other types of situations?
My goal was to get her in the mindset, so that WHEN it did happen to her, she would have a plan of action.

Was my method perfect?

  1. Was it a good one? I would say yes. By preparing myself with information I was able to address the biggest concerns I had at the time: safe driving and not misusing her prescription medications. I had the knowledgebase to start these conversations with my daughter. My goal was to get her thinking about these situations and how she would handle them independently. It helped me let go of some of the control I felt as she gained independence.

Over time, the contracts became less of a parental threat and more of an agreement that we both could refer to when needed. It was the beginning of helping my daughter gain independence with tools to help make decisions that had some thought.

So, dig in and find out as much as you can about the risks associated with ADHD and stay a step ahead of your teen.

[1] Berger, Itai et al. “Maturational delay in ADHD: evidence from CPT.” Frontiers in human neuroscience vol. 7 691. 25 Oct. 2013, doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00691.  Accessed February 2021.
[2] Curry, Allison E et al. “Motor Vehicle Crash Risk Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” JAMA pediatrics vol. 171,8 (2017): 756-763. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.0910.  Accessed February 2021.
[3] The Ohio State University. “2018 College Prescription Drug Study.” Accessed February 2021.
[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse. Commonly Used Terms in Addiction Science. July 2018. Accessed February 2021.
[5] Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine.; 2018. pdf. Accessed February 2021.










Bulletproof Your “No” to the Pressure of Sharing ADHD Medication

Bulletproof Your “No” to the Pressure of Sharing ADHD Medication

Bulletproof Your “No” to the Pressure of Sharing ADHD Medication
This post was developed in collaboration with Adlon Therapeutics L.P, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.

As a continuation of my mini-series on sharing prescription medication, I will give you some tips on how to say NO to the pressure of saying YES.

Have you ever felt tempted to share your prescription ADHD medication with others? An option that you almost gave into? The whisper and teases of your friends urging you to do an unwise thing just once AND you seriously contemplate it. You might feel torn and conflicted to be chill and just go along with it but feel scared of the consequences. Can you relate to these feelings?

For a thoughtful answer to these questions, we should first consider why people would do it in the first place. Turning someone down by saying no may feel unnatural, like you’re rejecting that person as a friend.

Saying yes is easy. It can make a person happy, which can trigger feel-good brain chemicals called dopamine. It is in our human nature to want to help others and make them feel good too. Take for instance, the feeling of giving someone a gift. Have you ever given a gift or done something for someone else without getting something in return and felt more satisfaction than when you have done something with getting something in return? This is that release of “happiness brain chemicals.” When you act in a way to help others, it makes you feel good.

It is in our nature to want to go along with things that make us feel happy. Think how fun it is to be in a group situation where everyone wants to do the same thing. The expectation is to go along with whatever the group wants to do. Many find themselves saying yes to things that are out of their element. This is often referred to as peer pressure. It can be a powerful dynamic for the good…or bad.

Let’s face it, “No” stings and hurts. Think back to a time in your childhood when you wanted something, and you got the big “N-O” word. If you are like me, the words N-O echoed in your eyes and vibrated down to your sinking heart with a slight tinge of pain in your stomach. You may have felt devious enough if the something you wanted was big enough or had substantial pull for friend power, prestige or coolness factor that you planned a way to get it without them knowing. The N-O means NO word has a lasting effect that many do not want to project onto other people. We prefer to avoid these feelings for ourselves and others. So, a yes mentality prevails for most people as we could have developed an oversensitivity to what an N-O NO stance/mentality means to us socially. The person may compromise values and healthy boundaries. Going along with a yes mentality can harm your mental well-being, leaving you conflicted with your values and even in danger of getting you in legal trouble when it comes to sharing prescription medications.

But…. Saying No Has Its Perks

Establishes Your Inner Value Compass

When you have strong values, it can feed into your identity and leave you in charge of your life outcome. It will command a level of respect from people if you set clear values with boundaries around them. The key here is to know your boundaries and be consistently firm with them.

Establish your own art of conveying those boundaries with a style that gets the point across. If someone asks you to cross that boundary, they know what the answer will always be… NO!

For example, you can be direct and courteous with a request to share your prescription medication when someone asks you.

You can say, “I am not allowed to share my medication, but I can help you get in touch with my physician if you are struggling.” A referral does not guarantee that someone will be diagnosed with ADHD or prescribed a stimulant medication, but it can steer the conversation in a better direction. Ultimately, only a doctor can make those determinations.

Another option is

“I hope this doesn’t offend you, but as a rule, I do not share my medications.”

Both of the statements are examples of how you can acknowledge their situation while establishing a boundary to protect your values. Establishing a clear value message with the person asking you to do something illegal will curtail any chance of them coming back to you in the future. In my article, Selling or Sharing Your ADHD Meds I share a story of how a student shared prescription medication to help a friend study for an exam that mushroomed into a drug raid in his college dorm.

It is not easy to be a NO person…. But the benefits of defining your boundaries and values are worth it!

Look at the true cost of saying yes to giving or selling your prescription medication. The potential cost is not worth it.  Give yourself the motivation to set ways to say NO to your friends who want your prescription medications. So, here are a few more tips.

A friend may say, “C’mon man, IT IS ONLY 1 pill.” You know the true cost of that pill can get you into a whole lot of legal trouble.[1]

Find your voice by saying,

“Let Me Hook You Up……”

Your reply should include a strong stance that means No. Say, “I don’t share my medications.” You can then follow up with an alternative for the person. “But, let me hook you up with my awesome psychiatrist if you are struggling.”


“My psychologist is a great resource, if you are struggling, though; I will hook you up and text them to you.”

It is important not to apologize about your stance. Just simply state it and the more you practice saying it, the less emotion you will have in your voice. Remember that your self-worth does not hinge on being a yes person, in fact, quite the opposite. Knowing your values and establishing your boundaries will promote your self-worth and show personal responsibility and maturity.

Here is another resource for developing powerful ways to help you, say NO.  Pick a few that work for you and practice them, so you own it and feel confident to say them when asked.

  • “You are putting me in a really awkward situation. I don’t appreciate that.”
  • “Wow. I’m surprised you would ask to use one of my pills.”
  • “If I give you one of mine I will run out before I go to the doctor again.”
  • “My parents count my pills. They will know if I’m missing one.”
  • “I’m only given a few at a time by my doctor. She will know if any are missing.”
Or, you can simply be straightforward in saying no.
  • “No”
  • “Seriously? No.”
  • “Let me think about that for a minute…no.”
  • “Um… no”
  • “Nope.”
  • “Not a chance.”
  • “I’m not going to do something that is a federal crime.” 1

Think of your own greater good when confronted with the request to share your prescription medication.  It will send a message that you know who you are, what you value and what boundaries you have set to live your life by. In the end, you will be gaining the respect of your friends and demonstrating that you are a leader and not just a yes person.

Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. She specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD be the best version of themselves in their academic and career journeys.

[1] Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling.

































Selling or Sharing Your ADHD Meds

Selling or Sharing Your ADHD Meds

Consequence of Selling or Sharing Your ADHD Meds
This is a good time to Get Smart!

This post was developed in collaboration with Adlon Therapeutics L.P, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.

“Can you hook me up? I have an exam.”

College students sometimes refer to stimulants misused and abused casually, as if it were completely normal.  There has been a level of acceptance that sharing this type of drug to improve academic success is “Ok.”  In this article, you will hear the high risks at stake – including why misuse is never OK and how it can negatively affect academic, career and life success. A personal story from a college student who would like to warn people of the grave consequences and just how serious it can get is worth reading and sharing.

The pressure is on to do well in school for many students and some are willing to cross the line and look for a little help from friends to get “study drugs.”  A scenario might go like this:  Sarah and Joe, two friends, are studying for a massive exam coming up and one of them happens to have ADHD and a prescription for a stimulant that helps them focus.  It can be an innocent sharing of information at first.   “I forgot to take my meds today and I cannot focus on anything!”  The other student starts to ask questions about how medication helps them and, the next thing you know, he/she asks to try the medication to see if it will help them too.  Though sharing prescription medication may seem like a simple act, it is considered a federal crime. Stimulant medication used to treat ADHD are classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Schedule II controlled substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act. (21 U.S.C. § 812.). Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.[1],[2],[3]

Under the Controlled Substances Act, a person convicted of selling or attempting to sell Schedule II controlled substances near a school, including a college, or other areas where young people may be present faces twice the maximum prison sentence, twice the maximum fine, and twice the term of supervised release. (21 U.S.C. 860.).[4]

Drug trafficking laws often impose mandatory minimum sentences. This means that a person convicted must serve a specified amount of time and cannot be released on parole until that time has passed. If, for example, you are sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking and your state has a three-year mandatory minimum, you cannot be paroled before you finish serving at least three years in prison. If this does not convince you that prescription ADHD medication is something you should keep locked up and not share with anyone, perhaps the following true story will be an eye-opener.

A study published by the Journal of Psychiatry in 2010 found of students prescribed a medication, 35.8% diverted (gave away, sold or traded) a medication at least once in their lifetime. The most commonly diverted medication classes were prescription ADHD stimulants, with a 61.7% diversion rate.[5]

In 2018 Attention Talk Radio Host, Jeff Copper, interviewed a college student who shared his story of sharing and selling his ADHD medications. As a consequence, he spent years tangled up in the legal system.

It all started when a girl asked him to share his prescription stimulant medication to help her study for an exam.  From that moment on, the girl came back for more and more.  It eventually spiraled out of control and news of his willingness to sell his prescription medication spread to another student who was dealing, on a larger scale, a variety of drugs.

When it comes to illegal endeavors, many seemingly “good things” come to a not-so-good ending. This student’s story was no different.   The guy he was selling and trading his entire prescription to became a federal suspect target who got busted on multiple charges of drug trafficking. He struck a deal to lighten his own legal entanglement by becoming an informant.   He was being charged for dealing felony class drugs and agreed to wire and tape himself buying drugs from the college student as part of a plea bargain.  The unsuspecting college student woke up one morning to a life-changing raid happening in his dorm room.  His dorm and life were turned completely upside down as the feds seized everything he owned.  The impact and reality of what he had been doing came to full light with shame, guilt and humongous regret.  The fast money was as over as he explained in detail what happened during the raid:

“They put me in handcuffs, then half of the officers went up to my dorm room and tore it apart – pulled everything out of the cabinets, flipped the bed, and tore a stuffed animal I had to shreds. When the search was finished, they took me to the local station, took my prints, mug shots, and put me in a holding cell.  At that point, I realized this was really real. I’m in big trouble, the likes of which I had never seen in my life.”

In the end, he navigated through the strain it put on his self-esteem, family relationships, education and financial pocketbook with a good lawyer and a lot of personal growth.  It took years to recover from the legal entanglement. During that time, through many hours of self-reflection with counselors and outdoor wilderness therapists’ guidance, he got in touch with how he wanted to live his life in the future. Luckily for him, he has been able to do it without serving jail time.  He came forward to share his story so others may learn from his experience.  Giving away that first pill as a study drug – which he viewed as a seemingly harmless action – led to life-changing events that he could have never imagined. He was looking at two felony counts of trafficking a controlled substance, which carried mandatory minimums of 1 to 7 years in prison each. This meant, if he was convicted of both sentences, he would have been serving a minimum mandatory of 2 to 14 years in prison.

Here is what his takeaway was:

“The biggest lesson I learned right away was just how wrong that lackadaisical attitude toward ADHD medication is – in high school, at college, or at work.”

Unfortunately, this student’s story is not unique. Even when used as prescribed by properly diagnosed patients, prescription stimulants carry risks that must be considered, such as misuse, abuse, and diversion.[6] These risks are a big reason why clinicians are asked to closely monitor their patients. This includes accurate diagnosing, observing for the potential misuse of prescribed stimulants, educating patients about the risks of misuse and diversion, and limiting prescriptions to a 30-day supply.[7],[8]

Currently, strategies and tools for physicians are being developed, aiming to engage patients in the responsible use of their prescribed stimulant medications. Here is a great educational video that shows the potential risk of sharing medication and how it can be avoided with thoughtful choices by Ben, a college student.

For more information on sharing ADHD medications, read my previous blog entitled Sharing ADHD Medication: Should you, or Shouldn’t You? go to:

Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. She specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD be the best version of themselves in their academic and career journeys.


[1] U.S. Food & Drug Administration. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.
[2] Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling.
[3] Drug Enforcement Administration. Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act. Part B — Authority to Control; Standards and Schedules. §812. Schedules of controlled substance.
[4] Drug Enforcement Administration. Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act. Part D — Offenses And Penalties. §860. Distribution or manufacturing in or near schools and colleges.
[5] J Clin Psychiatry (2010) Sharing and selling of prescription medications in a college student sample. NCBI. Retrieved from
[6] NIDA. 2018, June 6. Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts. Retrieved from on 2020, November 6
[7] Bukstein O. (2008). Substance abuse in patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Medscape journal of medicine, 10(1), 24.
[8] Kolar, D., Keller, A., Golfinopoulos, M., Cumyn, L., Syer, C., & Hechtman, L. (2008). Treatment of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 4(2), 389–403.

Sharing ADHD Medications: Should you, or Shouldn’t You?

Sharing ADHD Medications: Should you, or Shouldn’t You?

Sharing ADHD Medications: Should you, or shouldn’t you?

This post was developed in collaboration with Adlon Therapeutics L.P, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.

In a world where peer pressure is a big thing, drugs might seem fun, and curiosity is a significant influencer. Where do you stand in sharing ADHD medications? Do you think it’s OK? Or do you think it is a risk?

As teens and young adults head back to school and interact with other students in one way or another, this is an important topic. After an extended time apart from friends, it may be exciting to reconnect in person or virtually through classes, but it can pose some risk of vulnerability for those with ADHD who have medical prescriptions and pressure from friends to share them.

Parents of ADHD students may have heard of some kids misusing and sharing their medication. It is real, and it is worrisome. ADHD medication sharing and misuse can happen, especially among teenagers and young adults. Misuse includes use of medicine by someone other than who it’s intended for, using prescriptions in ways or amounts other than prescribed, or to get high.

This issue may seem shocking to some parents, but the dangers are there. Being in the know and aware of the possibilities and discussing them with your student can help keep your student from succumbing to a potentially dangerous situation.

There are two types of ADHD medications: stimulant medication and non-stimulant medication. Stimulant medication is the one that is more often misused. There are several ways kids misuse and share medications. Most commonly, misuse of ADHD prescription medications come from the curiosity of a peer who chooses to experiment with the medication.

A physician takes into account many factors when prescribing medication. It is simply not safe or legal for someone to offer their prescription to someone else. Teens and young adults are subject to peers asking them to share or sometimes sell their prescriptions. The significance and consequences can be downplayed within peer groups who just want to “try it.”

Why are teens and young adults with ADHD doing this?

There are some reasons why this happens. The most common thing I hear is that they may want to help a friend get an extra boost in focus and energy to help with their schoolwork. Or they may do so for seemingly harmless fun and peer pressure to use them recreationally.

Sharing or selling pills is a considerable risk. Teens and college students who have not been diagnosed with ADHD sometimes want to try prescription stimulants to improve their grades. However, for those without ADHD, the medication does not increase attention span and can make them stay up all night or increase their heart rate. Some students find these effects desirable and want to continue doing this without understanding the risks.

Prescription stimulants are Schedule II controlled substances and, even when used as prescribed, have risks including severe psychological and physical dependence, substance use disorder, overdose, severe cardiovascular events as well as increased blood pressure and heart rate, and new or worsening mental or psychiatric problems. Misuse of prescription stimulants can increase these risks. In addition, prescription stimulants have common side effects including decreased appetite, insomnia, and nausea.

Given the risks of this alarming concern, there are some ways to help your student prevent this from happening.

1) Keep an open line of communication and discuss the potential of this happening. You might even be surprised at how much they already know about other students who have done this.

2) Help them feel responsible for taking their prescriptions properly. Inform them of the reality that other people misuse, share their medications, and enlighten them of the risks that it may cause them.

3) Set a time to discuss this with their physician. If you observed your child misusing their medication and cannot talk to them about it, having their doctor talk to them is a good idea.

Sharing ADHD medications: Should you, or shouldn’t you? There are NO justifications to making this a good cause. This is not helping anyone out and could potentially cause serious harm.

Young adults with ADHD should not share their medications and those who are not diagnosed with ADHD should not take ADHD medications. Sharing prescription stimulants can cause health problems and/or lead to substance use disorder – and it’s illegal.

You do not want to go down that road!

Here is an excellent relatable video about a high school student, Kyle, who is confronted by a peer about sharing his prescription stimulant medication. Please share it with any student that may face peer pressure with their prescribed medications.

Additional videos and a brief, interactive digital course addressing other important scenarios and topics for managing prescription stimulants are also available at:

Knowledge is power. Just being aware of this pressure can open up a great line of communication with your student as the school year gets started. It can give them time to think through what they would do if confronted by a friend, just as Kyle was in the video I shared.

It can help avoid some real legal problems that come along with sharing medications. I will post a blog about the consequences of sharing medications in another blog.

Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. She specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD be the best version of themselves in their academic and career journeys.

Why do ADHD Brains Crave Sugar?

Why do ADHD Brains Crave Sugar?

Why do ADHD Brains Crave Sugar?

We have all gone after scrumptious confectionaries and delicious chocolates in childhood! Some, or probably, many of us, have carried the urge to gorge on ‘sugary foodstuffs’ into adulthood too! Apart from warning us about the risk of health issues, doctors do not condemn us for possessing ‘a sweet tooth’! In other words, it is a perfectly natural occurrence. Then, why should anyone be surprised that ADHD brains have a  craving for sweets? It is because the craving is excessive in nature.

The ADHD brain asks for sugar all the time!

Does a normally functioning brain require sugar/glucose?

The answer is ‘yes’!

Glucose is the fuel for all your cells to remain active and function well. It is responsible for the activities of two crucial neurotransmitters in your brain. They are dopamine and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals secreted by the brain. They behave as messengers, carrying messages from one nerve to another in diverse regions of the body.

Dopamine and norepinephrine control your cognitive behaviors, moods, emotions, responses to pain, movements and actions, etc.

Dopamine, specifically, is the happy neurotransmitter. It rewards you when you do something well with feeling emotional well. For example, you store the lessons learned from good experiences in your brain, creating a motivation to do it again. It can motivate you to take up greater challenges where you feel the same emotional well-being. Over time, you it can help you learn to make good decisions and even acquire leadership qualities.


As dopamine secretion increases, you experience excitement, joy, exhilaration, etc. This enables sustained motivating behavior. At the same time, nothing goes overboard, because your normally functioning brain keeps everything under control.

How is the ADHD brain different?

Unlike the ADHD individual, neuro-typicals experience a sense of gratification even while completing mundane chores well.  Their brains are not over-aroused. They do not become bored easily. In contrast, the ADHD brain remains unsatisfied and bored with tasks that offer no challenges. The symptoms display themselves easily. Attention wanders. There may be irritation, temper-tantrums, frustration, etc.

These are the signals to indicate that the ADHD brain is in distress. It is demanding glucose to activate dopamine secretion. This is possible when the ADHD patient consumes foods containing carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, cookies, sweets, etc. Carbohydrates convert into glucose rapidly.

The individual experiences suppression of restlessness. If you have noticed, ADHDers can eat continuously, they are not keen to adhere to set mealtimes.

Their brains are eternally seeking stimulation.

Another odd aspect is that ADHD brains become more active towards the evening. This is the time when the individual prefers to engage with social media, play video games or watch television. It does not help that the blue light emanating from these screens make the brain even more alert.

Naturally, the patient finds it difficult to sleep. Waking up early is also a problem. Such irregular patterns in the sleep-wake cycle have adverse effects on the family’s waking and resting hours.

The ADHD brain is continuously striving to self-regulate. Its stimulation needs vary by the neurotransmitter levels within it. Whatever is the case, it struggles to get its response right.

ADHD brains always wants something riskier, faster, funnier, bigger, louder, etc. There is no satisfaction at all!

However, the brain and body can only take so much. Over time, when everything gets to be too much, the sufferer becomes physically and emotionally overwhelmed. This is often seen as the crash.

Research shows that small amounts of sugar can help the ADHD brain function optimally.  The overall goal is to find a balance to help self-regulate this dopamine seeking brain while fueling the energy needed to function optimally.

My suggestion is to keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel cognitively for that given day.  When you have a few days logged, analyze it and see if there is a pattern.

Can you use it to help satiate your sugar craved brain and feel balanced?

Good luck!

If you have questions go to my website and use the ASK Raz! Q&A.  Or follow my I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration. I post almost every day.  There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.





Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here

Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here

Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here: Dr. Lisa

This is the final part of a 4-part story of one very brave and dedicated TBI survivor. While this story concludes here, I can assure you Lisa is not done.  She has more ambition than I have ever seen in a person. She is your comeback kid in spite of so many obstacles placed in front of her over the years.  These stories only scratch at the surface as to the challenges she has faced and endured throughout her life.

She still struggles with executive functions but has a wealth of knowledge and resources to help her navigate them to be successful. She is now Dr. Lisa who can help others with a wide range of mental health issues that are keeping them stuck from living to their fullest potential.  She works with others now using her wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to have profound effects on many lives.

Overcoming, One Day at a Time

I went back to school with the focus of studying how mental health can impact the quality of life for mild to moderate TBI survivors. I listened to fellow TBI survivors discuss their struggles with low self-esteem, depression, and shame as these variables were reported to be the most common among the survivors. Negative encounters with people have turned me into an introvert, my desire to understand what other survivors and I experience has turned me into a researcher.

When I walked on-stage for my doctoral hooding ceremony, as a graduate with high distinction, I thought about all the obstacles, steps, motivation, and my desire to serve other people. School enabled me to mature in ways I could not believe. School was my rehabilitation process. The car accident changed my life no doubt, but school provided me with opportunities to learn.

When people said, “I can’t help you”, school taught me how to look for other resources to try to help myself.

Do not misunderstand, we all need someone, and at times, we need a professional to talk to. I need to give credit to my vocational-rehabilitation counselor because she has put up with a lot from me over the years.  She met me when I slurred my words, could not form sentences easily, and I forgot so many things (even the counselor’s name at times), but the counselor also nudged me even when I wanted to be left alone.

Over the years, she has put me in touch with some great resources such as Michelle who have helped me learn in a face-to-face manner how to deal with things which I struggled and still struggle with. I do not mind sharing that Michelle has been of great help to me when I have needed to process overstimulation and processing issues.

Having someone who understands my challenges and who wants to help instead of belittling, is such a blessing.  One thing among many, which I have learned is, my mind can tell me there is no one who seems to be willing and able to help me, that is just in my head.

Wonderful professionals aside, there must be a willingness, determination, and a desire to change. Some of the greatest help to change comes from within, and through faith in a power greater than myself.  For me, that is God, through the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

I chose to share my story because so many people are stigmatized by circumstances beyond their control and in the end, each of us has a choice on how we deal with the cards life has dealt us.

In my case, when I hit an obstacle, it knocked me down and I had to muster the motivation to get back up and try again. Sometimes, it is people who have endured hardship in life who work the hardest to make meaningful changes in their lives. Did I prove the doubters wrong? I have no idea, and frankly, it does not matter because the biggest doubter was myself. If you would have asked me eleven years ago if I would be where I am today, I would have laughed until my ribs hurt.

Someone was watching out for me, carrying me when there was only one set of footprints, and believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

My life is not a bed of roses and I do struggle, but through all the trials, obstacles, and joys, yes joys, there has been one constant in my life and that is faith. Without faith, I would have died at my kitchen table ten years ago. Without faith, I would not have had the courage to move forward when I kept hitting negativity by others and roadblocks within my own denial. Though there have been many challenges in my life, I count my blessings and realize I would not be where I am today without the love of God and His faith in me, when I had no faith in myself.

Life is still a struggle and though I have initials after my name, I am still disrespected by those who cannot see past the blinders in front of their eyes and only choose to see me as “different”, “awkward”, or “odd”. The shunning, rejection, being passed-over for jobs I am more than qualified for, and the sense of not being good enough to fit in society, some would say it is all in my head, but when the same thing keeps happening and only the location has changed, it gives one pause. The other day, I was talking with a member of law enforcement, having a casual conversation and when he found out I have a doctorate degree, I thought he was going to fall flat to the ground. The look of shock on his face was somewhat funny, but at the same time, it was insulting.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about inequality with most reference to race. Discrimination and presupposition are equal opportunity social bias and injustice perpetrators. People do not ask to be born a certain way, nor do people ask to be injured and disabled.

Learning to accept the difference between who they once were and who they are now is a huge challenge in and of itself. Being discriminated against because someone is different, that’s not only social unjust, it shows a lack of self-respect for the individual(s) who cannot accept difference from their own perspective.

My name is Lisa. I have many flaws and many talents. I am, different. I am, a TBI survivor. I am, TBI Survivor Strong.

Lisa Marie Ansell, EdD, LPC, NCC, CBIS
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Certified Brain Injury Specialist
Adjunct Professor at a Private University

If you missed the previous parts of this story you can find them here:  part 1part 2, part 3.

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