ADHD Medication – Safe Storage 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.
Who is ready for our students to get back to a normal academic and social life?
The pandemic has brought us closer as a family so much that I am NOT feeling a huge need to take our annual family vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my family and making memories together. Still, after over a year of eating, breathing, and working together, we have had a lot of time to get really close and make memories! My overtired and somewhat irritable mind is fantasizing about me, alone, at a resort that serves my favorite food and drinks while cleaning up after MY messes!
As a parent of a soon-to-be college student, I struggle with the mix of my lingering unabashed mother patrol. My intentions are purely to install good work and cleanliness values, but they are often in conflict with the desire for me to “let go.”
Some of the joys of trying life out on their own have been delayed. They are over-eager to get back to what they envision life to be like for them. For my daughter, it is an independent young adult ready to take the world on and prove that my over-bearing parenting worries are all false. I am feeling the time has come to let her try it out.
I am ready for this new chapter too. I can envision myself sipping fresh fruit drinks at the pool as my young adult happily departs home to chart her own course in life. But I have that deep feeling in my gut to give just a little more parenting around how to manage life responsibly.
Some may say I am overreacting. When ADHD runs in your family the way it does in mine, this is not going overboard. You get used to a predictably unpredictable life of happenings due to a family history of impulsive decision making. This is when I think of an exit plan just in case, I have to dash back from my dreamy solo vacation to intervene. Or at least have a solid phone connection. Those without an impulsive streak in their genetics would think that my thought patterns were absurd and co-dependent but believe me….I do not seek any pleasure in this!
So, how does one help their exuberant college student who cannot wait to escape the shackles of parental oversight help them enjoy the new freedom while using good decision-making choices?
In a perfect world, I see this transition to take responsibility for their life as a right of passage with me waving good-bye with joyful tears in my eyes.
Then I get a second vision where the joyful tears turn to joy FEAR tears.
I read books about the desire for a child to exert self-management skills as early as 3 years old when they say “NO! I do it myself!” This was cute back then, and I remember chuckling and marveling at the fact that my daughter “COULD” dress, brush her own teeth and buckle herself in the car seat. The outcome was not perfect, and I often jumped in candidly to assist, hoping she didn’t notice my takeover.
Now, at 18, she is really ready to exert freedom and self-management skills as an adult. I have to face the reality of my inability to fix things. I had to let go and hope that the years of parenting had some effect on developing a capable young adult who could make good decisions.
This is a mild concern for the neuro-typical kid as I have witnessed from being around moms throughout the years. For the student with ADHD, the only way I can think to describe it is using this metaphor:
Freedom is a dog without a leash
Think of a dog who is always leashed up. The owner can quickly correct the behavior by redirecting them. They are picture-perfect while walking with their owner. People may even comment on what a well-behaved dog you have trained. You take great pride in those comments, yet secretly you know if they were off the leash, the people would be running away from you, fearing for their lives. Not that your dog is mean or vicious. It just has an exuberant amount of energy and loves to interact with people. This leads to them forgetting the social norms you taught them about not getting in peoples’ faces, where and when to do their business, what they can run after and what to leave behind.
Basically, they forget all the rules you taught them in a flash of a second.
This is how I felt the day I dropped off my daughter to the dorms of her freshman year of college.
She was like a dog off her leash for the first time – despite all the trial runs we had practiced for years in advance. I just had the feeling her impulsive behavior would take over!
The fear was deep-rooted in many stories over the years. One of my concerns was her medication and the unbridled opportunity for misuse. I was hoping she had learned a lesson about the dangers of medicines from an incident back when she was 10 years old and was exerting independence and self-management.
I had to learn the hard way about safe storage of ANY type of medication. That toddler who said, “mommy, I do it myself,” continued to develop her independence skills year after year. The problem was, she didn’t always think through the outcome of her actions or consider all the factors it takes to make decisions.
She was competent, and that was the problem.
She had so much confidence in her ability to make decisions, nothing was off-limits.
I used to say she would do EVERYTHING once.
She learned from her mistakes experientially and did not have the type of wiring to think abstractly through her actions. This kept me on my toes as a parent for the most part. I had a real awakening the day the first time I left her alone. I took a quick 15-minute trip to fetch her younger sister from a dance class while she was watching her favorite show.
What could go wrong?
Well, I found out after interrogating her for hours after the incident what went wrong. The fast-acting and impulsive mind took over. Within minutes of me being gone, she noticed that she had a headache. She went to my medicine cabinet and found my aspirin. She never read the label, but decided she needed a few since her headache was bad. She logically followed the routine I did when she was not well. The problem was that she wasn’t using children’s medicine, instead, she grabbed my adult extra strength. I had no idea exactly how many she took because she became so frightened by my actions of calling poison control. I feared she took more than “a few” because the headache wasn’t going away. After watching every breath for the next few hours, I realized that she was fine, luckily. I still get that panicky feeling today reminiscing about that incident.
Adding to what some may call loosely parent PTSD is another incident to set the stage for my fears that day.
The very day she got her driver’s license, she immediately backed into a person behind her at the gas station because they had blocked her in. Yes, she did driver’s safety, driver education, practiced, practiced and practiced. But somehow, we missed that if you get blocked in at the gas station, don’t try to get out of the lineup; even if you are going to be late. Like I said, I had come to terms that she was the one that would do everything once!
It was exhausting as a parent.
I was SOOOO looking forward to the day she was 18 and going to college and yet had that visualization of the dog at the park off-leash for the first time!
Now off to college with her prescription medication in hand. I had a whole new worry.
How would I guide her on her own to navigate these things with the same level of vigilance I gave it?
I thought I had to create a sense of value for her medication safety the way she values her money stashes and cell phone. I approached the subject with a prelude of all valuable things to her: her cell phone, debit cards, computer. Would she allow a friend to borrow any of these things? We ran down the reasons she did not want to “loan out” her items and how to keep the things safe when she couldn’t carry them with her. We had good traction and then came my interjection of how she valued her medication. Surprisingly, it went well! The timing was good and I had segued into this topic smoothly: a win.
We even laughed about her headache story and how scary it was for me and how she would not want to experience that as an adult. So, I felt the timing was right and asked if she could see her medication as valuable and sacred to keep it safe with the other things. We found humor as we talked through the seriousness of her prescription medication. We used a creative analogy of how wonderful it would be to develop a Pez candy dispenser for her medication that had a code she only knew. We came up with a more realistic plan to buy a safe to keep in her room where she could keep all her things secure.
This empowered her to start her true “adulting” behavior. What followed was a conversation that led to a review of tips for keeping her medication safe.
Here are the points we talked about to be an enlightened medical consumer and be “SPAFE” (slang for Especially safe)
Create a daily ritual build the habit –more likely to follow through
Feeling a “laze-day?” DON’T Just snap the cap and play it safe
Spin the dial Lock it up in the SPAFE place
When it goes south In the unfortunate event the SPAFE place was violated.
Know the count: If you have a plan with your daily pills, this should be easy
Brave the ask While hard to confront, ask if you suspect someone did it.
It took quite a bit of energy to create a situation for a conversation like this to happen without the typical family triggers. The effort was well worth it to help ease my fears of the dog off the leash scenario happening given her past history.
Creating a relatable situation that she could truly identify with set the groundwork for this to be successful. My tip for you beyond the ones above is this: Find that sacred thing your son or daughter values so much that they put as their highest priority in any given moment. Use it in developing a strong analogy that will truly stick with them well after you leave them on their own.
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.
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. 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.,Misusing prescription drugs is when a medication is not used the way it is intended by the prescribing doctor.  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)
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.
Leaving unused and expired prescription medications should be avoided. You may consult with doctors for the proper way of disposing of unused medications.
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?
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.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD medications are effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD in the majority of children as well as adults. Medical research shows that medication is the preferred treatment for ADHD. If you are like I was when they were prescribed at first, I blindly gave them to my daughter without really understanding what they were doing for her. Fast forward to today and I am now an informed educator and coach and want to pass off some information to help you understand a little bit about the meds that are being recommended for you or your child and see what do they do and how they work.
The Impacted Areas
ADHD mainly affects the parts of the neurological system, which is the brain and nervous system, in terms of transmitting electrical signals or stimuli. The process of parts of the brain communicating with each other is known as neurotransmission.
It makes it difficult to concentrate and focus. Other major symptoms widely observed are inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, anxiety, depression, tics, personality disorders, bipolar disorders, OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, restlessness, and short-tempered. These are commonly treated with medications such as stimulantsalong with behavior therapy.
How Do the Medications Target Impacted Areas
The medications widely being used for treating both children and adults suffering from symptoms of ADHD fall under the category of Stimulants. These stimulants function by boosting the levels of two main neurotransmitters in the brain, namely, Norepinephrineand Dopamine. The former is responsible for attention, attentiveness, concentration and focus whereas the latter controls attention and memory.
ADHD medication drugs increase or decrease the release of these chemicals in the brain to bring them to a normal state. When that happens, the synapse between neurons can hold an accurate amount of neurotransmitter for sending and receiving of neuro-signals. So, the metabolic activity increases in certain areas of the brain, aiding communication with elevated neurotransmitter levels and resulting in better functioning during cognitive tasks.
Different Doses, Varied Effects
When taken in small dosages, the body reacts to these stimulants in the same way that it does when the brain naturally produces dopamine and norepinephrine. The energy levels rise, alertness increases and so do concentration, attention, and focus. Different kinds of stimulants are available in the market. These are categorized based upon their ability to produce results within a certain frame of time. The categories are as follows:
The short-acting stimulants produce short term results. They have to be taken twice or three times a day. That implies that the patient has control over the intake of medication in his or her system. However, it is often noticed that patients tend to be forgetful about their medications and doses. It is no surprise that long-acting stimulants are widely preferred for patients suffering from ADHD with the reason being only a single tablet per day and the results lasting from 8 to 12 hours are more manageable.
However, higher dosages of the stimulants can affect adversely and result in impaired attention, obsessive-compulsive disorders, heart disorders.
It is noteworthy that the stimulants, non-stimulants, antidepressants, and behavior or other therapies do not cure ADHD. They result in an enhancement in the condition by increasing or decreasing the symptoms based on the need of the patient and help make it more manageable on a day to day basis. Proper and regular doses along with cognitive behavioral therapy and coaching have been reported to help with near to normal cognitive functioning.
This is just the surface level of information. Each person has a different way their body absorbs the medication and they effective can vary. More medications are coming available to compensate for various patient needs. The best point of contact to discuss these options is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of ADHD. I believe more research is needed to better understand the effects in adults coupled with external structures to help cope with the challenges ADHD brings to your life. For now, it is a trial and error testing period to see what the right combination, dosage, and external structures help you manage your unique challenges. But, keep looking and reading as knowledge is power and you can find ways that other people are managing their ADHD which can spur some ideas for yourself. As one doctor said in a podcast recently, ADHD is the best disorder that you can have as it is so treatable.
Michelle Raz specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.
Yes and No. Not all ADHD medications are stimulants, but the vast majority of prescriptions are for stimulants.
So, let’s dig in a bit to understand them.
For most people dealing with ADHD, stimulant medications are effective and safe. Just the way reading glasses help our weak eyes focus better, stimulant medications help people dealing with ADHD focus their thoughts better. They help them in becoming more aware of their surroundings; they make them gain more control and pay attention to things around them. They are prescribed more often than non-stimulant medications
According to experts, stimulants are best when combined with another form of therapy such as behavioral therapy or coaching. According to researchers and studies conducted, around 80% of the children dealing with ADHD show great improvement when they are given stimulants in the correct dosage. I would predict that adults are similar, but there needs to be more research in this area.
In general, there are two types of stimulants that are used – the short-acting stimulants that are used as an immediate acting medication, and then there is extended-release that is used for long-acting. The first category of medication is usually taken when needed, like for an important event you might be planning when you really need to focus and be on point. Extended medications are taken once a day, usually in the mornings. Some common ones used are Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. Clients that I have worked with say that, when they REMEMBER to take their meds, they can help manage the typical ADHD symptoms, such as impulsive behavior and short attention span allowing them to have a very productive day.
You may be wondering how they work. These medications boost the level of neurotransmitter brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which play a crucial part in one’s ability to be attentive and process information.
In simple words, they help the nerves found in our brain communicate with other nerves. As a result, you are able to focus better.
Just as eyeglass prescriptions are customized to a person’s unique vision problems, medication can be seen as the same. You want to get the correct type and dosage that is best suited for your conditions. Have you ever tried on someone else’s eyeglass prescription and it distorted everything in your view the wrong way? Well, think of having the wrong dosage of medication as a correlation. This is why it is always best to consult with a physician. You need to consider your own circumstances and health needs.
I must caution users to never try a medication from a friend or family member
Over the years, I have heard stories of parents that have used their kid’s prescription to see if it worked for them. This is not safe. Especially, for people with these complexities below, this group is cautioned to not take stimulants and a consult should be the first step.
–Severe anxiety, nervousness, tension or stress
Tourette syndrome, or if it is there in family history
Taking medication known as monoamine oxidase
Psychotic or have a history of psychosis
When you meet with your physician they will discuss some options for you and the side effects that are possible with stimulants such as higher blood pressure, headaches, weight loss, loss of appetite, insomnia, social withdrawal and abnormalities in stomach. These generally go away after a few days, but if they don’t one must consult the doctor. Getting the medication right is an important piece of managing your ADHD. Do not ignore your symptoms and make sure to take note of how you are reacting to the medication plan.
Contrary to belief, sleep-related problems generally do not exist with a long-acting stimulant. I have heard of people who say that when they take their medications consistently it can actually help them have fewer thoughts as they go to bed and help them sleep better. I saw a comment once that said, “If I could actually count the sheep, I could get to sleep!” I think they were referring to the distracting thoughts that were happening while they were trying to focus on counting the sheep!
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind while taking these stimulants –
The medication must always be taken as prescribed. If there are any doubts or questions, one must call the doctor
One should try to stick to a schedule to ensure the medicine is given at the same time every day
If any dose is missed, the next dose should be given at the defined time
Record how your body is reacting to the meds over time and share it with your doctor
I was listening to a podcast recently on the usage of stimulants for treating ADHD and someone had raised a question if these stimulants get someone high or if they are addictive. To this question, the experts replied that when these drugs are taken as directed by the doctors, they do not get people high. They help make people with ADHD feel “normal” where they could hold their thoughts and carry on conversations without being distracted or impulsively blurting out their every thought. Essentially, it helped people with ADHD be more successful in their lives. They went on to state that stimulants used for ADHD have no pieces of evidence that consuming them is habit-forming and nor leads to drug abuse. The reaction in a person with ADHD using a stimulant is the opposite effect of someone without ADHD using the prescription. There is a much higher risk of them ending up in the hands of someone who does not need the medication nor has ADHD and them abusing it. This leads to another focus of safe storage and educating people to never share their medication as I mentioned earlier.
When used appropriately, stimulant medication has changed lives for the better.
So now that you have a little information about stimulants, you can start to look at the types of stimulants that are available to you. There is a lot to learn about medications with more options coming into the market. It can be overwhelming. The best practice is to find a doctor who specializes in ADHD treatment plans and have a consult with them to determine what is the best plan for your unique situation. Be sure to ask what your options are for managing your ADHD given your health history and lifestyle. It makes a difference to the physician prescribing the medication to know which is best for you.
Just as you need to be informed about how the doctor may be able to help you, the doctor needs information about you to best help you.
Michelle Raz specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.