Saturday, October 3, 2009

My kids - Attention Deficit - Addiction - Medication

Geez...last post was August 17?

Time flies whether you're having fun or not :)

I have got soooooooooo much to talk about....I don't even know where to begin....



both of my boys take medication for attention deficit disorder..but my oldest son, who is now 17, recently went to a new dr. this dr is to help him 'transition into adulthood'...understand their medications and take responsibility for them. (I'm trying to get him to do this with asthma medication too....he'll be living away from home next year!).

so the first time he saw this new dr. was just over a month ago when I was out of town.

when i returned home, his little container with daily doses of medication was sitting where i left it...and full of his meds.

he said "my new doctor told me I didn't have to"

i was pissed.
also....he said, he was supposed to go back the following day (a week after his first visit).

his first visit cost $200!
the second would be another $200!
in one week!
plus my OTHER son had an appointment with HIS dr (at the same place)..and THAT would be another $200.

I told him to come home after school...he wouldn't be going to that appt.

so i called her...she said that HE said that he wasn't taking it EVERY day anyway.

-true...during the summer we are not as organized as we are during the school year...not much of a routine around here....and he sleeps at friends' houses often...or wakes up after I'm gone to he misses it...but once SCHOOL starts and we are back in our daily routine (he met with her just after school began...after a long period of non-consistency).

so she said that it's important for him to BELIEVE thta he NEEDS his medicine (which he does not...and he hates to take it....thinks it doesn't 'do anything' anyway). so....she figured...if he didn't take it for a while, he would see a his grades, in his relationships, etc. and then would be WILLING to get back on it (and know that he needed it).

-well...that's a nice idea...and I've done it half a dozen times since he's been in the 2nd grade (because we have fought that battle all of this time)...but I KNOW what will happen....and this is his SENIOR year...and he cannot AFFORD to do this....grades, etc.

I was pissed.

I told her that I would send my son back...because he LIKED her (not something he's ever said about other docs)....but not now.....I'd call soon.

So I sat down with him and told him some of the things that he should 'watch' for...and if these things became problems he needed to understand that medication (or lack of) was responsible...
things like...forgetting things...
organization might be worse...
ability to pay attention...
he might be more irritable...not get along with his girlfriend...

--he is rolling his eyes the entire time I am talking...and when I mention irritability, he snaps at me "I am NOT gonna take medicine so that my relationships are better! that's ridiculous!"

then....on occasion....when I would see things...or think about things that might be medication related, I'd mention it.

and he'd ignore me :)

one morning as I was driving to suddenly occured to me that the new dr. OBVIOUSLY did not check with the old dr. because the old dr. would have a FIT if he knew this kid was DRIVING without his meds....

made a mental note to mention that to him.

but a few hours later I got a call that he rear-ended someone.


"but it has NOTHING to do with medicine Mom!"


he texted me from school yesterday morning...stating that he is REALLY having trouble at school due to not taking his meds....also...he is 'pissed off' all the time....and he was having a rough day and knew that he was going to end up getting into trouble if he didn't go home....could he leave if he promised to start taking his medication again?


his younger brother has been having problems as well....he's had a few incidents at school....he is unable to control his anger...and he was having an incident yesterday morning too.....

and I'm sure I blogged last year when my husband and I went to Idaho and I forgot my meds at home...after two days I was getting MEAN.
nothing was wrong....I was happy....doing 'fun' things...with good friends...and my husband...I wasn't MAD about anything or AT anyone...but I was feeling MEAN.
I KNEW it was because I didn't have my medication....I knew there was nothing to be mad about....I knew it was chemical...but that did not change the way I felt...there was nothing I could DO about it.

so without my meds, I'm mean......oldest son maybe younger sons meds need to be adjusted (that appt has been scheduled....but the evidence was building in MY mind that that is the problem).

anyway...because of younger sons' recent an effort to try to help my (normal) husband understand this....I sent him an email that used a few quotes from Dr. Wetsman's book Q&A about addiction.

my boys are not addicts.
or at least...they are not addicted to a drug (or behavior) just yet....

but ALL OF related.....

so when both boys got home, I decided to read this to them (they are rolling their eyes...this is about addiction...not A.D.D).

here's what I shared with them:

“For normal people, normal levels of dopamine release provide normal levels of pleasure and reward. But some people don’t have normal levels of dopamine and so normal activities don’t lead to normal reward. They need bigger stimulation to feel what other people feel normally.”

“So let’s imagine what it would be like without enough dopamine in the system. Little things would not excite us or matter to us. We would have difficulty paying attention and remembering things because those actions require dopamine. Normal pleasures would give us nothing at all, and we’d look around at other people enjoying themselves and wonder what is wrong with us. We’d feel alone and pretty much less than others. Because nothing much was rewarding, there would not be much reason to get up off the sofa. Ife we were born this way, we’d have no way to identify it as an illness because we’ve never known anything else. Just as sight for someone born blind would just be something other people could do, so would enjoying little things be for us. Until of course we found a drug that raised our dopamine and made us feel pretty good. With the higher dopamine level we could feel comfortable and relaxed. We could enjoy little things; we could feel a part of the world. It would be like a congenitally blind person suddenly able to see. What percentage of them do you think would be satisfied with their new found sight going away after a few minutes and then being told they could never have it again? Well, that’s about the percentage of addicts who would be satisfied to just stop using and go back to the way they’ve felt all their lives.”

“Addiction isn’t using drugs; it’s what it feels like to the addict to live without using drugs. The symptoms are what people with addiction feel when they aren’t using, not what happens when they do.”

He is talking about the fact that all humans make less dopamine as they age (which is why we have grumpy old men)….it also means…that addiction gets worse with time…

“You’re probably thinking this is hopeless, aren’t you?”

“I don’t think it is. We know we can raise dopamine receptor levels by changing behavior and thinking (as in recovery), and we can raise levels of dopamine and serotonin with medications.”

While I am reading this, my oldest son is sitting...wide-eyed "WOW" he said.

"that is my life."

Yesterday was a tough day at my house....younger son got into some trouble...he is just unable to control his anger (impulse control).....but it was a blessing really....this is important.....and maybe understanding what addiction is...and how their brains way I would have gotten both of them to listen....ANY other way.

Maybe....if I knew all of this about my brain..and how addiction works....when I began gambling I would think "'s pretty scary what that does to me"....and I would have been careful...instead of this thing just slowly taking hold without my even knowing.

"I know..." I said to him... then I said...."you haven't been taking your meds and you are pissed off all of the time" then I told them my Idaho story (which ended with me calling a girlfriend...who came to my house and found my meds and overnighted them to me).... so I say to my younger son "so I am trying to get the doctor to see us TODAY....I think we have got to assume that your medication needs to be looked at."

"ummmm.....I haven't been taking my medicine for over a month."


"I didn't think it was doing anything!!!!"


Yeah...yesterday was a hard day.
But it's also possible that yesterday saved their lives.
or at them a fighting chance at overcoming addiction.....without going thru the hell of 'hitting bottom'.


Michelle Tee said...

The dopamine theory is so true. It is hard to stop gambling, when we use it as a way to feel pleasure and increase these levels in our brain.

N-acetyl cysteine is supposed to help. I am trying it. :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see a post, welcome back.

Best wishes getting thru to the kids. Sounds positive.

Bob S'toon