Sunday, November 3, 2013


Although I was diagnosed as having ADD more than ten years ago, I never tried Ritalin or any other ADD medication until recently.  However as a read and learn more about the treatment of ADD I wonder if I've self-medicated for years, or if some unusual reactions to other medications had a lot to do with my ADD.

I have terrible allergies, though they're much better after nearly ten years of allergy shots.  I spent much of my first 10 years sick with some sinus issue or another, and as a result I've taken a LOT of Sudafed over the years.  Over that time I've heard lots of stories about Sudafed making kids hyper or buzzed, but I never experienced that.  Instead I would take Sudafed and almost always fall asleep.  I remember taking it before church and falling asleep in my mom's lap in the pew.  It's a good thing I don't snore!

It's only recently occurred to me that if ADD is treated with stimulants then it's possible that other substances that have a stimulating effect could also be used to calm or focus a person with ADD.  All the books mention self-medication with controlled substances, marijuana and heroin being the most common, but I look back at my history and see another type of self medication.

When I was very young I ate huge quantities of sugar.  This was a most common occurrence on road trips with my family.  We'd head south to visit family and at the first gas station I'd get out and spend every penny I had on various types of candy and consume them in the car.  Halloween candy rarely lasted more than a few days.  We'd go to restaurants and I'd sit quietly and eat sugar packets.  I ate ice cream topped with Nes-Quick (almost pure sugar on top of more sugar).  Seriously, it's a wonder my teeth survived!

With all this sugar consumption you'd think I'd be bouncing off the walls, but when I asked my mom about it she said she never noticed me to be particularly hyper.  I never seemed to have trouble sitting still in restaurants or in the car.  And she said it didn't worry her so long as I ate a variety of healthy REAL food as well.  So what was I doing with all that raw energy?

By the time I was in college I'd replaced sugar with coffee.  I'd go to Waffle House at 1:00 in the morning, drink six cups of coffee, then go back to my dorm and fall right asleep.  At the time I thought I just had THAT much tolerance for caffeine, but looking back now I wonder.