At the end of last week, we heard news that is all too common in recent times. An armed teenager went to his school and assassinated ten of his fellow classmates. Were this the end of the story, we would mourn with you, but we’d have reserved comment. We focus on helping adults with ADHD lead successful, happy lives. But our efforts include standing with our tribe when we’re under attack. We’re not Marines, but we know it’s the right thing to do.
Incoming chair of the National Rifle Association, Oliver North, commented on school shootings. He stated, “Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.” Hearing him malign Ritalin, and by extension ADHD, got us riled. We must respond. With no basis in fact, his comment is an obvious attempt to deflect blame from his organization. His comments are not meaningless.
The truth about ADHD medicines is that they help those who need them. Ritalin and other stimulants help people focus and organize their thoughts. They are essential for us to cope… at school, in social situations, when driving, at work, and a hundred other scenarios we encounter every day. To be clear, ADDA is not “pro meds”. We recommend working with trained mental health professionals. Together, you will determine if medication is a good part of your ADHD treatment plan.
Mr. North’s comment panders to people who stigmatize ADHD. Many see taking medications for mental health as weak. All while promoting medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol and other medical conditions. This is a stigma those of us with ADHD feel daily. Blaming teenagers and their Ritalin for these atrocities is a direct attack on the ADHD community.
Mental health is a serious issue. Millions of people suffer needlessly the stigma of ADHD and other mental health issues. For the NRA to be adding to the stigma people with ADHD suffer with no proof whatsoever is shameful. They have no proof for their finger-pointing. Ritalin is a valid, research-supported part of a full treatment plan families create with a medical professional.
-Duane Gordon, ADDA President
We have no theories on the reasons for these massacres. But, we can say treating ADHD leads to a better quality of life and fewer behavioral challenges. Sadly, many people go without treatment due to rising costs and insurance cutbacks. Yes, we need to look at many of the issues surrounding recent events. But blaming ADHD medications that help those who have them prescribed does not help. To suggest that Ritalin was a contributing factor is irresponsible and reprehensible.
ADDA takes pride in staying out of the political arena. But we know quality mental health care is life-changing. For some, that mental health care includes medication. ADHD is not trivial. It is not made up. Help us fight the stigma millions of people with ADHD, people like you, feel every day.
Share this article with your friends and family. Support those who believe everyone has a right to quality mental health care. And support ADDA by becoming a member if you are not already.
Keith Griffin is a member of the ADDA Board of Directors, an ADHD Coach, and host of the Podcast This ADHD Life. You can find out more about Keith through his website, thisadhdlife.com. You may also view his personal response on YouTube.