Lack of motivation after using stimulant meds

Every day that my son takes Ritalin it kills me as I just can’t get it out of my head that medications are all toxic.

My wife always says that pharmaceuticals are just poisons with some beneficial side-effects (she used to run clinical trials for 10 yrs)

With that in mind, I have seen some conflicting research that has said long-term use of stimulants can cause damage to the brain of a child. This particularly affects the area of the brain that controls motivation, which results in an adult that is unmotivated to do much.

Des anyone have any additional resources to study this as almost everything I see says stimulants are healthy and with minimal side-effects. My intuition tells me there has to be a compromise as the brain’s chemistry is literally being altered on a daily basis.

I might be in the minority here but I don’t believe in medication unless absolutely necessary until the brain is ‘solidified’ somewhere in the mid 20’s. Pills don’t teach skills and in the zombie apocalypse there won’t be pills so how will we all cope?

If my square brain is being mashed into a round hole why is the answer to keep forcing it instead of finding a square hole that might fit it better?

Behavioral therapy has to be the cornerstone of childhood treatment. Therapy taken with parents or caregivers too so you all can learn how to cope.

Pharmaceuticals are life savers but they are not pinpoint precision, they can be rather hammer like. We don’t have a fine enough understanding of our systems to switch just a single thing on or off without mashing a couple other buttons. We know this and for lots of things we know the side effects and the doctors decide that it’s a fair trade. Sometimes they don’t really let us make the decision, because we are scared or because they don’t think we can understand.

Even if they roll their eyes at you, keep asking questions. Make them get you comfortable with whatever the treatment is.

We tried talk therapy, behavior therapy, occupational therapy and numerous accommodations at school.

None of them worked as his brain was not able to process the info, with meds he is not a different child in any way. He takes stimulants which makes him calm, in touch with his emotions, engaged, has impulse control, way less frustration and able to focus on what is being said.

There is no doctor that forces me into any decision, I hate drugs. I don’t trust doctors and my wife worked in clinical trials for 10 years. Pharma is toxic, however, there are benefits in some cases.

The final straw for us was when my son decided, due to lack of impulse control, threw a macbook on the ground at school. Since he has been on meds, he is like a model child, his grades have improved, he is advocating for himself, he asks for support when he is struggling, he is waaaaaay more focused, has no issues with impulse control and is thriving.

This change happened within 45 minutes of taking his meds for the first time and has been a life-changer.

Yes, the thing is… the behavioral therapy, something that needs to be continued long term is what will help him cope, eventually, when he’s not on the meds. So that it will not be a Jekyll and Hyde situation, eventually.


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Has your son expressed anything concerning, like that the meds make him feel like a zombie or like he’s not himself?

From your description of the effects, it seems like they are having an almost ideal effect.

I agree with what @Mabd said, that behavioral therapy will be best for the long term. There are many people who are diagnosed as ADHD as children who experience an improvement in symptoms by the time they reach adulthood. I don’t believe that ADHD could ever go away, but for some, it can improve to the point that by their mid-20’s they might not meet enough criteria for a diagnosis (i.e. sub-clinical ADHD).

Children’s brains are much more malleable than adult brains are, but then again, genes play a big role in development, too. It’s like a tug-of-war between nature and nurture. It’s up to parents to practice good intent in aiding and encouraging their children’s development, with the help available, but ultimately it’s up to the individuals (the children) to become who they will be. I believe that each person has the capacity for good and bad development inherently, and that ADHD is an augmenting factor.

It’s good that your wife has had that experience of running clinical trials. Most of us don’t have that, and have to choose what information to trust based on what we are told and what we find. You still have to weigh the pros and cons, not just now, but time and time again, whether it’s best to have your son on medication (and which one at the time), in partnership with his doctor.

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@gorilla if you could point out where to find that conflicting research you mentioned, I’d like to check it out myself. Mainly the reporting I’ve found about the negatives of stimulant medication was when neurotypical people are taking it to get high or for a competitive edge.

I know that extremely high doses of atomoxetine (Strattera) can cause cellular damage or even cellular death in laboratory settings, but the prescription amounts aren’t nearly that high. But then again, even extremely high doses of water or nutrients for cells can cause cellular damage or death.

As far as the “lack of motivation” goes, I know that people with ADHD need increases in dopamine (or noradrenaline)or to be on a medication which helps delay dopamine reuptake (or noradrenaline reuptake).
I’m aware of at least a couple of conditions that is caused by persistent elevated dopamine levels. One is drug addiction (notably cocaine, in the report that I heard), and the other is an intense romantic infatuation known as “limerence”. There’s such a strong dopamine-fueled obsession with a substance or a romantic interest, that there’s no motivation left for anything else besides basic needs.