Medication Mancala

Today I was prescribed Adderall in the manner you might hand someone Advil. It was an absolutely bizarre experience, as Adderall is something I have been asking doctors to allow me to try for some time, to no avail. I guess it’s no more the job of the doctor to know the literature supporting a correlation between untreated ADHD and drug addiction as it was my job to know myself enough not to engage in non-regimented drug intake. Regardless, having struggled myself into sobriety, the potent amphetamine medication was handed over to me with few more than five sentences – almost none of which were questions about my history of use.

The message behind this seems clear, put yourself together and we will support you with the tools at our disposal, come in depressed, anxious, and addicted, and you will leave the same way, perhaps with the addition of a mind-numbing SSRI that will no more help you get a hold on your life than smoking weed will.

It is now my duty to manage this privilege of power – the trust bestowed upon me – so as not to revert back to the confused and frustrated state in which support is hard to find.

To achieve this, I think I will get one of those days-of-the-week pill organizers intended for the overmedicated oldies; play some medication mancala. My dose is low, only 10mg, so there will be days on which I want to double up. I don’t need to dose on workdays, as stock work already requires a laughable level of engagement from my mind. Pills from these days can be carried into the week to bolster heavy workload days, so long as I stay mindful of ‘spending’ saved days as opposed to ‘indebting’ myself against the upcoming week.

Perhaps a curious outlook I have on receiving the prescription is that I finally feel as though I’m on a level playing field. I remember overhearing a group last year before walking into a final. The word ‘Adderall’ caught my attention and the next thing I heard was “Does anyone have any more notes?” Sniiffff – laughter. It was a disheartening and revealing experience. The abuse of medication is common social currency. Who doesn’t know people using it? And yes, I acknowledge the hypocrisy of my outrage; here’s my proposal.

Taking Adderall should not be a doctor’s decision, it should be adopted as an opt-in/opt-out component of university life. In September, along with the dental plan and medical insurance pestering, there should be presented the simple option: Would you like to try using Adderall during your studies? Here are the benefits and side effects; take it at your own discretion (like all the other drugs you’ll encounter at university – you’re an adult, do what’s good for you).

The standing system, although veiled by regulation, does not, in practice, seem altogether different from this implementation, it merely encourages doctor shopping and the sourcing of ‘Adderall Doctors’, who will dispense, as mine did, without careful consideration. In truth, these doctors seem to see it the way I do: the medication helps people with school, you are a student, if you think the help would benefit you, here, have the help.

Furthermore, it seems a strategy that supports self-accountability and discipline, traits surely acknowledged as part of the skills learned at, and necessary for, university. If you abuse the privilege and university becomes unmanageable, you lose your access. However, everyone enrolled participates in the same, honest, academic arena. The system is understandably not without downsides, but it seems to alleviate the problem of disempowering committed students unwilling to doctor shop. And would we rather have policies that attempt to protect degenerates from themselves or that propel successful students to greater accomplishment? I think the latter. I’ve been the degenerate, it doesn’t hinge on Adderall control, it is a path forever available, and relinquishing the quality relies entirely on self-imposed will, not law. It’s time to let the path of empowerment be of equal access.

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