Breaking Bored

Three Molecules

I will not be lectured on chemistry by somebody who doesn’t know the difference between an atom and a molecule!

The structure on the left is methamphetamine, more popularly known as crystal meth. The meth part of the name is shortened from methyl, which in chemistry-speak is a carbon atom with three hydrogen atoms bonded to it. That’s the extra group of atoms bonded to the nitrogen (N) atom. The molecule on the right is dextroamphetamine, and it is one of the active ingredients in Adderall. So, despite the atoms/molecules confusion, am I admitting that this meme is correct?

Perhaps the meme is correct at face value, but not in intent. Crystal meth is an illegal drug that is often manufactured in homemade laboratories by people with a limited knowledge of chemical safety. Meth generally contains impurities that make it more dangerous. Since meth is illegal in most jurisdictions, there aren’t any third-party agencies available to assay the purity of crystal meth before it’s sold on the street.

Adderall is a mixture of amphetamine salts, all of which are stimulants. It is prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) because it stimulates the part of the brain that helps a person focus. Adderall is also prescribed for people who suffer from narcolepsy. The major difference between Adderall and crystal meth is that the former is produced in a facility with much higher standards of safety and quality control.

Make no mistake: Adderall is a drug, and all drugs have side effects, some of which are really harmful. Before you send me a long list of people whose lives were shattered by taking Adderall, please understand this: I acknowledge the potential for danger. I actually agree with the part of the meme that says “Think before you drug your children”. Parents should inform themselves about anything they give their children. Taking Adderall or any other drug aimed at ADHD could potentially cause a major change in a child’s personal and academic life. It’s not a decision one makes lightly. If a parent is unwilling or unable to think critically about his child’s medical future, then he is unfit to administer aspirin, much less Adderall.

The meme doesn’t suggest any alternatives to Adderall for control of ADHD. Although the memer doesn’t explicitly say so, I have to believe that he or she falls into one of two camps:

  • People who believe that so-called ADHD is a symptom of a parenting failure. These people think that children with “ADHD” simply need stricter discipline.
  • People who believe that ADHD can be treated with untested home-brewed remedies and who are inherently distrustful of anything produced by the medical establishment (Big Pharma).

We may never know to which unsupported conclusion the creator of this meme subscribes, but neither is particularly helpful to the parent of a child who struggles with ADHD. Parents, make responsible decisions based on scientific evidence, common sense, and caution – not paranoia and denialism.

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One thought on “Breaking Bored

  1. And the DSM-5 blurs and further obscures what “ADHD” (“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”) and is as definitive as “PTSD” (“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”) is, itself comparable in precision as “neurosis” was in the 1960s.

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