Why Young Adults Can’t Get Off ADHD Drugs

Annie Holmquist | October 19, 2016 | 1,658

Why Young Adults Can’t Get Off ADHD Drugs

“Millennials are so hard to work with.”


That statement was recently made by an older relative of mine, and while I myself can be classified as a millennial, I have to admit that such a characterization is probably all too true of my generation.


But as a recent article from Quartz explains, the millennial generation has another nickname: “Generation Adderall.” Such a name references the fact that many millennials were diagnosed with ADHD during their childhood years, and were then placed on drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin in order to control their behavior and help them focus on the tasks at hand.


But what seemed like a quick fix for busy parents and teachers with energetic kids has now become a serious problem. Many of those children are now having trouble functioning without it as young adults in college and the workplace.


Commenting on this epidemic, a young Adderall user named Raphael told Quartz:


“I think the blame is a little backwards there,” Raphael says. “You can’t prescribe a whole generations of kids drugs, tell them to ‘be the best you can be,’ and then when they go take the drugs, turn around and accuse them of cheating and call them ‘Generation Adderall.’”


The Quartz article goes on to declare:


Judgment is often misdirected at young adult users themselves instead of at the doctors and pharmaceutical companies who perpetuate the trend.


Such statements could be perceived by many to be the normal, blame-shifting behavior for which millennials are known. But does Raphael actually make a decent point?


Think about it for a moment. Unlike the generations preceding them, millennials were largely raised in families where both parents worked or were divorced. As such, many of them didn’t experience the kind of stable home environment more common in the past.  


The millennials were also raised in a time which sought to promote a child’s self-esteem above all else. Because of this, they were often not raised to respect their authorities, nor were they exposed to discipline or consequences for poor behavior.


Earlier this year, the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology released a study which found that parents who actually spent time and trained their children in appropriate behavior were able to keep their children off ADHD drugs. If such is the case, is it possible that more millennials could have stayed off ADHD drugs if the adults in their lives (parents, teachers, doctors, and the like) had simply spent more time training them to be reasonable and responsible individuals?