Growing Up: Kate Miller Sheds Her Addiction

AdderallI muse a lot about ADD/ADHD medication. My time teaching in the classroom and working in student life paralleled the 0-100 MPH rise of attention deficit diagnosis and treatment. And, in all of this, I’ve seen way too many easy scripts written and ADD/ADHD prescription pills sold among peers.

I’ve written before that I get ADD/ADHD. But, I continue troubled by how freely families and students seem to come by diagnoses and prescriptions and how freely (and inexpensively) the drugs seem to float about for abuse. Then, there’s the diagnosis and access issue (for those who can afford it).

One thing seems reasonably certain. The drugs improve focus of even non-ADD/ADHD and even good students abuse the these prescriptions to improve their academic performance.


Which brings me to this recommended essay – The Last All-Nighter

Author Kate Miller chronicles circle into and out of Adderall addiction. In many respects, it’s the personal essay that so many colleges ask for as part of a student’s admission package. Only in Miller’s case she was living through the early stages of her Adderall abuse and addiction as she applied to college. She then carried her addiction into early adulthood.

Of detox and treatment Miller writes:

…my body was literally recalibrating itself to function without the stimulant, I felt like my old self again — relaxed, yet motivated to take care of my mind and body; interested in engaging with the world around me. The person I was so eager to shed in lieu of a new, accomplished, adult me, actually ended up being the one most capable of handling the tumult of living in the hectic life of a 20-something starting out in New York.

On my quest to become a mature, independent woman, I made a child’s miscalculation — that there is a shortcut to maturity and success, and that the rate which we achieve these things is completely within our control. It felt good to finally understand that the very self I was trying to shed had became my salvation.(NYT)

What strikes me in Miller’s account are, as always, the ease with which she secured diagnosis and prescription intervention and the good intentions behind her Adderall abuse. Not many addictions start with good intentions. But in classic form, her addiction spiraled out of control; alcohol, depression, and dependency became part of the equation.

Miller didn’t need to abuse any attention deficit drug to be successful. I continue wondering how the adults of the world can tweak, or modify, our messages and lessons on achievement so that our kids and students continue to work hard while not being driven to seek performance enhancing drugs or any cheating advantage.

In professional sports, rigorous drug testing and professional referees seem to be the solutions.

There’s got to be a better way with our children.

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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