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Seeking Super Mom: More Mothers Are Becoming Addicted to Adderall

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Are the demands of motherhood leading to even more addicted mothers?

This past weekend I had the honor of speaking on the closing keynote panel at the Type A Parent Conference.  We were talking about why we still blog after all these years — next month will be the 8th anniversary of Postpartum Progress — and part of our panel included reading a post out loud to the audience.  I chose one that I wrote recently about having an anxiety attack about being a mother.

I don’t know why I picked that piece, other than the fact that lately I’ve really wanted to accept and sit with and even share my vulnerability, especially to other mothers. It’s difficult to admit how hard parenting can be because I don’t want that admission to indicate that I’m not grateful for my children and blissfully in love with them. I wanted to reveal my insecurities, how I can become overwhelmed and how painful it can be to live through the low points. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m a remedial mom at best.

Judging from how many women in the audience were crying, either they all felt sorry for me or at least some of them realized they aren’t alone. I’m pretty sure it was the latter. We get overwhelmed. We want to do an awesome job. We don’t want our children in therapy some day, not that there’s anything wrong with therapy, because I’m a big fan, but still …

I’m still coming off the high of the conference and the experience of speaking with so many women who said, “Yes. I know exactly what you meant. This happens to me, too!” And then I see this story today from ABC News that more and more mothers are becoming addicted, not to alcohol or street drugs, but to Adderall.

As you may know, Adderall is a prescription drug normally given to those who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, to help them focus. ABC News reports that, “… between 2002 and 2010, there’s been a 750 percent increase in Adderall prescriptions for women between 26 and 39.” Many of those women are mothers, and say they started taking the drug just so they could be … wait for it …  better moms. It makes them feel like they have the energy to keep up with all of their roles, from chauffeur and grocery shopper to laundress and svelte goddess.

Oh my heart. Have we now come to taking, and in many cases, becoming addicted to, prescription medication just so that we feel we can properly carry out our jobs as mothers? We’re resorting to prescription drug abuse?

Because most of these women don’t have a diagnosis that would legitimately lead a doctor to prescribe Adderall, the moms have taken to lying to get what they need. Some falsely report that they lost their children’s medication while others fib that their child needs a higher dose so that they can take the extra. Still others end up moving on from Adderall to even more addictive drugs, like meth.

So what, you might say. If they can get to all the appointments and clean the house and cook dinner and they feel better able to do it, what’s the big deal?  Ending up in an addiction treatment program would be one answer. Addiction experts say the increase in unnecessary Adderall usage may be rising to epidemic levels. In his interview with ABC,  Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at renowned addiction treatment facility Hazelden, said, “This is a significant problem. We’ve got an increase in women using drugs like Adderall ending up in our treatment programs … We know from a medical perspective it’s dangerous and can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, even death.”

Another answer would be that question would be that this is illegal behavior. As in, against the law. Motherhood is hard. We all need help, and self-care is crucial in order to get through all of our responsibilities. Some of us exercise. Some go to therapy. ::raises hand:: Some learn that we have an underlying mental illness that requires treatment. ::raises hand AGAIN:: Some of us have a drink or two. Have girls’ night out. Go to book club. What we’re talking about here, though, is illegal. If your insurance is covering some of the cost of that medication and you have misrepresented what it’s being used for, it’s insurance fraud.

This scares me. Moms, please we’ve got to keep talking. Writing our blog posts about the benefits and the demands of motherhood. Spending time with each other. Supporting each other. Being vulnerable with each other. And helping our fellow mothers find healthier ways to get through the hard days.

Don’t miss a moment – make sure you add Something Fierce to your RSS reader by using this link. If you’re a pregnant or new mom (or dad), be sure to check out Katherine at her fierce blog on postpartum depression, too. And, you can follow her on Twitter as she tweets inane things about her day. 

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