How Controversy Speaks to Self-Awareness

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – May 16, 2022

In my talks, podcasts, and videos, I relate information and helpful advice on various topics concerning ADHD and attention. From time to time, I receive comments and questions from folks disagreeing with what I say, because they “feel” what they are doing works for them.

For instance, let’s think about the great marijuana debate. Many marijuana users say that cannabis decreases ADHD symptoms, like anxiety, panic attacks, or phobias for example. They claim they don’t notice any negative side effects from its use. The question is, however, is it possible to notice long-term effects in the short term?

In the past, it was fashionable to smoke cigarettes. When people smoked, they were rewarded because the nicotine made them feel good. Many were also rewarded indirectly (that is, better performance at work and school) in that nicotine helped them focus just like the effects of stimulants. These days, we know the long-term impact of smoking tobacco.

Here is the thing. I’m neither in favor of nor against cannabis use, nor am for or against smoking, just like I’m not for or against stimulants. I am pro education. Just because you can’t feel negative effects doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

On the other hand, something that can be justified in the context of a better quality of life can have negative long-term effects. For example, chemo or radiation treatment for cancer may have negative long-term effects but it may extend your life.

The same concept can ring true for those who demonize stimulant medications for ADHD, citing long-term negative effects. While these negative effects may very well exist, the next question is whether they improve your quality of life in the bigger picture.

The point of all this is to urge you to be fully informed in your decisions. Just because you “feel” something is good doesn’t mean there are no long-term consequences. By the same token, just because you “feel” like something is bad doesn’t mean the outcome won’t bring a better quality of life.

Facts are important in a decision. Often, you need to override your feelings and think.

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