I’ve discussed lifestyle dementia here before, and the premise of Stephen Petrow’s “The Drugs of Work Performance Enhancement” certainly falls into a lifestyle choice that could have negative long-term effects neurologically.
I got anxious just reading Petrow’s article, which discusses the “work-productivity” effects of taking the Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder drug of choice, Adderall, to “work” better. The risks associated with taking Adderall alone should scare people away from this lifestyle choice.
But what really caught my attention is Petrow’s description of the immediate effects of taking it and then the aftereffects:
“While the medication did wonders in prompting me to write, it inexplicably interfered with my ability to speak, scrambling my thoughts before they’d come out of my mouth. (I learned never to take a dose if I were to be out in the world anytime in the next four to six hours, otherwise I either spoke too quickly or too garbled.)”
It’s important to note that speech is commonly one of the first signs of cognitive issues.
As I writer myself, I understand the chaos and the immense struggle sometimes to pull all the research and thoughts in my head together to present a cogently, well-organized, well-presented final outcome.
Some days it’s impossible (and you just accept it and go on to something else), and other days everything flows.
In reality, though, in the bigger picture, that’s kind of how life goes too. Some days work well and effortlessly and other days are just an uphill battle every step of the way.
By tampering with and altering what seems to be the normal ebb and flow of how we humans operate in every area of life, in my opinion, is tantamount to playing God without being God (a very dangerous proposition of and by itself), and is possibly increasing the risk of developing, if not dementia, debilitating cognitive problems later in life.
Adderall is an amphetamine. From Medical News Today, here is a description of the effects of amphetamines:
Amphetamines have the following short-term effects on humans:
- Heart rate increases
- Raised blood pressure
- It can be an appetite suppressant (you eat less)
- They make you feel happy (euphoria)
- They make you feel more in control, alert, able to concentrate on things better
- They reduce the sensation of fatigue
- There may be a positive effect on self-esteem and self-confidence
- The patient may become more sociable
However, after long-term use, the following may occur:
- The feeling of power and superiority may become a problem
- Increased anxiety
- The individual may suffer from insomnia
- Restlessness may increase
- Some people can develop paranoid psychosis (chronic or high doses)
- There may be hallucinations
- The person may experience tremors
- There may be undesirable weight loss
- The individual’s behavior may become more aggressive and even violent
Many of the long-term effects are the same symptoms associated with dementia, and perhaps are indications of the neurological damage associated with dementia that can be specifically tied to the use of amphetamines.
So while, as Stephen Petrow claims, there may seem to be short-term benefits to using Adderall to enhance work performance (I don’t agree with this at all), it is a lifestyle choice that presents the real possibility of long-term negative consequences neurologically.
Most of the current elderly sufferers of dementias and/or Alzheimer’s Disease do not have a history of lifestyle choices that contributed to their neurological and cognitive impairments, although it is my opinion that the chronic stress of the exponential speed of change associated with technology along with living on a toxic planet, breathing toxic air, and eating and drinking toxic food and water are two major contributors to the increasing numbers of dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease sufferers we are seeing now.
However, it is very likely, given the increased trend toward lifestyle choices that are targeted specifically toward affecting and altering cognition, that the next wave of dementia sufferers will be largely populated with these people who have voluntarily chosen to chemically manipulate the landscapes of their minds.
It is certainly food for thought.