Amphetamine. Created in 1887, identified as a stimulant in 1933. Elevates stamina, muscular force, and sex drive. Raises working memory, focus, and impulse control at low doses, ruins them when abused. Used first to treat congestion, and then low blood pressure, narcolepsy, obesity, and depressive disorders. Also used in World War II to help Allied soldiers stay awake, numb their fear, and kill each other more efficiently (the Germans preferred meth).
In modern times, it is used by college students, truck drivers, competitive gamers, and children with attentional issues. Chemically, it resembles methamphetamine, producing similar harm—fever, tremor, excessive weight loss, psychosis, abnormal heart rhythm—at extreme doses. Unlike meth, low doses probably aren’t neurotoxic, but it’s potent all the same. In contrast to liquor, the withdrawals won’t kill you, but they leave addicts dazed, lethargic, and miserable for days on end.
You may wonder why it appears in this site’s title. Aside from shock value. The answer involves my history.
Like many people, I have ADHD. In my natural state, I pace around, blurt out answers, lose papers in various rooms, and generally make a mess of things. I also suffer constant, severe fatigue, despite my outward behavior. There were days in grade 10 when I could barely keep my head off my desk, even after nine hours of sleep. And the more I force myself to concentrate, the more shit I forget about.
When I was younger, I was excluded from diagnosis, and my parents feared Adderall and Ritalin. For many years, I self-medicated with caffeine instead. Mountain Dew, Vivarin tablets, cans of Monster Energy. It didn’t really work, but I’m also autistic, so I managed to bullshit my way through school anyway. I earned perfect scores from reading textbook chapters a single time, even though I barely understood them, even though I woke every morning wanting to fall flat on my face. As a child, I hid under tables to escape background noise, and cried the first time I felt the sensation of grass. One man wanted to put me in a group home. As an adolescent, I started making friends around the same age my peers started dating, and I refused to start driving, because I thought I would crash.
Finally, at age 16, I convinced my parents to let me get an ADHD evaluation. They withheld consent for nearly a full school year. When I first walked into my psychiatrist’s office, I expected my mother to reject any stimulants, and I was certain my father would.
But where Vivarin, notebook paper, and self-hatred failed, Vyvanse succeeded beyond my greatest hopes. I went from a disorganized, forget student who usually managed to get Bs to someone who earned 90 percent or higher in every class. I became someone who could take care of shit, even if his facial expressions were a little weird, even if he’d still never had a girlfriend at age 17. It slightly disrupted my sleep, but the sacrifice was well worth it.
Today, I take 20 mg of Adderall in the morning, often with a small dose of tea or nicotine gum. My manner is distant, twitchy, and alien, but I’m studying programming at college, I’ve earned a scholarship that pays full tuition, and my old college fund has become a large, general-purpose savings account. In addition, I’ve become a student senator, and I’ve joined three different clubs. I completed a 9-week internship this spring at my local library, and I volunteered there for over a hundred hours to earn my scholarship. I’m currently unemployed, but I intend to change that.
My reliance on the drug is uncomfortable, because it makes me reliant on my psychiatrist, my pharmacy, and the laws that permit them to supply it. But I’ve never abused it. It would endanger my prescription, and high doses injure focus. I’ve had some experiences in other areas, but not many, and none in recent times.
I began listing reasons we fear stimulants, and they have the potential to cause great harm. Yet, without them, I could not live in your world, at least without great discomfort. Like many autistic people, I have a strong memory for certain narrow areas—drugs, psychology, games—but the social issues get in the way, and the executive dysfunction—fatigue, difficulty multi-tasking, poor schedules—nearly seals my fate.
Thus, the name is a show of reverence.