Should ADHD kids be medicated? Or am I teaching my child to be an addict?

As a mother in recovery from addiction, I wonder if I am “teaching” my child behaviors and ways of thinking that will make it easier for her to fall into the trappings of addiction. Here is a very real example of a situation we faced with my daughter’s medication. I am so looking forward to connecting with other parents in recovery and hopefully, we can all work it out together!

minute read

By Lisa Partee

At times, we were defensive about our addiction and justified our right to use, especially when we had “legal prescriptions…

~ NA Basic Text: Who Is An Addict?

Bringing honesty to the table

One of the most important lessons I have learned from the fellowship of NA, is that when I share honestly about where I am and what I am doing in my life, I am exposing any “diseased thinking” I may be courting to the light of Truth. I now understand that it is only by investing in that Process that I can become and remain Free.

I want to share about an experience I had this week to firstly, expose my diseased behavior and thinking.  Secondly, to get feedback and suggestions from other recovering parents to help me be a better parent to one wonderful, very quirky, little girl (before we pull out the drug free contracts at home).

ADHD kids and medications: what’s causing what?

One day after my daughter’s Metadate ER medication has run out, I had to concede that I did not possess many or even some of the tools needed to parent a child that was not chemically restrained. My recovering self watched as I made a horrible mess this week. I started to see that some of what I had previously thought of as symptoms of ADHD were really just behaviors that I needed to swiftly and consistently address each and every time they surfaced.

But I think the part that actually scared me to death was, what message was I giving OliviaGrace about how we govern ourselves? What lesson was I teaching her by just my voice, tone, inflection, and reactions? Was I teaching her that even if she really needed medications in her life for certain maladies, she was still very much capable of learning how to cope and accommodate for many of the illnesses or disorders she may suffer from? Or was I teaching her to always look for something external that would tame or “fix’ the internal?

Now, I have been sick and I have suffered from depression so I know beyond knowing that there are so many occasions when medications are not just beneficial -but a blessing! But again I ask, “Am I consistently teaching my child to govern her body and behavior in conjunction with her medications?” Or…when she runs to me (and does a cartwheel and a flip and a karate chop) and starts talking a million miles per minute about ten different topics, do I scream at her and say, “Have you taken you medicine, OliviaGrace??!!” My goal should always be to calmly help her to become AWARE of how she is feeling and what her body is doing.

Teaching children to change behaviors is difficult!

Any honest parent will attest to the fact that the latter of these options requires patience, consistence, and the willingness to do the hard work of teaching our kids to function normally even when it is infinitely easier to just medicate the presenting behaviors. Now, days get busy and life gets hard-I know! And I am old with a nine year old! But I have the benefit of also having two adult children and I can look at them and see the direct results of my having NOT given them the TOOLS and COPING SKILLS they needed when they were younger.

As a young mom, that barely had coping skills of my own, there was so much I just did not know. I think also, that for years I medicated the very essence of who I was. Nobody told me that is was normal to sometimes feel anxious or afraid but that those feelings wouldn’t kill me. Nobody said that okay to laugh really loud and unladylike if I thought something was very funny. And nobody told me that when I hurt really, really badly that big tears were normal…and even necessary. It wasn’t until I smoked, drank, ate, snorted, sexed, and injected every single thing I could get into me and my life crumbled (thank you, God, I was so tired!) and I very slowly started to learn ways just to be. (deep breath) There are days that a part of me still does not want to do that work…but I can look back at a little EVIDENCE in my life now. Yeah…that’s what I want to teach my OliviaGrace. Wow…my oh so smart brain just remembered the literature talking about how we “always looked for that magic pill…”

Have I been teaching my child how to be an addict?

So that’s what it looked like at my house this week. As always, that feels better out than in. I am looking forward to any feedback and suggestions I get here. I am grateful that my family and I now have systems and support in our lives to teach us new and better ways to live…my name is Lisa and I’m a grateful recovering addict. I am so looking forward to connecting with other parents in recovery and hopefully, we can all work it out together!

I’ll keep coming back….

© 2013 by Lisa R. Partee. All Rights Reserved.
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I am a single mom of 2 kids, 19 and 21. The 21 year old is a 3 year sober heroin addict. She was diagnosed ADHD at 13 years old.
    I took her to a psychiatrist who also diagnosed her as depressed. She was because she didn’t feel like she fit in, she was different. That feeling came from ADHD. The psychiatrist demanded that she first be put on antidepressants, then ADHD meds. 3 months of experimenting with the antidepressant, it not working, and still no prescription in sight for the medication for ADHD we stopped.
    She started experimenting with drugs and alcohol and ended up a heroin addict. After 3 treatment centers we went to a psychiatrist who did put her (a sober heroin addict) Adderal. She was on it for less than a year. I feel it helped her figure out how to cope with ADHD. she no longer uses it. It did not make her “rebound” into drugs.
    In conclusion, I do not think kids with ADHD abuse the drug, I Feel people who don’t have ADHD abuse the drug and then accuse people who benefit from it from being addicts.
    I met a nurse and had a conversation about kids with ADHD. She had told me that if the kids don’t get it when they need it that they learn to self medicate with caffeine and cigarettes. I believe her because that is what my child did.
    I don’t think kids should be on it forever, but when they show signs of needing it. Eventually they learn the behaviors that help them when they are not taking it.

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?