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I was diagnosed last spring with Adult ADD. I am 52 and successful but decided about 7 years ago to go back to school part time and finish an engineering degree. I usually do one course a quarter at a very good engineering school and have completed about half of the courses I need for my degree. I know I am intelligent but have found I have to work much harder than most students to get good grades. I found I was running out of time in my day with a family, a demanding job, an old house which always needs work and school. My primary doctor recommended a clinical physiologist to evaluate me and the results were that I was in the 15 to 20 percentile of visual and audio processing ability. I started on Concerta last July and found the improvement in my ability to focus was amazing. Initially, my doctor started me out with very low dosages and together we noted the results until we both were satisfied that the results were what we wanted. I am currently taking about 38 mg of Concerta a day and a 20 mg generic Ritalin during times when I really have to concentrate. The upside was I was able to finish a physics course last summer with an A+ (I already had the work ethic and study habits before the medications). What this means is I could sit down for four hours and consistently focus on one subject. I can read a page one time and understand most of what in on it. I still needed to put in the time needed to master the information but the frustration of reading a page of technical language 10 or 15 times was gone. The downside is that when I am taking the larger dose of drugs I lose my sense of humor and struggle shutting down what I am doing to play with my six year old when she comes into my office and wants some attention. My primary doctor and I talked yesterday and he wants to try Strattera and I am considering doing that, but I am very pleased with the current medication because the results are so good. The concerns are:
1. I am at the maximum recommended doses currently when I am combining the two drugs.
2. The personality changes during the maximum dose times is not something I like and I am sure my wife and children don't like it either.
3. I want to find something that works that has the minimal affect on me while finishing this degree program.
4. If something is working, why mess with it? But after talking with my doctor, whom I both trust and respect, I am going to go on a month trial of the Strattera to see if it helps. I do like the fact that Strattera is not a controlled substance like the Ritalin family of which Concerta is a member.

I would like to mention that in my younger years I did a fair amount of drugs before I realized for myself how destructive they were. During this time, amphetamines were one of my favorite drugs and I believe I was probably self-medicating myself. The problem was I was taking much more than was needed and it is not legal.
Bottom line is, like most adults I personally know with ADD, I am successful and doing well in life. I do not learn like the average person and what was great about my ADD evaluation was the ability to quantify exactly how I process information I see and hear. Like most adult who struggle with this issue I believe that I am normal and probably do not need drugs for most of the issues of my life because I have learned to compensate in other ways. What I do need help with is to process information more efficiently in a traditional college environment. I am not even sure with the information about this “disability” currently available is really even scratching the surface. My primary doctor has told me that there are probably millions of successful adults with ADD out there and he is not sure that the current rush to drugs for this condition is warranted. It may very well be that ADD is a normal condition in human evolution. That being said there is a use for drugs to help processing of information in learning situations but it is not a long term solution.

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