Every era gets the drug it deserves. In America today, where competition is ceaseless from school to the workforce and everyone wants a performance edge, Adderall and other prescription stimulants are the defining drugs of this generation.
The pressure to achieve more, do more, and be more is part of being human - and in the age of Adderall and Ritalin, achieving that can be as close as the local pharmacy. No longer just "a cure for excitable kids," prescription stimulants are in college classrooms, on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley...any place "the need to succeed" slams into "not enough hours in the day." But there are costs. In the insightful Netflix documentary TAKE YOUR PILLS, award-winning documentarian Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry) focuses on the history, the facts, and the pervasiveness of cognitive-enhancement drugs in our amped-up era of late-stage-capitalism. Executive produced by Maria Shriver and Christina Schwarzenegger, TAKE YOUR PILLS examines what some view as a brave new world of limitless possibilities, and others see as a sped-up ride down a synaptic slippery slope, as these pills have become the defining drug of a generation.
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This documentary, while edited well, is a very shoddily written one. Not only is it incredibly repetitive, with the interviewed individuals all saying some iteration of "I don't have ADHD but wanted to perform better so I abused a substance and voila, I became amazing," but it also does its best to downplay the significance and necessity of the drug it fails to demonize. Very few times in the documentary do they acknowledge that they're talking about substance abuse, not the evils of a perfectly helpful medicine, and they keep describing it as some miracle drug that makes literally every person who takes it ever hyper-productive and jittery instead of a drug that has harmful affects if abused, just like any other medication on the market.
Fun fact: people with ADHD have trouble sitting still or paying attention because their frontal lobes aren't as active and may even be physically smaller than people who don't have ADHD. Stimulants help "wake up" their frontal lobes so that they can perform basic tasks like homework, hygiene, driving, and even just taking out the trash sometime in the next six months. A lot of folks with ADHD who don't have access to medication often self-medicate by consuming large amounts of caffeine, a less effective but more accessible stimulant, and when they DO have access to medication, INCLUDING Adderall, they behave and perform like "normal" people, not like people on meth or speed.
If this documentary had done more to provide a cautionary tale to those who wish to abuse the drug while also highlighting its usefulness to those who actually need it, it would have been a more rounded and less irrelevant documentary. Unfortunately, it failed to provide, and many MANY people who have ADHD will continue to be stigmatized due to scare tacticians like the folks who put this documentary together.
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