Self-Medication Through Technology

I was first diagnosed with ADHD in my Sophomore year in High School in the mid-’90s. While this is the least surprising diagnosis in history, it was before the “Oh, just give the 8-year-old Ritalin” days and it took a while for my family and me to really know what I was struggling with. I always knew something was off, but I never really knew what it was, which lead to a tremendous amount of self-medication.

In my pre-High School days, caffeine was my go-to drug of choice. I can’t imagine my old bedroom without seeing cans of diet coke and Arizona Iced tea strewn about the room. In High School, it was… well, it was the things that many of us try in High School… Midway through High School, I went from self-medication to actually medicated with the official prescription of Ritalin1. While none of these habits have stuck with me, I think it is safe to say that I am familiar with what the pattern of self-medication looks like.

Once again, I see myself self-medicating, but this time it isn’t a substance, but with my love and use of technology. For me, self-medication has always been about filling a hole or a gap. I was always hyper and caffeine calmed me down. I was always anxious and the “joys” of High School took the edge off. I could never understand the concept of “focus” and Ritalin finally taught me what my parents and teachers could not.

Now, my biggest struggle is getting organized enough to stay on track while getting everything done and technology is quickly becoming the medication of choice for getting my crap together. I am leveraging the tools well and the results are obvious to many around me. The real challenge is figuring out if this is a good or not. The caffeine wasn’t great for me, the High School indulgences were really not good for me and the downsides of Ritalin and other ADHD drugs were outright terrible for me… So what about my use of tech?

I am more productive than I have ever been before. I am more creative than I ever have before. But I am more dependent on systems, applications and hardware than anything I’ve ever done or used before. The results are positive, but is any kind of dependency a good thing?

I don’t really have any solid answers today and I’m sure I’ll revisit the topic, but for now, I’d love to know if any of you are having a similar experience? If so, what are you doing about it, if anything at all? If not, lucky you.

  1. This didn’t take long-term, but that’s another post for another day.  

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