Normal. It's not a word I'm used to using in regards to Lindsay Lohan. From the very beginning she has been many things -- oh how I adored her as the red-haired imp on The Parent Trap, Culottes Edition -- but she has never been normal. Currently, for those of you keeping tabs on the fallen princess, she just finished serving jail time for missing her alcohol classes and went directly to rehab (do not pass Hollywood & Vine, do not collect $200). She was supposed to spend 90 days in rehab but doctors at the UCLA center have decided that she might not be an addict after all, despite all the photographic and textual evidence of her looking inebriated and/or high as she gets DUIs and has raging public fights with her exes on Twitter. No, it appears her problems with manic behavior, impulsivity, sleep disturbances and even alcoholism, are all symptoms of a psychosis brought on by addiction to the AD/HD drug Adderall. And in this, Lindsay may be more normal than we'd like her to be.
It is estimated that about 25% of college students take Adderall or Ritalin for non-medical purposes. No one really knows for sure because students are understandably reluctant to 'fess up to their amphetamine use although ask any college student you know and they'll likely tell you it's easier to get an Adderall than a beer. Prescriptions of the drug are up 3100% over the past several years which only increases the black-market viability. Even in my un-hip over-30 demographic, I run out of hands to count on before I run out of people I know who have used it.
A while ago, I wrote about an experience where a friend at the gym approached me about taking Adderall to lose weight. She called it "the perfect life in a pill" and was so persuasive in her efforts (and descriptive in her how-to's) that I was sorely tempted to give it a try myself. Although it's not mentioned in any of my pregnancy manuals, being that I'm a nursing mom and we're not even allowed to eat unpasteurized cheese I'm pretty sure that recreational prescription drug abuse is a no-no. I wrote the post in an effort to cleanse myself of thoughts of magically fitting skinny jeans and brilliant articles that write themselves. But it was all the comments you guys left me detailing your horrific experiences with it and the many detrimental side effects that really sealed it for me. I never tried it. (Seriously, anyone contemplating non-medical Adderall use should go read through that comment thread.)
For those people truly afflicted with AD/HD, the drug can be a lifesaver but for people wrongly diagnosed, the fallout can be severe. According to doctors, Lindsay is not AD/HD and should never have been prescribed the drug - small comfort, I'm sure, as she roasts on the spit of public condemnation. But in a world where achievement is everything and our public figures are only as good as their last interview, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out how she would end up with her very own golden ticket on a Rx pad.
What happens to Lindsay Lohan now that she's been taken off the meds is anyone's guess. Perhaps she'll metamorphose overnight back into the moppet we all loved and start being a reliable actress again. Or maybe she'll go on a coke bender and all our speculation about whether her symptoms were "cocaine-like" or just "cocaine" will be ended. For the record, I hope it's the former. As much as I love a good train wreck, I prefer the ones where everyone walks out alive.
Either way though we now have conclusive proof, walking around in padded-knee "Presidential" leggings, that Adderall can make you crazy. To this end, Lindsay may end up being a more powerful cautionary tale about the risks of abusing prescription stimulants than any D.A.R.E. campaign college boards could imagine. At the very least I suppose I owe her a thank-you card.
Have you ever used Adderall or another stimulant for an off-label purpose? Do you really think Lindsay's problems are all the result of a bad ADHD diagnosis?
Follow Charlotte Hilton Andersen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharlotteGFE