Can ADHD medications change who you are? Do stimulants alter your personality so you think and do things you otherwise wouldn’t? Do they make it so you no longer take responsibility for your actions?
Researchers in the United States and United Kingdom were interested in finding out how children diagnosed with ADHD experienced having the condition and what it was like to take medication for it. So they started the ADHD VOICES study to look at “the ethical concerns about authenticity, moral agency, and personal responsibility” as well as issues around behavioral norms and academic pressures (adhdvoices.com).
The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the researchers interviewed children aged 9 to 14, some with the diagnosis and others without it, and some with ADHD who were on medication and some who weren’t. The purpose of the study was not to support or attack the use of ADHD medications, but to find out whether the people using them found them beneficial or harmful.
The researchers concluded that ADHD medications help children stop and think before acting, support their moral development, and help them take responsibility for their actions–good and bad. They emphasize that stimulants are not for all people with ADHD and they don’t solve all the problems that people with ADHD have. They are just a tool that may or may not be used. And they’re not a substitute for good communication among the patient, parents, teachers, and health care providers.
For more information, see the video made from interviews of children in the study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyaVKvuEBkk&feature=youtu.be.