C is for Coffee|Coffee and ADHD

We’re so addicted to caffeine in our house that my husband Kevin started roasting coffee beans in a popcorn popper on the stove.  When I wake up in the morning, I won’t even put in my contacts before I make my double shot of espresso.  If I sleep late on the weekends, I drink extra shots to quell my vice-like caffeine headache. After school, I make another shot or two to relax.

Relax? Yes. It could be a placebo effect that reminds me of drinking cappuccinos in Germany around 4 PM in a crowded cafe. I savor the espresso as I whomp open my laptop, sit in my favorite chair, and begin to write.

Before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I drank up to 10 cups of coffee a day. That was in the extreme mid-nineties, when I was living la vida loca.

I met an entrepreneur who has one shot of espresso, just one, to help him focus, instead of taking ADHD meds. Last week I was talking with a school counselor who told me that her son didn’t like his meds so he drank a little shot of Mountain Dew in the morning.

Caffeine and ADHD Meds

If you’re on an amphetamine, and you drink coffee- that could cause a synergy effect, which could make your meds more or less powerful.  

Additionally, caffeine is a vasoconstrictor. Amphetamines used to treat ADHD, like Adderall and Ritalin, also shrinky-dink your blood vessels. Thus, caffeine is an amphetamine copy cat in terms of its effect. Some scientists say that caffeine should not be given to children (and how would amphetamines be safer???)

The decreased blood flow may help diminish ADHD symptoms by lessening overactive brain activity areas, and permit them to work in harmony with the rest of the brain.

Is it Faux ADHD- ADHD Wannabe?

If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, and you’re perpetually exhausted, you may be an ADHD wannabe.  The frontal lobe, which is in charge of executive functioning (organization, controls impulsive behavior, etc.) of the human brain doesn’t perform as well when exhausted. This could cause FAUX ADHD symptoms.  People with wannabe ADHD just need to get back on track with their sleep hygiene, and they’ll be fine. Or it could be the sign of another medical condition or disorder. See your doctor for help, and if that doctor doesn’t know what you’re talking about, consider going to another one for a second, third, and fourth opinion.

However, if you have genuine 24 Karat ADHD and  you’re overly tired because you stay up too late binge watching TV or dinking around online, exhaustion could make your symptoms worse.

When I’m super tired, I have a harder time staying focused, prioritizing, and organizing my thoughts. The cool, creative zippy thoughts don’t come as fast, either, and I have a harder time holding onto my thoughts that bounce through my head like the cow jumping over the moon.  On those days, coffee helps about as much as  having a band-aid on for fifteen minutes when you cut yourself with the razor and then ripping it off again. There’s no ducking away from exhaustion on those days.

The sleep deprivation just worsens my ADHD symptoms. On those days, I take a nap, reset myself, and make sure to go to bed earlier that night like a good child.

It could be worse.

There are much worse substances besides coffee to self-medicate.  As long as your stomach permits it, it’s better to chug coffee than down absinthe to muddle through your ADHD woes.

P.S. I heard a cop say that he pulled a gal over for erratic driving. While giving her the field sobriety test, it turns out that she had drunk twenty-one shots of espresso within a short time frame!  Do you think that would hold up in court?

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Nancy Carroll Written by:

3 Comments

  1. April 4, 2014
    Reply

    I think if they started including caffeine in DUI arrests, they’d probably be arresting a lot of people! Caffeine is the only way people stay awake overnight. Although I would think many people would drive better, rather than worse, after 21 shots of espresso–unless it made her really shaky?

    • April 4, 2014
      Reply

      After 21 shots of espresso, she was tweaking and rather impatient during the field sobriety test!

    • April 10, 2014
      Reply

      Stephanie,
      The cop said that she was acting like she was on meth. But what judge would take a DUI caffeine case seriously? 😉

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