Student newspaper of Kirkwood High School.

The Kirkwood Call

A new lease on learning

art by Chloe Hooker

art by Chloe Hooker

Holden Foreman, web editor

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Erving Goffman, Canadian-American sociologist and writer, determined three targets of stigma: overt or external deformities, known deviations in personal traits and “tribal” affiliations. Yet, according to 53 percent of students (110/206), prescription medication usage is also stigmatized in American society; in other words, some people disapprove treatment of diagnosed medical conditions. Seth Paradise, a junior diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), said he wants to know why.

“[Medicine] is definitely something people should look for if they have a problem,” Paradise said. “I’ll find it a lot easier to do my school work and stuff as opposed to when I don’t take my medicine. I’ll be more impulsive and more talkative [without medicine]. In IP I won’t handle my time very well.”

Paradise said he thinks the “study drug” Adderall gives a bad rep to ADHD victims in particular. Still, Paradise relies on 72 grams of Concerta, an ADHD medication similar to Adderall, just to make it through a school day.

Concerta’s generic equivalent, methylphenidate, treats symptoms of ADHD in a manner similar to Adderall, which consists of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies both Concerta and Adderall as Schedule II controlled substances, which means they carry “a high potential for abuse” and “are also considered dangerous.”

“There’s more pressure today with school,” Amber Kapral, junior grade-level counselor, said. “People have to strive to be the best, be competitive and take the AP classes. [KHS] specifically is very competitive.”

Paradise said his doctor prescribed him Concerta when he was 10 years old. At the time, Paradise said his parents were only worried about controlling his ADHD symptoms.

“I was a hyperactive little kid, so they tested me for ADD and ADHD,” Paradise said. “I got prescribed [Concerta] for ADHD and basically just took the medicine. It helps out a lot.”

Paradise and Kapral said they know of people abusing ADHD medication. While Paradise does not view the drug as dangerous, he said he would not want to simply hand Concerta out to random peers.

I don’t think you have ADHD or you don’t. I think it’s just people tend to be more hyperactive than others, and there’s even people who don’t have ADHD who are more hyperactive than others. It’s kind of a spectrum.”

— Seth Paradise, junior

“I legitimately think I have hyperactivity and a low attention span, but it’s just what you think about it,” Paradise said. “I don’t think you have ADHD or you don’t. I think it’s just people tend to be more hyperactive than others, and there’s even people who don’t have ADHD who are more hyperactive than others. It’s kind of a spectrum.”

Regarding the stigma surrounding ADHD medication users and their supposed attempts to get a leg up in school, Paradise said he does not worry because the medicine does nothing to increase intelligence. Kapral said the issue rarely comes up at KHS but bothers her nonetheless.

“Everyone’s makeup and body chemicals are different, so without consulting a doctor you might be medicating incorrectly or for no reason,” Kapral said. “I’ve had one case where an individual needed [ADHD medication] and was selling it to a friend who thought she needed it but she wasn’t diagnosed and didn’t have any doctor consultation,” Kapral said.

Paradise said he does not take Concerta during the summer because of the medicine’s side effects. Blaise Fagan and Aaron DeMarco, Paradise’s senior and junior teammates on the boys’ tennis team, said they did not know Paradise took Concerta in the first place.

“Unless you’re working to study, it doesn’t seem like it would be fun,” Paradise said. “It’s not a fun thing for me. It makes you kind of restless. It makes it hard to sleep. Also, it changes your mood and makes you more level. [Concerta] is like a zombie feel sometimes, especially in the morning when I’m tired. There’s less emotion, and it’s weird. It’s hard to explain.”

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Student newspaper of Kirkwood High School.
A new lease on learning