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I Self-Medicate My ADHD With a $7 Cup of Coffee. Here's Why.

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

I’m not medicated for my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I looked into medication and getting an official on-paper diagnosis, but that has been delayed due to me needing to simply make the appointment. It’s almost comical that my disorder is the reason I haven’t made the appointment to diagnose and medicate my disorder. That’s life with ADHD in a nutshell. 

Other relevant stories:
ADHD Organization Tools
What Is ADHD Paralysis?
Who Prescribes ADHD Meds?
What is ADHD?

Anyways, I digress.

Seemingly unrelated, a few years ago when I started primarily working from home I started drinking a cup of coffee to start my day. I didn’t think anything of it and it became a little ritual for me. I was never the “I need coffee to function,” person or so I thought. I was wrong and I only recently realized that when I found out that coffee and caffeine are great ways to “treat” ADHD.

There have been studies that show that caffeine can help people with ADHD focus due to it being a stimulant. It’s similar (but still different) to how other stimulant based medication works (think amphetamines). Now granted, it’s generally not as effective, but for someone like me who doesn’t use any official prescription it gives me enough of a boost to actually get my work done (with only a few musical dance breaks throughout the day). 

I started noticing the difference between my caffeinated and non-caffeinated days when I’d be sitting at my computer and my brain would be completely blank. I’d sit there for hours hoping thoughts would come, and they wouldn’t. In a moment of exasperation I’d make a cup of coffee and then miraculously things would get better. I could still process and think, so I wasn’t a demon without it (you know the kind of people I’m talking about right now). I don’t have much to compare it to, but I love the natural little boost that my morning coffee gives me. It’s not enough of a difference for it to be super noticeable nor for a dependency to develop, rather it feels like I’m just having a “good brain day.”

It’s for this reason I say that I self-medicate my ADHD with my $7 cup of coffee, which at one point I believed was a luxury, so much so that I wrote about it. Now I realize it’s not a luxury – it’s a “necessity” (I use that word very loosely) if I want to function effectively throughout the day.

I had a conversation with a friend where I mentioned that I never realized I had ADHD because I had learned to simply accommodate myself. It was never due to a disorder, rather I just believed I worked better in some ways versus others. Now I wonder what other accidental accommodations and medications have I been utilizing to make life work with ADHD.

I’ll discover more as time goes on, I’m sure. Until then I’ll just keep ordering my large hazelnut latte with an extra shot of espresso and extra simple syrup, especially if I want to turn these stories in on time.

Getty image by FilippoBacci

Originally published: August 11, 2022
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