“We have to teach my generation how to focus…ASAP”
By: Matt Johnson, President at On Target Living
On a recent flight, I scanned through the USA Today and an article written by Dr. Lawrence Diller titled “When Will America Just Say No” catches my eye. The article is about the overuse and abuse of Amphetamine based drugs like Adderall in our country to treat ADD and ADHD, specifically among the Millennial generation (Born between 1980-1995). This subject is on the top of my mind lately. First because I was born in 1986 and second, because I am currently in the process of writing a book with an emphasis on millennial health and performance with a specific emphasis on focus, engagement, fulfillment, health and happiness.
We all hear and use the term ADD and ADHD on a regular basis. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders. The condition is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), though this is considered an outdated term. There are an estimated 6.4 million diagnosed children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The three primary symptoms of ADHD are:
As a kid and teenager I was labeled with these acronyms….A LOT! But, luckily my parents wouldn’t allow me to use drugs to treat it.
I’ll admit it. I was a total spaz kid—my poor parents. I had many similarities to The Problem Child (1990 Movie) and Dennis the Menace. But, as life went on I learned how to manage my spastic high energy. I guess this is depending who you ask—my wife still thinks I am nuts. Although, it wasn’t always easy to manage my wild spaz side, I slowly learned.
This allowed me to realize that just because there is a solution out there—doesn’t mean it is the best solution. Slow and steady wins the race right?
Up until now we haven’t been asking the right questions. How can we truly improve focus, attention, and concentration without the use of drugs? Also, what is the long-term harm and addiction of these common drugs?
According to Dr. Diller, the big reason he feels millennials are so addicted to these legal stimulants is because of what he calls “AAD”-Achievement Anxiety Disorder. It is well documented that millennials will be the first generation to not live as well or as long as their parent’s generation.
In the United States, we produce 211 tons of these drugs making it a 9 billion dollar industry.
Adderall was something that was always thrown around as the solution to my problem. In high school and college it seemed Adderall was the solution for everything. Not only was it the magic pill for concentration and athletic performance but for weight loss as well. Because Adderall speeds up your system, it can cause you to not feel hungry (more of a high feeling) contributing to less food intake and weight loss. Because this is caused from the adrenals being over stimulated, long term affects of Adderall can cause the body to become very acidic and mineral depleted causing issues with bone health, metabolism, heart function, and sleep.
Although, Adderall is a prescription—it is way too accessible and seems that everyone could find a way to be prescribed to it just by telling their doctor that has difficulty concentrating.
I think the AAD (Achievement Anxiety Disorder) that Dr. Diller mentioned in his article is very fascinating. I am in the same boat as everyone– I want to be successful and I want to stay ahead. As the Millennials soon become the majority of the workforce in this country, everyone is looking for that quick success. But what is really concerning is no one is training this generation on how to achieve and manage success–naturally.
As I travel the country working with corporate groups and teaching them the foundations for health and performance, I am always blown away with how eager people are to learn about focus and attention. So why aren’t we teaching this?
I was always a pyro growing up and most definitely had ADHD, but I was never crazy enough to add gas to a fire. But this is exactly what our society is doing in the fight to help people pay attention and stay focused. The number one medication for treating attention and focus is amphetamine-based drugs like Adderall. The question we should really be asking is, why are we struggling with focus and attention? I believe it is our over stimulation to everything…texts, snap chats, tweets, posts, instagram, emails, work etc–not to mention TV, Internet and every other stimulus in the environment. So this is the FIRE! We have an over stimulus problem and we think the best way to fight it is with another stimulant…adderall.
Instead, let’s ask ourselves a better question. What can we do to manage our stress and overstimulation? How about putting the phone down, getting outside, sleeping, eating better, and moving daily? How about getting a little R & R? Remember, that relaxation is a practice—the more you do it—the better you get.
So what causes lack of focus in the first place? Is it your genetic make up or what you make of the things you do?
I’ve had to ask myself, how is it that I can play 36 holes of competitive golf and stay focused but I couldn’t pay attention to my language arts teacher back in highschool for more then 30 seconds? Finding my passion and things I enjoy, truly helped me to focus and experience the moment. Having a purpose can be the strongest driver of all. Of course, there are things in life that have to do but don’t enjoy but that’s why balance is the key and practice makes perfect.
The bottom line is that there is never a quick fix or a magic pill. All medications have side affects and many of these drugs have not been studied long enough to know what the long-term affects are. Who cares if we have found medications to make us live longer—shouldn’t it be all about the quality of life we are living? It’s not about the years of your life, it’s about the life in your years. We are also finding that genes don’t play much of a role in our health after all—it’s our lifestyle that plays the biggest impact.
My mission for the next several years is going to be to teach people, especially millennials, how to get focused and stay engaged. Life is so much better when you can learn how to do this and do it well. It may not be an easy solution, but it is a necessary solution.
Why not be the healthiest and happiness generation of all time? Why wouldn’t you want to be your best self? Lets stop relying on the quick fixes and instead look to long-term success. Life isn’t a sprint and I hope you don’t want it to be. Health is wealth.
Perhaps we can focus on fixing the source of the problem versus the symptoms with healthy eating, exercise, and quality sleep.
Try to go 24 hours without technology every month. Unplugging will make you happier, healthier and you will come back ready to go.
Using the “food target” will allow you to cut out some of the processed garbage that makes the brain wonder and makes you feel foggy.
95 % of the country is deficient in omega-3’s…these essential fats help with brain support and development. You can get these fats from; fish, cod liver oil, walnuts, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds.
Try reading 3 books a year. I never liked reading, but I love learning. Set a goal to read a couple times a week. It will help to expand your mind.
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep will allow you to get adequate REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is when the brain heals and long-term memories are stores. Drinking alcohol impacts REM sleep dramatically.
I hope this will help you to find the wRite focus!