Posts Tagged ‘obsessions’

Growing out of ADHD: An Erroneous Concept

June 24, 2012

I am pretty much intolerant of junk science, shoddy research and uninformed opinions expressed as fact. Since the web is a total democracy, the banal comments following a well researched intelligent discussion on CNN or other well researched sites drive me nuts because everybody treats them as equally important to the main article and in a web democracy, everybody’s point of view is important even if it is ill informed and the person is a 17 year old cyber bully. However, that mini-rant is not the subject of today’s post.

While researching the current narrow topic of sexual addiction and ADHD, I was delighted to find a paper entitled  “Sexual Addiction and ADHD: Is There A Connection?” by Richard Blankenship and Mark Laaser published in 2004. This paper does an extensive review of scientific studies on the impact of ADHD on victims and the areas where scientific research is flawed or lacking. I believe that every person who has ADHD above the age of reason, every adult with ADHD and every person who has a child with ADHD should read this paper.

Unbelievable as it may seem to many this paper was written by two devout Christians. Blankenship is Director of North Atlanta Center for Christian Counseling, and Vice President of American Association of Certified Christian Sexual Addiction Specialists. Laaser is Director of Faithful and True Ministries, Bethesda Workshops, and President of American Association of Certified Christian Sexual Addiction Specialists. Seems ADHD is not just a problem with poor people who eat nasty food and bad parents, it crosses all socioeconomic and spiritual boundaries.

Of course one of the most comforting pieces of research relates ADHD with above average intelligence, but I already intuitively knew that. Thus, it agrees with my unscientific assessment of me, my family and my friends all peas in the same Mendelian pod.

The slightly less comforting assessment is that ADHD is a chronic lifelong condition which is under treated resulting in a huge loss in adult potential. From their paper:

ADHD if left untreated will metastasize into other disorders. ADHD untreated has been known to become conduct disorder in adolescence and antisocial personality disorder in adult years (Gresham, Lane, & Lambros, 2000). Left untreated, ADHD can also develop into substance and behavioral addictions. A Utah study revealed that 24% of male inmates had ADHD. Other studies have shown that up to 40% of people in minimum security prisons have disorders on the ADHD spectrum (McCallon, 1998).

Perhaps no study has revealed the magnitude of treating ADHD along with co-occurring disorders than that of Dr. Paul Wender. Wender was establishing through his study that ADHD is a lifelong condition and people do not outgrow it. In his study, when inmates were paroled they entered a program for a period of 6 months to 2 years. They were given medication and placed under the care of counselors, doctors, and support groups. National recidivism rates for people released from prison are approximately 60%. The inmates in this study had a two year recidivism rate of only 10%. Only one individual in the study had a new criminal charge while a few had parole violations. Many of these men had been diagnosed as children with ADHD but treatment did not continue past grade school years.

Some were told that they would outgrow ADHD after the teen years. None were being treated into their 20’s. 18% had discovered crystal meth from the meth labs that now exist in abundance. The methamphetamine had given them the ability to remain calm and focused. 20% were medicating with marijuana and heroin. More severe discipline will not change ADHD.

The guilt and shame families feel as they visit relatives in prison is incredible. Way too many were advised by people in the school system, counseling, and psychiatry that ADHD was a condition they would outgrow. Or, in the words of Dr. McCallon, medical director in the Colorado department of corrections “if he outgrew it, what is he doing in my prison?”

I know I couldn’t have said it any better even though I took the liberty of breaking this up in to shorter paragraphs so those with ADHD could take the time to read it.

Sex and ADHD: Part 1, Ranking my Obsessions!

June 23, 2012

Pretty much I accept that the cause of obesity from ADHD is direct. MRI studies show a decrease in dopamine in the brain for people with ADHD. Prescribed stimulants increase dopamine, but for those who never were treated or diagnosed with the disease, there are other ways to self medicate and increase dopamine levels. Sex, eating, taking risks, exercising or achieving goals all increase dopamine. Alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and other addictive substances have a remarkable ability to elevate levels of dopamine. Falling in love, buying lottery tickets, eating chocolate also increase dopamine. We get a much bigger blast of dopamine eating high-calorie foods than we do low-calorie foods.

If I had to rank my obsessions in order, my choices would be difficult because some obsessions seem to always be able to top other obsessions in my body and depending on  factors, some rise and fall on the list.  I have self medicated over a lifetime and have serious long term and short term obsessions. The only addiction that I really believe I encountered is cigarettes as there was no such concept as controlled usage which I believe I have mastered with food and alcohol. Since I quit smoking in 1984, I will rank my current obsessions in the order that they have guided my life and indulging in them gave me the ability to focus, preform well in society and control my ADHD without medication.

Family Love: I learned about the love of family from my mother. She had four children and was devoted to them. My father had his problems which he self medicated with Valium and Alcohol and did the best he could with family love but was simply not as active. 

Romantic love: My wife suffered a lifetime of depression but there was far more good than bad. When she occasionally made poor decisions, I deleted them from my official vision and lived with my perfect romantic image of her which was still true the majority of the time.

Sex: During some periods in our marriage, my wife would lose all interest in sex with me and rather than wander and cause disruptive problems, I suppressed my sexual desires while there were children in the house and focused on the love of my family and my image of our Romantic Love. The power of sex over everything below it on this list, was covered in my First Fat Savage blog which was obsessed in a crude way with losing weight because I was too obese to engage in sex and wanted that part of my life back.

Eating: This is the first of my obsessions which had a negative impact on my body, if I am allowed to ignore a few STD’s among close friends. Actually, it is this obsessive crutch which allowed me to get focused and organized and make a pretty decent living and be a pillar of my community for 40 years.  In my second Fat Savage Blog, which I have not yet organized for publication, I learned to control the timing of my meals and what I ate, in order to balance mid-range obesity  with my sexual performance, ability to do physical labor and mandatory office time. The next two obsessions can temporarily suppress my eating but I am lucky to find many goals or risks that obsessively possess me for any length of time.

Achieving Goals:  Every now and again, an almost impossible intellectual challenge comes into my life and I become obsessed with the solution. On the few occasions this occurred, the goal becomes more important than everything except family love, but once accomplished the goal was forgotten and there was no afterglow of success as there is with food, sex and my vision of romantic love.

Taking Risks:  Taking risks is low on the list because my family loves adventures and risk taking so these turn out to be great adventures where everybody has fun, socializes and gets their adrenalin flowing. The same is true of starting a business ,investing in the stock market and other financial risks which always get the family involved. There is no such thing as a solitary risk in our family.

Purpose driven manual labor (Goal Driven): This is on parity with Alcohol but occurs earlier in the day when I am programmed not to drink. The harder I work to finish a project in my house or yard, the more tired I am and the more likely to go to sleep and feel less of a need for alcohol.

Alcohol: My bottle of wine every night has elements of both social crutch and sedative. In terms of a sedative, I have never been able to beat the narcotic effect on my body after the first two glasses, and I don’t enjoy socializing and banal conversation without those two glasses. I have always recognized that when I drink a bottle of wine I will pass out within the hour and sleep soundly for the next eight to ten hours.  If I don’t drink a glass or two of wine at a party, i will go find something beautiful to stare at and ignore every living person at the party. If I drink the whole bottle and my wife was having a good time, I would find some place and go to sleep until she was ready to go. I don’t fight, argue, drive fast, chase women, have sex, say rude things or swear when drinking, I do that when sober.

Exercising: I really don’t like exercise where I have to go at fixed times to a gym or act like a hamster on a treadmill in a cage.  I would rather find something productive to do and go do it but since that is so low on my list of obsessions, it doesn’t make the cut very often. Still, when enraged in a situation with no answer, I find it easier to walk home six miles than to either drink or drive both of which I enjoy and which I do  not consider mutually exclusive. Finally, I developed “Walking with Wonder” and exercise is part of my new lifestyle.  Still, hardly an obsession.

Driving Fast Cars:  I have had a Toyota MR-2 which takes some skill to drive especially with big winds coming at you and potholes. I know for a fact it will start to go airborne where you lose all control at a combined speed and headwind speed of about 100 MPH especially if you hit  a bump or pot hole the wrong way. My fastest driving is during the day and after my two glasses of wine while socializing, I go home have a couple more and go to sleep. There is a thrill in being able to control a dangerous beast.

Eating Candy especially chocolate: I haven’t quit nor do I believe that I have been on my last binge. I still gain from one candy bar in some circumstances, but there is no benefit at all from binging, but what the hell, it’s an obsession.

Buying Lottery Tickets:  Playing the lottery is a fools game for the math challenged and at one level I know this. On occasion when I am poor, I get obsessed with spending my last $500 on tickets.  When challenged by friends and family, I point out that from Dante’s Inferno, the sign over the portal to hell is “Ye who enter here,give up all hope.” and in my mind, False hope is better than no hope. If you don’t play, you can’t win so you have no hope at all and you are living in hell. If I have quit, it will have been last week, probably because I have no more money.

Marijuana: Quit in 1971 the day my son was born without concern and have been around people who smoked ever since with no temptation. Contrary to most medical reports, I smoked because it kept me awake and allowed me to drink for a longer period of time in social gatherings without falling asleep.

Dangerous Obsessions that caused actual withdraw:

Nicotine: Quit in 1984, worthless addiction that when continued prevents the pain of withdrawal. Very serious withdrawal symptoms which lasted three to six months with several close calls to relapse and flashbacks for years.  I could only do it for love of my daughter.

Caffeine: Coffee in very small amounts had been my friend, however, too easy to increase the quantity in social gatherings and large amounts ruin my day.  Serious short term withdrawal symptoms for one week, with no flash backs. I quit for love of my mind.

I am amazed that Religion did not make the list of items that raise dopamine level because 50 years ago before being kicked out of church for heretical beliefs, I would have included it well above the middle, well maybe not higher than alcohol because I had started drinking a few years before and was discovering my limits at that time.

The Short Term Effects of Alcohol, Protein and Spices on my Body and ADHD Mind.

June 21, 2012

I can tell when my focus is improving because I don’t get distracted from my mission, when my computer or in this case Open Office wipes out everything I have created in the past two days. Even though I am beginning to feel like Job, I also appreciate that I have regained enough of my focus to identify the cause of the problems and solve them.  While it certainly is a challenge when focus and diet have only returned for a few days, at least I am focused enough not to get frustrated and quit.

The biggest thing I learned in my first 9 days of detox is an affirmation of how evil caffeine has become to my body and the change is so dramatic and important, it deserves it’s own post because I ditched the caffeine before I started this detox and eliminated all refined sugar, and alcohol. The former has been discussed in three posts; junk science, my relationship with sugar and what I consider a valid experiment on the effect of sugar on children. Since I don’t eat sugar very often, except for a few times a year when I binge, it really has no major impact on either my weight or my mind. 

Alcohol is a separate issue and few will believe I am telling the truth. After the first three days there is no effect from quitting alcohol at all except for the calories. Now part of the reason is that I know I have a diet that hampers my ability to focus and I am working on that. I also know that if I start compulsively eating I can regain focus.  Perhaps I don’t feel any additional effect because the symptoms of food withdrawal are the same as alcohol withdrawal so I really don’t feel any difference. 

I compensate for missing happy hour by being more social during the day, being more physical during the day and watching a movie during happy hour. Since I am used to drinking my bottle of wine everyday before bedtime, it acts as a sedative and I go right to sleep.  When I quit, I have a problem with sleeping for three days and then I am back to sleeping soundly. When on detox, I intentionally don’t eat more so that when I start back drinking, I wont have problems with the extra calories. Perhaps living on 1500 calories or 600 below normal is why I worry more about food than wine.

I only hope to God when I stabilize on a diet that helps me focus and reintroduce wine that it doesn’t have a negative effect. Oh well, it wont be an issue. My mind is more important to me than socializing and drinking wine so if I find the wine to be detrimental, the wine will go.

The most important fact I am rediscovering is the critical impact of protein and the time of day that I consume it. It is beginning to appear that I need more than 100 grams a day just to hold the wild and woolly things in my mind at bay.  I am also finding that I need half right before I start mind tasks and the other half during the course of the day. Vegan and vegetarian are OK at night as long as I load up on ham and eggs before sitting down at my desk. 

It’s ironic that after a year of suffering the ill effects of lack of organization and focus I am  rediscovering something that I routinely discussed in my second Diet blog.  That is, if I wanted to do manual labor, go to work hungry and it was easy to focus on work. If I needed to spend time at the desk, go to work walk around and check everything that needed to be checked, do the little chores that needed to be done and then go have a big egg and bacon breakfast before sitting at my desk for the rest of the day.  Of course back then, 2006 to 2007, I was more concerned about work than I was about my weight and hovered in an obese range between 215 and 235 pounds.

The other thing I have learned in my first 9 days is highly speculative and has nothing to do with ADHD. I have also been loading on healthy spices which fight inflammation and have referred to this as my “Spice Right Diet.” I have been documenting my Inflammatory Factor using the data from NutritionData.Self.com and comparing it to the happy face pain scale for my next day pain level. In the past 9 days that I have been on my “Spice Rite Diet”, my pain has been dramatically lower than before I started but my pain is always lower in  summer than it is in winter. Before jumping from conjecture to conclusion I will wait until next winter to see how I do.  Besides, I never think about pain when I am totally focused on research and writing so that could be another reason for lower apparent pain.  

The Definitive ADHD Sugar Experiment on Children

June 14, 2012

What would I consider a definitive experiment on the effect of Sugar on children with  ADHD?

As previously discussed in Part 1, much of the work on sugar and hyperactivity is flawed and does not translate to real life parenting. In Part 2 of this series, I discussed my 65 year relationship with Sugar, Me and ADHD. My proposed experiment on Sugar, Children and ADHD is based on real scientific evidence of the effect of sugar on the body and the way children with ADHD really behave. It is based on my 65 years of ADHD and my reaction to sugar of any type whether it’s honey, high fructose corn sugar, refined sugar or brown sugar when I binge on sugar, it is the same results every time.  (see the previous post.)

First I would select 30 controls who ares clinically screened for ADHD and do not have any symptoms of ADD or ADHD. Next I would find 30 kids who definitely have ADHD and are being medicated for the disease. All would be in the same age group, probably 10 to 12 years olds because they are naturally the wildest. Finally, if possible, I would try for a third group of kids who are clinically screened as having symptoms but the diseases is either undiagnosed or untreated.

Now the design of the experiment would be double-blind with groups split in half. Neither the observers nor the children would know which group would get sugar candy or the non sugar candy. The observers would also not know which children had ADHD diagnosed or not and which group was normal.

The experiment would be run in an area set up as a playground with swings climbing stuff etc. Each child would be fitted with a heartbeat monitor, a wrist blood pressure monitor and a number on their back and front to quickly identify the children. It would be explained to the children that they are free to sample any of four to six candies and eat as much as they want and they would be asked about which ones were their favorites.  When the children were not sampling, they could play as much as they wanted or just eat more candy.  The would be free to drink soda (sugar or sugar-free depending on the group) or water as they saw fit. This would be also monitored for each child.

There are no rules or constraints.  Some of the observers should focus on the amount consumed by each child and others on the behavior of the children.  All should act normal as some are medicated into normalcy, some have undiagnosed symptoms because they are apparently normal and the rest are normal. About every 30 minutes, the children should be seated and their blood pressure and pulse rate checked. Then they should be directed to the candy table  where they are asked which ones they tried and what their favorites are and encouraged to recheck. After that, there are again no rules and the children are free to sample more candy or play. After a couple of hours, all candy would be removed and the children would be monitored for blood pressure and heart rate for three half hour intervals and have access to water only. 

About two weeks later, the same experiment would be run again with the groups reversed so all are tested for sugar sensitivity.

I am not sure whether the ADHD children would all be hyperactive, but I would guess that for those who binged, there would be phases of increased energy, and hyperactivity without problems, followed by a crash and either passive or cranky behavior. (Can I go yet? Huh? Huh?) I am also not sure whether the Parents of the ADHD sugar group would have enough trust in scientists to return their children for the second half of the experiment.

The other possibility is for my Granddaughters to skew the test. I have ADHD and her husband does too so the probability is both girls do and depending on circumstances, there symptoms can be severe.  Both are unmedicated, but my daughter is careful about their sugar consumption and what the eat.  They have both been programmed to avoid sugar and all carbonated beverages.  The oldest one is obsessive about following the rules and when together, the little one follows her lead.   If together for this experiment, both would play until every drop of energy has been expended and then they would get disgustingly cranky on a sugar low as they would hot have eaten or drank anything but water during the experimenta period.

Not all humans are the same and not all children with ADHD are the same.

Sugar, Me and ADHD; Part 2

June 13, 2012

Sugar is both my friend and enemy and like many other foods, sugar has many different forms and all effect me slightly differently depending on the form. On the positive side, one chocolate covered peanut M&M’s, regular M&M’s, Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, or one of anything in this type of candy can be a tremendous physical or mental stimulant for a quick energy rush.

I always take a couple of candy bars along on my most grueling hikes with tourists and I usually have a candy bar when the hardest part has been reached and the rest of the hike is easier. I get re-energized and always offer some to the others in the group. Usually, people who are slim and in shape decline. However, I am constantly amazed at the positive therapeutic effect it has on those who are a little overweight and out of shape. They too get re-energized and happily finish the walk. I think they are happy to have me, as a thin fit person, share their passion for candy.

At the other extreme are the sweet candies like hard butterscotch or sour balls and the soft jelly candy like orange slices, cherry slices, gummy bears, sour worms and skittles. These are extremely dangerous when they are sold in large bags at low prices, usually six to ten portions in a bag or somewheres around 900 to 1500 calories per bag. They are pretty much pure sugar with a little color and flavor added.  The other dangerous items are boxes of malt balls (700 calories) or Girl Scout Cookies about 1000 calories a box or more.

Now what causes my binge eating of candy?

There is only one answer and that’s availability. Candy bars are sold in 200 calorie units and I have programmed myself to buy just one so there is no problem. When it comes to the second group and without much forethought, I continue eating the sweets until they are all gone. It usually takes less than an hour.

Initially, there is a feeling of childlike euphoria where I am “happy as a kid eating candy.” This moves beyond euphoria to a real sugar rush, almost like an adrenaline flow, where my blood pressure and heart rate both go up. Eventually there is a return to normal where I get very drowsy and irritable and some might even say argumentative.  I am now down 90 pounds from my peak but old habits die hard. I have probably had five or six sugar binge episodes in the past year. I have learned to pretty much avoid them at home by not buying more than a candy bar for any reason. However, on two occasions, the price of gummy candy got so low that I just couldn’t resist the bargin and purchased big bags of gummy candy.

The rest of the time, I binged at my daughters house.  She really is trying to help but just doesn’t understand the word obsession. She will save all of the Halloween Candy and put it in a candy bowl on her counter for guests. Her family has been programmed to avoid eating candy and drinking any type of carbonated  beverage. Before I started the diet she scolded me at Thanksgiving  when she noticed I had not only eaten the candy bowl, but found her stash and eaten my favorites out of that and was working on the rest. I had compulsively eaten more candy in two days than her whole family had in three weeks. 

This started the Great Obesity Debates and the fact that I couldn’t go to Space Camp with my Granddaughters unless I dropped 40 pounds.  She thought my obsession with candy and food was more disgusting and obscene than the bottle of wine I drank every night. I have gotten better, well a little bit anyway, with a lot of  help from her.  Since no one in her house really likes or eats candy, she quietly discards it after Halloween right before I come.  The same is true of Easter.

My only temptation is when I search for and find her stash of Girl Scout Cookies, which she likes and it only takes an hour or two for me to eat the whole box. When she discovers the missing cookies, I put partial blame on her kids and Cousin Cait but she knows I’m lying.  I feel so ashamed, I normally only do one box per trip unless she doesn’t catch me. 

You can shed fat, you can’t shed obsessions.