In a ideal world, the only people taking prescription stimulants would be those who have been diagnosed with ADHD. But as Netflix’s documentary ‘Take Your Pills’ shows us, not only is adderall prescribed to millions of children all over the United States, adults are using stimulants in record numbers to get ahead – whether they have ADHD or not. From colleges to tech companies to finance to entertainment to sports, more and more people are taking drugs like adderall to increase their ‘human value’. They’re racing to be at the top of their game – and very possibly taking incredible risks with their health.
“At the simplest level, that norms that I would say are driving the use of performance enhancing drugs are those that simply tell us: Your task is to concentrate to perform at the highest capacity you possibly can, and to do it for as long as it takes. Whether it’s at an investment bank or it’s a homework assignment, the question is: How can you come out on top?” – Dr. Wendy Brown, Political Theorist, UC Berkeley in ‘Take Your Pills’
Discovered by Gordon Alles in 1927 and first introduced as a decongestant in 1933, amphetamines were a socially accepted way keep your energy up for hours. Housewives (and women experiencing what we now know as postnatal depression), working men, musicians and writers, those who wanted to lose weight or perform better overall used ‘inhalers’ that would help them get done what needed to be done – or enjoy the fruits of their labours, longer.
In the 1960’s, a public backlash occurred when the risk of addiction was finally recognized and acknowledged. Amphetamine use had permeated industries including the military – Vietnam was seen as the first “pharmacological war” in which US soldiers were given drugs to enhance their fighting capabilities. Amphetamine was soon made a ‘Schedule II’ controlled substance, requiring a prescription. But that didn’t do much to impact its popularity overall (not to mention how this popularity probably contributed to the illicit drug industry that is now worth billions and has taken millions of lives).
Nowadays, prescription stimulants are a business worth $13 billion and millions of people are taking a drug that is chemically one molecule away from meth (most probably don’t know that and would be horrified to be associated with what is seen as a ‘dirty’ drug). And, even though ADHD drugs were first prescribed to treat children, adults are now the majority of the population taking prescription stimulants. In fact, ‘Take Your Pills’ points out that the growing addiction to stimulants – and its impact – is poised to follow in the steps of the opioid epidemic.
As a documentary, ‘Take Your Pills’ does an adequate job of profiling not only the experience of those who currently use stimulants – and see it as a positive – but those who have used drugs like adderall and, because of their negative experience, no longer take it. Is the tone of the documentary pro-stimulant? Not exactly. But this isn’t a question of whether ADHD medication is good or bad for people with ADHD. The question is: why have stimulants become the answer for anyone who has a desire to get further ahead in our current social construct?
There is no doubt that we live in a competitive world and those who are willing to work harder and longer are seen as being – and possibly are – more successful. In fact, we idolize and deify those whose success has come to them after years of constant work and sacrifice. But the ‘myth of the individual genius’ is a tired trope perpetuated by a public that seemingly doesn’t understand – or want to accept – that success on a certain level cannot exist without outside support of several kinds. We worship, idealize, and reward those we see in the public eye, reaping benefits. But we ignore the reality of the risks taken in exchange for said material success that can include serious damage to one’s health. And this is where ‘Take Your Pills’ could have made a more powerful statement about the dangers of stimulant use over time in multiple industries, including – and especially – tech and finance.
Because – make no mistake – the danger is real. ‘Take Your Pills’ doesn’t go into great discussion about the impact of long-term stimulant use but hazards exist. According to American Addiction Centers, long-term use of adderall can result in anything from constipation to depression to thoughts of suicide to a psychotic break. And, because of its impact on neurotransmitters, the more adderall you use, the more you need. ‘Take Your Pills’ profiles a tech worker who admits his long-term use of adderall has resulted in decreased effect; he must take more to reach the states of productivity he first experienced, as well as design his diet to maximize what his body can absorb. Yet, he believes adderall makes him ‘awesome at everything’.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, repeated stimulant use leads to changes in neuronal structure and function that cause long-lasting or permanent neurotransmission abnormalities – a reality some might disregard when stimulants are prescribed by a doctor. Stimulants can also have devastating effects on the heart and blood pressure. Amphetamine use has been linked to an increase in strokes and can possibly trigger epilepsy. Perhaps ‘Take Your Pills’ doesn’t ask it strongly or clearly enough: Is it worth it to push your body and mind past its natural abilities to reach a level of success if your body and mind are damaged in the process? If the path to success could lead to a lesser quality of life, it is even success at all?
“I think focusing on the use or abuse depending on how people feel about this is symptomatic of something broader. This highly competitive environment in which people feel compelled to compete beyond their possibilities to get ahead, this kind of focus on material progress and productivity, what’s the cost of that – and is that a cost we’re willing to live with?” – Anjan Chatterjee, Professor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania in ‘Take Your Pills’
If stimulant use continues to increase, we’re going to find out soon enough. But leading psychedelic researcher James Fadiman asks this question: Are there better, safer, simply less physiologically disruptive substances and that have better side effects? Because, as he goes on to explain, there is no such thing as a ‘side effect’ – everything one experiences when taking a substance is an ‘effect’.
‘Take Your Pills’ does offer some alternatives. We meet a tech publicist who uses microdosing as a way to increase her creative output. Once an adderall user, she now takes a very small dose of psilocybin every four days to avoid what she calls the ‘significant burnout and breakdowns’ experienced by those who use prescription stimulants. Rejecting the commonly (and perhaps, flippantly) oft-repeated catchphrase “move fast and break things”, microdosing allows her to ‘execute properly’. We also learn about a nootropics company that sells natural formulations for cognitive enhancement that don’t put a user’s wellbeing in danger. Is it possible that a stack of complementary nutrients and herbs could produce results similar to prescription stimulants and still be safe?
If you’re familiar with nootropics, you know that they are a powerful alternative that can optimize your energy and focus without side effects, tolerance build up, or dependency. And some of the best nootropics out there are being produced by a company called Limitless Life, including a product called MARK, designed to enhance focus using all-natural, sustainably and organically grown ingredients.
Limitless Life was founded by biohackers, human potential experts and serial entrepreneurs who were inspired to create nootropics after witnessing close friends and family become burnt out by living by the “work hard, play hard” motto. They believed there was a better way to increase focus, energy, and cognitive function so that every person could rise to their highest potential without resorting to dangerous stimulants.
MARK performs three critical feats of neurological chemistry. MARK improves dopamine flow within synapses in the brain, increasing smooth energy that can be put into action. And MARK pings the GABA receptors to reduce anxiety and stress to make staying focused effortless. Once you take MARK, it goes to work in 20 minutes and lasts up to 8 hours with absolutely no crash.
So, how is it possible to create such amazing results without resorting to prescription medications that may cause neurotransmitter damage? Thanks to years of detailed research, the MARK nootropic ‘stack’ combines proprietary compounds of Intellect Tree Seed, Saffron Stamens, and Citicoline to create an unparalleled neurological stimulant.
Intellect Seed Extract improves synaptic choline levels by providing oxygen to the brain, allowing synapses to fire faster and with more effectiveness. Saffron Stamens produce the same antidepressant properties as prescription medications without the long-term neurotransmitter damage, risk of suicidal tendencies, or chemical toxicity. Citicoline enhances mental processes related to memory, learning, logical reasoning and focus. Combined with a very fine-tuned, dense Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C, MARK will enhance your work like no other product on the market.
MARK does not build tolerance so you can take it every day, Thanks to the combination of a choline donor and amino acids. You can work deeply thanks to nutrition that supports clarity, energy, age reversal, emotional wellness, and cell sustenance all at once. And you can do all of that knowing that MARK is made from organically grown, sustainable ingredients grown by farmers all over the world who take pride in growing the highest quality plants.
Is MARK as effective as Adderall, or other prescription stimulants? According to a former Adderall user, MARK is a total game changer for those who know they need a safer option to avoid the long-term damage that stimulants can cause:
“I knew about the dangers of Adderall and ditched my prescriptions but knew I needed support. I had used other focus products in the past but the results weren’t ideal. Sometimes, I felt too wired. Or I was anxious when I talked to clients. Or the brainstorming I did felt brilliant as I was doing it, but when I went back to it the next day, it was garbage.
When I tried MARK, it was as if the veil had been lifted. I was able focus on identifying my talents and strengths and use them to create solutions.
The day I took my third MARK, I went into a meeting with a prospective client and crushed it. I was all about results and spoke with the eloquence of a poet – no one would have been able to tell I had taken a supplement. My presentation was so solid that the client signed a social media management contract right then and there. It was big enough to allow me to go out and buy an Audi A6 – in cash.
It is as if MARK creates a filing cabinet in my mind and lets me find exactly the information I need right when I need it. I use MARK regularly and it’s no coincidence that my billing at my regular 9-5 has doubled.
I take MARK two times a week. There’s no crash, no weird buzz, no jitters. I can take MARK during the day and sleep soundly that same night. In fact, I have the sense that taking MARK has made my brain cognitively ‘cleaner’. Now, I feel like my creative resources are always available to me, whether I’ve taken MARK or not. But when I do, sky’s the limit.” – Griffin Riffe
‘Take Your Pills’ successfully opens a dialogue that has been a long time coming; how far are we willing to go to be our best? While adderall and other prescription stimulants may be the answer for some, they aren’t for everyone. We live in a world full of opportunities and options. And companies like Limitless Life seem to be creating products that give us options that not only help us to be better in this moment, and is also providing choices to empower any one of us with the the bright, successful, healthy future that we all deserve.
‘Take Your Pills’ is available now on Netflix. To experience MARK click the banner below.