In Desperate Housewives season one Linette takes her son's ADHD medicine and becomes very energetic. It gives her the ability to stay awake for hours on end and still do a good job and still have a whole lot of nervous energy...

(According to the plot the medicine has the opposite effect on non-ADHD people to what it has on ADHD people.)

Is this at all realistic?


Yes, it is very realistic. While ADHD seems to be about kids who have excess energy, what it really is about is the focus and concentration.

ADHD is caused because the areas of the brain that control focus and concentration are UNDER-stimulated or under-activated.

So, taking a stimulant, for those with ADHD, actually activates/enervates those portions of the brain. It seems to "calm" the afflicted child or adult, but what it's really doing is allowing them to focus their efforts and energy.

Now, to someone who does not have under-stimulated brain function in the area of focus and control, it just has the general, overall stimulative effect because it is a stimulant, after all.


Prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderal (brand names) are used to treat some people with ADHD symptoms. They are intended to help the person (often a child) focus on their academic studies.

The effect is different on the brain of a person without ADHD, and some of these stimulants are some sometimes referred to as 'speed', a street drug. These drugs are therefore often dispensed by pharmacists with a greater degree of security measures not seen with most drugs - for example having to show photo-ID when picking up a prescription.

Here is an NIH article on the effect and abuse of such drugs

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .