SXSW: Take Your Pills

Oh lord – I can’t decide what I’m more relieved about: not being a kid today, or not being a parent today.

Every era gets the drug it deserves, so says the movie’s clever blurb. This generation? This generation takes Adderall. Amphetamines have been around for a long time, but it’s never been more eagerly prescribed to kids than it is today, in the form of ADHD meds, or more abused by students who just like the feeling of being “zoned in” – hence its nickname, college crack.

I’ve never heard of a drug that made me feel old. But back in my day, we took drugs to turn off and check out, but kids today are taking it to check in. And that’s a pretty MV5BNWQ5NDYxNjYtODc4Ni00NmIyLWEyMGYtNGM0N2ZmYjgzYTliXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTg0MzU3NjM@._V1_damning comment on today’s hyper competitive culture in which young adults liken abusing prescribed drugs to drinking a cup of coffee. Like I said, amphetamines aren’t new: The Beatles took them, Andy Warhol took them, Vietnam soldiers took them in order to go, go, go. And then they became horribly addicted, and the drugs became controlled. Except now students are seeking them out as performance-enhancers, faking ADHD to gain an edge while taking the SATs, and getting their hands on drugs whether prescribed or not.

It’s not like this phenomenon was news to me, but being confronted by the statistics in this movie had me uttering “oh shit” with alarming frequency. And that’s what you want in a documentary: facts to open your eyes, and anecdotes to give them colour. Director Alison Klayman looks at the drug’s history, its effects, its draw, its efficacy, the truth and the lies behind it. This documentary takes an issue that may have been niggling at you for a while and makes it not just a headline but an easily digestible information bomb. There are ethics at play here, so ultimately Klayman provides the context but the judgements and decisions are still yours to make – but information is power, and if you’re willing to dose yourself a stimulant, the LEAST you can do is prescribe yourself a little reality to go along with it.


17 thoughts on “SXSW: Take Your Pills

  1. Invisibly Me

    Sounds like quite a relevant, eye-opening one. Hadn’t heard of this but I’m not surprised Netflix have picked up on the current and increasing drug/prescription/opioid problem. Will be checking this out, thanks!


  2. floatinggold

    I thought amphetamines were so last decade. Guess it’s still going.
    It makes me think of an important topic – medication for everything. When I was younger there were pills for high blood pressure and cholesterol (both for old people). Yea, you would get a pill here and there, but in an acute manner, not for a chronic “illness”. It seems like meds are prescribed for any and everything nowadays. It really is horrifying.


  3. Brittani

    I started watching this the other day but didn’t finish it. I’m not surprised, I know so many people who took Adderall in high school to get high. One of my friends now legit has ADHD, but she likes Adderall because it ruins her appetite and thus makes her lose weight.


  4. Carrie Rubin

    I’ll have to watch for this one. It’s a dangerous behavior for sure. And it’s not only the students. Sometimes the parents are taking their kids’ ADHD meds, either to keep on top of things (which they perceive the drug will help them do) or as a way to stave off hunger and stay thin. Is really a concerning problem.


  5. Liz A.

    It’s the same lesson gussied up in a different disguise. One of these days this culture will wise up to the dangers of drugs. But apparently not yet.


  6. J.

    There are pills for everything, eh? It’s like being human is a condition that needs some sort of cure. Fascinating and frightening.

    I’m gonna have to search for this one.


  7. Blonde In Flares

    The problem with this film is that people who actually have ADHD are yet again stigmatized for taking pills which help them to function, we can’t just jump on a bike and “just focus” as the film says.



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