Performance Enhancement Pills: The Good & The Bad & The Ugly


Typically, when we hear the term “performance enhancement” we think of ‘Roid-ridden athletes or elderly men who take a little blue pill.

Today, I want to talk about a different little blue pill: Adderall. After reading the November 4th article in the Atlantic, entitled “The Drugs of Work-Performance Enhancement,” I felt compelled to share my honest reaction with you as well as tips to get you productive without pill poppin'.


It’s been a while since I talked about my psych drug past, but with an article like this in circulation, it’s time to share the darker side of “getting ahead.”

The Good: 

I first began using Adderall in highschool.  Being depressed, I had no real motivation. Adderall offered me temporary relief, it gave me a few hours of frenzied excitement, which to that point was what I thought motivation was.  As the quick morning bursts didn’t seem to last long enough, I was instructed to take another pill in the middle of the day. Again, though it helped my mood and my productivity, it simply wasn’t enough.  I felt agitated. I couldn’t sleep. But was this the Adderall’s fault? Who cared? I could simply pop an Ambien and it would all cancel out, right? WRONG.

The Bad: 

Adderall is actually an amphetamine. Many people have heard the warnings of these types of drugs:


No bueno, to say the least. 

It goes without saying that though a controlled substance is over prescribed, we don’t take the risks seriously.  The NIH states that, “Under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe.” As Nature magazine adds, especially for “mentally competent adults.”

The Ugly:

This makes me throw my hands into the air and throw a small shit-fit. What does a mentally competent adult need Adderall for? And why are we starting kids and teens on it at such a young age rather than teaching them the actual skills they need so they don’t have to drug themselves?

My anger makes me digress.

It comes down to our productivity techniques, our ability to motivate ourselves, and take personal responsibility for our lives.

I firmly believe that this pill robs us of our ability to connect to ourselves. 

As someone who relied on this drug for over 10 years, I can honestly say that what I thought helped me to think clearly only fogged my windshield more.  Let me explain: One of the perks of aderall is the frenetic energy that makes you feel like you can take on the world. One night in college, I impulsively decided I wanted to be a doctor. I knew I hadn’t completed the pre-med requirements, so I had to do a post-baccalaureate program to get the credits for med school. I felt on top of the world, I had a purpose! Yippee! I researched about a million programs, killed tons of trees printing in my college library, and then never applied. Why? Cause I didn’t want to be a doctor. I also didn’t have the organizational skills to follow through with anything. So while the pill technically made me focus, what was the damn point if I’m still not getting anywhere or doing what I truly want.

So what are the alternatives to workplace steroids for adults:

1. Set a sexy goal.

Figuring out what you want is the first step to motivating yourself. Your goal can’t be something amorphous or lame like “I want to be successful.” It needs to be specific and attractive to you. Examples include:  

  • “I want to become financially independent in the next 6 months.”
  • “I want to fit into my skinny jeans by my high school reunion so I can rub it in my ex-boyfriend’s face.”
  • “I want to build my business and leave my crappy job.”

Need help? I’ve got you covered.

2. Remind yourself why you’re doing this.

Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you. That’s the sad truth, but there are ways you can reignite that spirit of motivation. Make a list of 20 reasons why you want to accomplish your goal. Make them specific. Make them dramatic. Sound like a lot? List 10 reasons why you want to accomplish that and 10 ways why not doing it is harming you. Then, read them when you're feeling apathetic. Examples of reasons include:

  • “Being financially independent will give me the freedom to do what I want without having to answer to anyone.”

  • “Not taking care of my health may prevent me from having children in the future.”

  • “I want to spend my time doing the things I love and not answering to a boss I can’t stand”

3. Address your plate.

Avoid the blood-sugar battle by cutting down on processed foods, sugar, and caffeine. You can’t truly focus while you’re on it, and you don’t even want to try when you’re crashing from it. Have cravings for sugar? Learn more here. 

4. Go inward.

You have an internal energy source that doesn’t get used up like a battery and never needs refills. Tap into that place of knowing and allow yourself to be still. That’s where all movement comes from. Set a timer for 5 minutes and meditate. Getting grounded and still is the key to focusing and making each action count.

5. Get a coach.

Sometimes we just need an accountability buddy. For practical organizational tips, time-management techniques, and ways to make the most out of your life, sign up for the new 90 day Accountability Intensive! For more info email me at

I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself. What are your feelings on the Adderall debate? Share your opinions and stories in the comments section below!