5 Attention Deficit Drugs Reviewed (by Taking Them)
When I first applied to be Cracked's resident drug reviewer, I was informed that "That isn't a thing" and that "We'll be testing tomorrow." But after I went ahead and wrote this anyway, then misguidedly launched a series of pro-drug children's literature and even wrote this science fiction serial novel about the manifold virtues of rampant chemical liberation, the higher-ups started to reconsider ... caring about what I do. So now that they've stopped checking my column for libel before it goes live, let's do another installment of the drug review! Quickly, before they come back!
ThesisMy first foray into the field of professional junkieism was full of mistakes, I understand that now. The chief error was buying all of my prescriptions in baggie form from a man whose office was "the wet spot beneath the pier." But perhaps more scientifically unsound was my own faulty motivation: I was testing for the wrong thing from the start. I understand crosswalks, and I once caught a squirrel with my bare hands; I'm as smart and alert as any human being needs to be, practically speaking. What I really need is more focus. And, as with all things, I assume that stealing prescriptions is the best way to get it.
TestTo measure for any potential increase in concentration, I will be repeatedly watching a 10-minute loop of a sheep chewing grass to techno music. I will measure the efficacy of each drug by seeing how long into the clip I can get before I click away and start Googling He-Man mashups. Our baseline is 0 seconds, because I didn't even manage to hit play the first time. Instead, I watched this three times and then played with my dogs for a while.
Natural SolutionsHippies frequently mistake me for a man who tolerates hippies. This mostly leads to a lot of (frankly unnecessary) bloodshed, but it has also taught me a few things -- mainly, that Mother Nature was the first and maddest scientist. So if we're trying to trick our brains into productivity, why not huff a big bag of organicity first? This article insists that concentration is really a simple matter of adjusting the amount of lubricated fish in your life, and that makes a strange kind of sense to me. Do I have problems focusing? Yes. Am I eating lots of greasy sea life? No. Well, there's your problem.
Don't Take If:Really, the only risk of reaction from natural medicine is from allergies. And as everybody knows, it's impossible to be allergic to something you've never had before. So I've gone ahead and stocked up on the most exotic, oily-ass fish I can find (for less than 10 dollars): These discontinued Latvian pseudo-sardines. There's some kind of half-fish, half-man skull on the back with a giant cross through it, which is a funny way of saying "organic," but what are you gonna do? They're Northern Europeans; anybody who shares a geopolitical region with Bjork gets a day pass from logic.
Side Effects:The complete absence of human companionship. Probably because they make your breath and skin smell like an old Russian's wet underwear.
Video Test Results:I made it 35 seconds into the clip before I noticed this on the sidebar . Curse you, Internet! I am but a man, with all of that creature's vainglorious weaknesses!
Sometimes it's best to start with the obvious. If you're looking to buy a car, you go to a car dealership; if you want a Big Mac, you go to McDonald's; if you want a mattress, you go to Mad Matt's Mattress Mattorium. So if you find your priorities constantly shifting from work to shiny objects, you go with the big name first: Ritalin.
Don't Take If:According to their website, one should not ingest Ritalin if one has "a fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption or sucrase-isomaltase deficiency." I don't understand what any of those words mean, so I have to assume that they don't apply to me.
Side Effects:This is weird: Ritalin lists its side effects as "fast, pounding or uneven heartbeats, feeling like you might pass out and aggression." But what if you're always on the verge of passing out (it's called having a good time, squares), you're aggressive because people are stupid and constantly in your way, and your heart only beats that way because you're so fucking fast?
Video Test Results:I managed to get a full two minutes in this time, but man, that clip of He-Man covering pop songs by homosexual icons really got in my head. I had to tab away on the off chance that the Internet might have Skeletor doing some Queen covers ... And it fucking totally did .
Wait, I'm confused. I started taking this one because I thought it was called Concentra, and that brought to mind images of strong, purposeful men focusing so hard on their tasks that to-do lists literally exploded under their steely gaze. But upon closer inspection, it seems to be called Concerta. So it's, like, a music drug? That seems a bit redundant. We already have a music drug; it's called "all of them." But oh well, I already have a bottle of the stuff, and you know what they say: Once you open a prescription, you have to take all of it or it'll go bad.
Don't Take If:You have a family history of Tourette's syndrome. That's oddly vague. Why not? Will it react with the medication? Will it give you super-Tourette's? Or will you just become so focused that it'll decrease your ability to tolerate your family's hilarious outbursts?
Side Effects:Nothing too bad. I've stopped sleeping and started swearing, and I now have to snap my fingers every time I use a comma, like there, or here, or hey, did anybody else notice that this paragraph is punctuated to the beat of John Cougar Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane"? No, just me? (,,)
Video Test Results:Oh, holy shit! I watched the whole thing twice. This is amazing! I'm not totally sure if it's due to the increased concentration, or if it's just that I have more uninterrupted time to focus on my tasks since I started calling everybody Captain Balls and stinking of the fruits of the Baltic Sea, but I am really getting some shit done now. I mean, so far that "shit" has just been staring at this sheep, but I am doing it. I'm really doing the ASS out of it!
It's called Focalin because it helps you focus. Get it? You ever notice how the methods they use to pick drug names and superhero aliases are basically identical? See, that's exactly the kind of cutting observation that I am focused and attentive enough to make now. It's practically a superpower. My comic book/prescription drug name would be Observolux.My side effects would be "belligerence and sleep racing," and my costume would be nothing but a codpiece with an eye on it.
Don't Take If:It says I shouldn't take this stuff if I've also taken something called MAOI-inhibitors in the past two weeks. Google tells me that's some kind of antidepressant. Now, it's impossible to say for certain what drugs I have and haven't taken in the last fortnight -- what am I, a wizard? I can't just magically know what's in my co-workers' medicine cabinets -- but Dan seems pretty sad lately, so that makes me a little apprehensive. But wait ... wouldn't that mean he's not taking antidepressants? I'm sure it'll be fine.
Side Effects:Eyesight changes. Wait ... ha ha, what? What kind of "eyesight changes"? Will I go blind? Will I get night vision? Will I be able to see lies? That's some worryingly obscure shit to drop on a fella, Captain Balls.
Video Test Results:Wh- who did ... ? How did this happen? Did I somehow post the wrong video or -- holy shit, did anybody else even see that? Is this what they meant by "eyesight changes"? Fuck you, Focalin, this isn't an "eyesight change," this is a madness infusion . And the real tragedy is I'm so goddamn focused that I watched every minute of it. I couldn't help myself. And now, as a direct consequence, I can understand the language that shadows speak. They have nothing interesting to say.
Vyvanse. Vyvanse. VYVANSE. Look at all of those crazy dips and valleys. Vyvyvyv. That word just looks fun, doesn't it? So I took a handful of them. Turns out it was a focus drug, too! Small world.
Don't Take If:I can't take this if I have "agitated states" and a "history of drug use"? Ha ha, shit. You might as well have just put "No Roberts" on the bottle. Whatever, Vyvanse. Thanks to Focalin and the screaming war babies, I can already see death's reflection in the pupils of every man I pass on the street. Really, what are you going to bring to the table?
Side Effects:Vyvanse lists possible side effects as "new or worse behavior and thought problems, aggressive behavior or hostility, hearing voices, believing things that are not true and extreme suspicion." Worse behavior than what? My previous behavior? My neighbor's behavior? Society's stifling rules of normality? There's no measure! And "believing things that are not true"? What do you mean, exactly? Are we talking outright fiction here, like the existence of elves, or just erroneous misconceptions, like thinking that concept albums are a good idea? You're fucking with me, Vyvanse. Shadowfriends, this medication is fucking with me, and I do not appreciate it. Attack....I said attack! No I don't care what happened on Glee last night, dammit, I want you to pull these drug manufacturers into the nethe- what? No shit? Mercedes broke up with Shane? What a bitch.
Video Test Results:I was mistaken earlier. This isn't the wrong video at all. It was the wrong clip before, but it's right now. It's all right now. I've watched all 10 minutes of it, 15 times, back to back. I do that instead of dreaming. And I understand now, I do. I understand everything: I know what has to be done, and why, and who has to do it, and that this paragraph is Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes." Yay, that's fun. That's a fun thing.Excuse me a moment.
Editor's note:02/22/2012, 3:15AM -- Brockway tried to burn down a circus and had to be submerged in an ice bath due to his body temperature of 119 degrees Fahrenheit. For any other potential "drug reviewers" out there, here are some handy tips: Don't "stack" your tests. Make sure you stop taking one drug before you start taking another. Also check to see that they don't all use the same active ingredient. Turns out that every single one of these substances contained some form of methylphenidate, except for the expired can of fish. But apparently the latter, when combined with certain psychostimulants, causes a blood toxicity condition called Spratsblud. The doctors say Brockway's plasma is still too explosive to legally allow him into a public building right now, so I suppose it's up to me to report the final conclusions of this article. Here they are:This was stupid, and somebody is going to be extremely fired the very second that "upsetting their blood" stops being considered an act of public endangerment.
You can buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, or you could just leap to the comments section to defend Sprats, because you have completely and irrevocably fucked up your life priorities.
For more from Brockway, check out The 5 Weirdest Products on the Web, One Disturbing Night and Get Free Drugs From Science (And All You Have to Do Is Die!).