In 2000, four years after Adderall hit the market, nearly five million prescriptions had been written. In 2005, Adderall and other ADHD prescription stimulants continued to rise rapidly. By the year 2010, there were just over 67 million prescriptions written. Five years later in 2015, that number had grown to almost 90 million for ADHD stimulants, with the lions share going to Adderall.

Adderall, and other stimulants, are prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a neurobehavioral condition evidenced by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that was initially focused, almost entirely on children.  In recent years, however, the largest growth in ADHD diagnosis has been in adults.

These drugs have by no means been a panacea and in fact, have carried with them their own addictive baggage.  Around 16 million Adderall prescriptions were written for adults between ages 20 and 39 in 2012. That same year, over 116,000 people went to rehab to try to quit the drug.

Very little is known about the long-term effects of Adderall on humans. With almost no research being done to date.  Teenagers and adults that are using the drug are walking lab experiments.

Do air traffic controllers know something we don’t?

TCI Company’s EVE Labs researched a supplemental herbal tea that was being used regularly by a dozen, or more, air traffic controllers in the Pacific Northwest.  The lab found a substantive increase in the cognitive functioning of those who regularly used the tea.

The supplement was the brainchild of lone air traffic controller James Kerr, who did his own research.  He felt that air traffic controllers worked long hours and coffee was not sufficient to sustain alertness and focus.  Kerr took it upon himself to develop a drug-free formula. Kerr calls his product line “OnTapp Nutrition”, named after the mountain lake he lives on outside of Seattle.

“I felt I needed an edge to be at the top of my game on long 8 to 10 hour shifts” stated Kerr, “and coffee would not do it.”

Consisting of highly concentrated highly “effective doses” of ingredients like “cat’s claw”, “Alpha-GPC” and Bacopa Monnieri, local air traffic controllers started to use it and many swear by it.  Since then the supplement has garnered the attention of the medical community and is being used by doctors and medical professionals with extended hour shifts.

James Kerr – Founder, OnTapp Nutrition

As of yet, OnTapp has not been studied as to its effects on ADHD as a substitute for Adderall.  Stay tuned though, as it seems to show promise as a focus and mental functioning booster. Kerr’s product has been submitted to the National Air Traffic Controllers Union (NATCA) as a potential caffeine substitute for use throughout the system and specifically for keeping air traffic controllers alert and focused for long shifts.  Again, stay tuned.

Are there other legitimate alternatives to these drugs?

As we all know, there is no shortage of over the counter stimulants.  They have made Starbucks over a billion-dollar company.  Energy drinks and NoDoz fill the shelves of convenience stores everywhere.

These may be a quick fix for staying awake, but studies have shown, they are temporary in effect and hardly a solution for focus, memory and a 12-16 hour productive day.

Plenty of sleep and a good diet cannot be beaten as a foundation to start from, but there is plenty of promise in many of the supplements that are available over the counter.

Ehsan Ali, MD, has worked for years as an on-demand doctor for dignitaries, celebrities and fortune 500 movers and shakers.  Ali directs his patients to proven natural supplements.  Here is what he has recommended using (from a recent article in ):

To reduce impulsiveness: Try adding 20 milligrams of zinc to your diet through supplements or increasing intake of zinc-rich foods such as beef, shrimp, or kidney beans.

To help with focus and calm: The amino acids found in protein—specifically, tryptophan, help create the neurotransmitters in your brain that increase the feeling of calm and focus. Dr. Ali suggests taking your protein in a capsule or powder. He recommends 500 mg daily for increased focus.

For overall brain function: Just like Adderall, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to promote improved brain health. Take a supplement, or add more fish, chia seeds, and walnuts into your diet. Adding at least 2,500 milligrams a day, Dr. Ali says will do much of what Adderall can.