Introduction: From vitamins to painkillers to psychotropic drugs, consuming pills has become a normalized and even expected part of life for many Americans. In 2010, US pharmaceutical sales topped $300 billion dollars and continue to be one of the most profitable industries in the nation[i]. This unprecedented incorporation of prescription drugs into daily life has been referred to by Anthropologists as “pharmaceuticalization” – a complex process that is reshaping the way we think about our health, our bodies, our relationships, and our own identities[ii]. For my CHI fellowship project, I intend to illustrate this process and the dynamic ways pharmaceuticals are understood and integrated into everyday American Culture.
For the purposes of this project, I have chosen to focus on a particular set of drugs which is the topic of my dissertation work: prescription stimulants used to treat the symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This includes brands like