Prescriptions drugs used as stimulants have become a pervasive facet of American life, from colleges to workplaces as everyone seeks to gain a competitive edge in their labor.

Mother and daughter Maria Shriver and Christina Schwarzenegger serve as executive producers of Netflix’s new documentary Take Your Pills, which centers on drugs like Adderall that people have consumed and their effects on performance and behavior. The film, directed by Alison Klayman and premiered at SXSWwas released on March 9.

In an exclusive video with uInterview at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Shriver noted that the documentary is her 26-year-old daughter’s “passion project,” as Schwarzenegger realized quickly how severe the issue of substance abuse was in many different work environments.

“Just from seeing it firsthand being in college and seeing the amount of students being prescribed Adderall was just very — it’s a schedule two substance — it’s high chance of use and it’s easily prescribed overused,” Schwarzenegger explained how she first took interest in the subject. “I started to venture down off of not taking it anymore, I was kind of looking for resources and different kinds of information on Adderall addiction or how to come off of Adderall, different things like that and there wasn’t much information out there, and there wasn’t much information on studies being done, long term studies, and I’m generally interested in documentaries so I searched for a documentary on Adderall and didn’t find one so I went to my mom saying it’s something we should cover and bring to the front because it’s happening a lot, it’s happening you know whether it’s in college students, parents, you know professional athletes. It’s happening everywhere and no one is really talking about it.”

Although Adderall is primarily used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), ADD or similar disorders, some people have begun using the pill for other purposes, and Take Your Pills partly explores the negative consequences of addiction to the drug.

I think that the downsides are you miss a lot of moments for connection with people,” Schwarzenegger explained. “You’re very zoned in, which is great for doing work and all that, but I think you miss a lot of- you miss connecting with people, you miss chances to be out in nature relaxed, you’re wired 24/7. So that is all taken away I guess when you’re using it that much and those are very important things that all of us humans need, connections to have friends, to be social.”

Shriver added what she believes the film accomplishes best. “I think what the film does really well is that it gives you the pros and the cons and it gives you the history of it and it lets you — it really asks these questions ‘Who are we?’ ‘What have we become?’ ‘Are we just pieces of capital?’ ‘Are we expecting ourselves to operate 24/7?'”

Shriver has previously produced documentaries like The Mask You Live In and Paycheck to Paycheck — which deal with masculinity and financially struggling single mothers across America, including Katrina Gilbert in particular — revealed how proud she has felt about being involved with these types of films. 

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I think it’s great, I think whenever you have a chance, you take a subject and ignite a conversation around it,” said Shriver. “I feel like I did that with my Alzheimer project that I did at HBO, I did it with Paycheck to Paycheck. Certainly did it in a film, with Still Alice made everyone talk about Alzheimers. And so I try to make films that ignite conversation that open hearts and minds, that’s my mission always. I think Take Your Pills does that and so I think there a lot of great subjects out there that need to be examined or reexamined. And I think people learn a lot from documentaries, so I’m really glad they’re having a heyday.”

 

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