I experienced this sort of tolerance buildup when I first started Concerta – started with a tiny amount and got the rush feeling and suddenly had to clean all the things, but the rush stopped after a week or less and it stopped being effective, and we upped the dose a couple times to 36mg. Then when we tried out 54mg, it was AWFUL and I had to go back down to 36, which is where I’ve been for the last several years. Effects are quite subtle now, because I’ve become used to having my brain work right, and going off it is what becomes noticeable to me – suddenly can’t focus or remember anything, work productivity plummets, house becomes a mess, etc.
As for getting past having to be “drugged”, remember that this is a drug to correct a defect in your brain’s dopamine transmitter system, much like glasses correct defective vision. It’s not a cop-out or compensation for some moral failing. When I was a kid, my parents were really put off by the idea of “drugging” kids to make them function in school. From all the (mostly inaccurate) things I heard about Ritalin back then, I figured it was some sort of tranquilizer used to make ADHD kids (rowdy boys) dopey and easier to control in the classroom. But in truth it’s pretty much the opposite.
Re: keto diet. Your mom is actually not completely off-base here. You’re never going to “cure” ADHD (it’s just how your brain is wired), and certainly not with a magic diet, but certain diets CAN mitigate symptoms. You don’t need to go as hardcore as keto, but from reading the literature and my own experience, diet does make a difference. I had great results with a paleo diet (keto + potatoes, basically) – improved mental clarity and morning energy without my meds, but it was really difficult to maintain.