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Marissa

The "first pill" and "abuse"

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I've noticed that a lot of people on this site started taking Adderall when they weren't prescribed it yet, from a friend or something. This has just got me wondering, is it easier to identify "abuse" or "addiction" when a drug/medication is taken out of the medical context? 

 

To me, I don't see a real difference between people prescribed it and people who get it from other sources, especially over the long term. In a way, I see the same psychological dependency forming, and the same "need" to take it, for the same reasons.

 

But I'm wondering how much the social context of taking drugs effects the person taking it. I identify as dependent and essentially addicted to Adderall, despite my prescription. But I wonder if I had gotten these pills elsewhere if I would have reached that conclusion in a different way, or maybe even sooner. There's always been the "these are my meds, I need these, the doctor said so" feeling because I've been told that my whole life. But deep down, at least for me, I know that my habits aren't all that different from the people I know who aren't prescribed it. I wonder how much the medical justification for taking pills plays into how we see them and how they effect us. Has anyone else thought about this? 

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I think there is a lot of mental medical justification for taking pills.  I have seen through the veneer of "prescribed by a doctor" ....... especially after stopping. I don't think I would have gotten started at all if I had to get my drugs on the street.

 

I used speed sporadically in college and never got caught up in the web of addiction. I would take a pill that was probably the equivalent of 25mg or 30mg's of speed. It was so hard on my body and my mind that I was totally relieved when it was over. Nothing I was drawn to at all.

It was not until a doctor prescribed the medication at low dosages (5mgs) that I could tolerate it on a daily basis and my usage crept up from there, the doctor smiling all the while. "We can increase the dosage to as much as 70mgs a day."

 

I don't think it is acceptable to be weaned onto an abusive drug, with such little concern, by the medical establishment. A psychiatrist holds the trump card when it comes to this addiction. My family doctor protested the long term use of it for the first few years, then just gave up.

 

I hope I didn't get too far off topic.

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I've always thought that drugs are drugs, whether you get them on the street or from a pharmacy. All illegal drugs were legal at one point and used for 'medicine.' So i never deluded myself into thinking prescription speed was less dangerous or addictive than street drugs. When i quit my mind went to all kinds of justifications though. Like maybe i really have add and i need speed. I just pushed through those thoughts and recognized them as the addiction talking. Reading the book 'On Speed' put this topic in perspective, the marketing of amphetamines throughout history and how the diagnoses change over time to suit the culture.

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Jon I think you have an interesting point. I agree, I don't think the medical community understands the gravity of prescribing addictive medication for long term use. I feel like there's a difference in the way the medical community sees speed and the way its actually incorporated into our understanding of it. If it's not working, up the dose, just like anything else. The only problem is adderall and other stimulants aren't like anything else, theyre kind of like a band-aid almost, they don't really "fix" the underlying cause. I can't wrap my head around why that doesn't seem to be more of an issue in the prescribing process. 

 

I never really thought about all drugs being legal at some point, cassie. I definitely want to read that book! from what I've read about speed so far is that it came to popularity in the 90's at the perfect moment- when public education was shifting in unprecedented ways and drug advertising restrictions became more lenient. I think there's been debate over which actually came first, adhd or ritalin. Did you know the company that produces vyvanse is trying to get it approved as a treatment for binge eating disorder? I got really sad when I heard about it. I think that relates to what you were saying about cultural demands and drug marketing.  

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Marissa, that really scares me that the medical field doesn't understand the long term effects of long term use and/or abuse of Adderall. It makes me so mad, they just "up the dose" like it's no big deal. "You'll be fine" and it's not like it's highly addictive or anything… NOT. Adhd meds really don't fix any underlying problems or causes like you said, kind of like Xanax.

I cannot believe (well, actually I can) the Vyvanse company wants to use it for binge eating disorder now. Tomorrow they will be like it also cures cancer. Yes it does not make one hungry but it also has a lot of terrible side effects like depression, anxiety, OCD, personality change, alcohol addiction and more, just to name a few. And that's so ironic since that article, Cassie posted yesterday links ADHD meds to obesity. It's like take this Adderall when your a child and then you become an adult with obesity then your doctor puts you on Vyvanse for binge eating disorder? This shit is just getting too confusing and too out of hand. News flash, every kid in the world has "ADHD" they are naturally hyper and bouncing off the walls, thats just how kids are. They have tons of energy. I honestly think doctors made ADHD meds just to chill out children then adults caught on. Even though I know it was created to use in war.
 
I'm pretty embarrassed to admit this but I watch Pretty Little Liars, my little sister got me into this lame ass show for High Schoolers haha. I don't really watch it for the plot but for the fashion. The girls are literally supposed to be in High School but they go to school in full makeup, hair and dressed as if they work for Diane Von Furstenberg. I also watch Nashville and in the last month on both shows, a girl character has started taking Adderall for "energy" and becomes addicted and bad things start to happen to them. It's kind of crazy how mainstream this drug is and the effects it has on people and a lot of the public are aware of it but still doctors don't do anything about it and still write scribes. It really saddens me. At the end of the day, I know it's my fault I got into this mess and started, not only taking but abusing this drug but at the same time, I still feel like a victim. Like I was helpless. The perfect target. Adderall to me was Lois Lane to Superman. And I'm glad we broke up but my heart, body and mind is still somewhat broken. Adderall left a lot of scars and unhealed wounds, we all have to deal with now or "if you ignore them, they become triggers."

It really worries and angers me that 3 months being clean off this shit, I'm still feeling like shit. And still will for like a year or so. I don't even take it anymore but I'm still having to deal with the repercussions.
I feel like I'm a caterpillar in a cocoon, just waiting to become a beautiful butterfly.

I feel weak and tired all the flipping' time. Don't get me wrong, I feel great at the same time, way happier and free and in control of my feelings more but way lazier. Unproductive, I get stuff done but I'm still in a fog. I'm happier but my mind is still in the clouds and not clearly thinking. I sleep 12 hours a night. It's a give and take, really. And it's starting to wear on me to put this recovery/healing process first because everything else is 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place on my list of things to do… I almost wish I never took Adderall to begin with so I wouldn't know what it feels like to have super powers, ever lasting energy, not have to sleep and be hungry. I still feel hunger all the time as well and I hate it.

Sorry I am venting.

I just have to keep truckin' and trying and living. Keep healing, thinking positivity and looking forward. Adderall is not an option, question or answer for me anymore. It is a big fuck you. I honestly want to make an Adderall voodoo doll and poke it with hundreds of pins but I think I will channel this frustration into something more positive like making art. I always believe good comes from something bad so the good from this is I'm still alive and I am stronger now. I know I can never take stimulants, besides coffee.

Thank you guys for being here for me and listening.

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SweetC, that was a really honest and inspiring post.  I just didn't feel like clicking the like button was enough to let you know how much I enjoyed that read. :)

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It's definitely infuriating, the whole thing. I'm no expert by any means so it's hard to say what the medical community knows or doesn't know, but from experience alone it certainly seems that there is a lack of information. I've spent countless nights, my heart pounding, my mind racing with paranoid thoughts, wondering "when is my heart going to give out?" "is this killing me and I don't know it?" "Can I ever get my brain back?", searching the internet for answers. I never found answers, never found any sort of information that was helpful, except for this site (that's how I found this site!). 

 

I spent all year feeling like a victim. Hating, regretting, wishing. I just reread one of my papers from two semesters ago about adderall and it was overwhelming angry, in a weird academic way. After being on this site and reflecting on my use I'm still angry, but more at peace. I think I'm starting to accept where I'm at, realize that I played a complacent role in all of it, and feel content that I know better now (or know a great deal more than I did). I've realized I can't change what is happening in society, but I can try, and until then I can change it for myself. I've always thought that pain is meaningful and this experience only furthers that notion to me. There's a lot that I would never know (in every sense) had I never taken Adderall. 

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Marisa - my addiction started with a prescription and the only reason I started taking my friends is because I outed myself to my doctor and did not want to doctor shop. Addiction is addiction no matter what it is. I spent the first year of my addiction thinking I was different then the meth, heroin, and coke addicts. I also was not like the drunks I was different than the homeless guy with a bottle of booze or the heroin addicts that overdosed with a needle but finally I realize that

I am that person I just come in a different package. I know that it will kill or destroy

Me if I continue and what's sad 99 percent of people I know would be shocked that I am an addict. I now have sympathy for all addicts in every form..

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SweetC, that was a really honest and inspiring post.  I just didn't feel like clicking the like button was enough to let you know how much I enjoyed that read. :)

 

yah triple like  

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I am with Cassie on drugs being drugs whether they come from the street or the pharmacy. For me the first time I tried adderall was from a friend, and I took it occasionally in college during finals or to write papers. But the addiction for sure only started after college when I got my own prescription and became reliant, dependent, and addicted.

 

There was a recent NYT (I think, maybe it was Time) article where a doctor was speaking out against the overprescription of stimulants. A lot of doctors will say addiction is rare. This doctor said point blank, "Addiction is not rare. It is common." And that's true whether you've got a prescription or not.

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It's crazy how potent this drug is.  To be honest with all of you, seven years ago I walked away from a hellish existence as an iv meth and heroine user.  I'm a professional, single mom now and I thought Adderall would help me "get ahead" in my profession since I'm starting so late in the game.  three weeks using this medication "as prescribed" and it flipped my world upside down.  It felt like meth addiction all over again and actually caused me to make mistakes at work.  I had tunnel vision and wasn't seeing the "big picture" which made it difficult to think outside of the box.  This mode of thinking in really important in my field.  Anyways,  I flushed the rest of my script last Sunday and I've been in a "funk" ever since.  I can't imagine how it would go if I continued.  I'm certain I would have lost everything.  I'm not exactly sure what the deal was, why I accepted the prescription in the first place.  It's that nagging feeling of 'I'm not good enough and "I can improve."  Well, I've actually missed work and now I'm dealing with a little depression still and a five lb weight gain.  I'm neurotic about diet and exercise naturally so 1 lb feels like 50 and my energy levels suck so exercise if very difficult.  Fuck Adderall!

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I was just thinking tonight about taking adderall "as prescribed" in relation to all the disclaimers on this site. There are definitely people out there who take it as prescribed and never think twice because they don't have to, because they are told they need it and because it helps, because it is their "medication". That's how it used to be for me but it all changed and I can never go back to that mode of thinking. I wonder if it ever really stays that way for some people? Or if the change is inevitable? I just can't imagine taking Adderall (speed) all the time and that being a lifelong, sustainable habit. 

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This ISN'T a medication anyone should be on.  I know meth, I know the way it affects your mind and soul.  I know what the withdrawal is like.  This is no different.  The only difference here is I was only taking Adderall for a couple of weeks.  It felt the same and this depression - I know this intimately.  I've worked my ass off to be healthy, happy.  I eat healthy, work out, feed myself positive affirmations.  And this stupid medication - prescribed to me by a highly educated man with a PhD, has completely thrown me off balance.  This is bullshit but I take responsibility as I should have known better.  I suspect people who take this for years and say they are fine are truly in denial because there is no way.  Maybe people who really DO have ADHD, which I believe is more rare than thought, can manage on this. 

 

Another strange thing is - the couple of weeks I was taking it are a blur - I had a friend that I no longer speak to who was prescribed this drug and took it for years. His memory was shit and he would never remember details of any conversation or experience.  This shit rots your brains out after a while.

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Maisy, I find your situation interesting for several reasons.  It is hard to immagine that only three weeks of adderall has put you in such a funk, although I am sure it is true.  Does the aftermath of adderall feel like the aftermath of meth?  How long did it take you to feel completely recovered from meth?  That was over seven years ago, right?  Yours is a cautionary tale to all of us that we must never let our guard down and that an addiction to speed requires lifetime vigilance.   I admire your wisdom for seeing the harm adderall could do to your life after only three weeks of use, "as prescribed", and your strengh to kick it so soon.  Please keep us posted on the progress of your recovery.  I have always assumed that the longer and harder one uses adderall, the more challenging and lengthy ther recovery will be.    I have seen those who used it 'as prescribed" for only 2-3 years that still have over a year of recovery.   

 

By the way, "as prescribed" is nothing more than a twisted medical justification for taking speed, helping people stay in denial about their addiction.  It still does the damage that requires a lengthy recovery even at relatively low doses.

 

Also, you are right about the memory issues.  That was one of the big reasons for me to quit, because my memory was shot and my cognition was poor.  While my memory is certainly better than it was while using, i still have bad memory days where I just can't recall things very well. 

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I read somewhere that taking Adderall for long periods of time makes people more sensitive to stimulants in some ways. I definitely notice this with coffee, coffee effects my sleep and my heart rate more than it should, even when I don't take Adderall. Maybe taking Adderall for those three weeks was a similar thing for you because of your previous meth use? I might be talking nonsense, just thinking out loud. 

 

The memory thing really scares me. I wonder how much damage I've done to my brain and what I can get back. 

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I've always thought that drugs are drugs, whether you get them on the street or from a pharmacy. All illegal drugs were legal at one point and used for 'medicine.' So i never deluded myself into thinking prescription speed was less dangerous or addictive than street drugs. When i quit my mind went to all kinds of justifications though. Like maybe i really have add and i need speed. I just pushed through those thoughts and recognized them as the addiction talking. Reading the book 'On Speed' put this topic in perspective, the marketing of amphetamines throughout history and how the diagnoses change over time to suit the culture.

 

With regard to myself I may or may not fall within the definition of ADD or ADHD, but in the final analysis this question is irrelevant. Even if I have a condition like that, the fact is that amphetamine while somewhat effective does more harm then good, and it's a bull-in-the-china-shop solution to a condition that is not insurmountable.

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Maisy, I find your situation interesting for several reasons.  It is hard to immagine that only three weeks of adderall has put you in such a funk, although I am sure it is true.  Does the aftermath of adderall feel like the aftermath of meth?  How long did it take you to feel completely recovered from meth?  That was over seven years ago, right?  Yours is a cautionary tale to all of us that we must never let our guard down and that an addiction to speed requires lifetime vigilance.   I admire your wisdom for seeing the harm adderall could do to your life after only three weeks of use, "as prescribed", and your strengh to kick it so soon.  Please keep us posted on the progress of your recovery.  I have always assumed that the longer and harder one uses adderall, the more challenging and lengthy ther recovery will be.    I have seen those who used it 'as prescribed" for only 2-3 years that still have over a year of recovery.   

 

By the way, "as prescribed" is nothing more than a twisted medical justification for taking speed, helping people stay in denial about their addiction.  It still does the damage that requires a lengthy recovery even at relatively low doses.

 

Also, you are right about the memory issues.  That was one of the big reasons for me to quit, because my memory was shot and my cognition was poor.  While my memory is certainly better than it was while using, i still have bad memory days where I just can't recall things very well. 

For sure my situation is interesting - story of my life.  I think the exposure to heavy drugs in my past has made me ultra vigilant when it comes to my brain chemistry.  I was thinking about it, and I've come to the conclusion that proper brain health and a healthy, natural supply of neurotransmitters is sooooo important. 

 

As for the amount of time it took to recover from heavy drug addiction - that is a loaded question.  Physically, it took about a year.  Psychologically - I'm still growing up - on an accelerated basis.  diet and exercise is really important.  Because of what I've overcome - I think anything is possible once someone makes there mind up.  And - the human brain is super flexible and if we give it what it needs and are patient - shit will work out.

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For sure my situation is interesting - story of my life. I think the exposure to heavy drugs in my past has made me ultra vigilant when it comes to my brain chemistry. I was thinking about it, and I've come to the conclusion that proper brain health and a healthy, natural supply of neurotransmitters is sooooo important.

As for the amount of time it took to recover from heavy drug addiction - that is a loaded question. Physically, it took about a year. Psychologically - I'm still growing up - on an accelerated basis. diet and exercise is really important. Because of what I've overcome - I think anything is possible once someone makes there mind up. And - the human brain is super flexible and if we give it what it needs and are patient - shit will work out.

Sorry - my grammar in the above post is pretty shitty - I am aware of that.

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  diet and exercise is really important

I view recovery as a table top supported by four strong legs.  My friend, HANS:

 

Hydration

Activity

Nutrition

Sleep

 

I still struggle in getting ample hydration and adequate exercise.

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If Adderall were causing such problems (long-term) for everyone, why is it that this is the only forum?  Why aren't more folks complaining to their doctor (and doctor finally getting sick of hearing their complaints recommends switching to non-stimulant?).  Maybe because they changes are so subtle, over time that people don't realize what is happening?  Or is the drug actually not effecting everyone the same way (being that our brains are all different and would therefore respond differently to the same drug?).

 
All that said, the animal research on amphetamines is compelling and scary (in more ways than one).
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I guess I don't understand, if all people on this site (and elsewhere) are reporting such horrible side effects from both long and short term use, why this drug would still be taken by people at all (or why it would have ever gotten and continued to be approved for that matter).

 

It makes me wonder if this drug might actually do more good than harm -- for some folks (I realize this isn't what many people here might believe or want to believe).

 

The truth is that as much as we are the same, our bodies and brains are all different and we have had different life experiences (before and after starting the drug), so it is hard to generalize.

 

I'm not really sure how much of a problem Adderall was until my doctor prescribed me Vyvanse - which (for some unknown reason) pushed me over the edge into psychosis. Why Vyvanse?  My doctor at the time was into "trying new things," and Vyvanse was the latest "wonder drug" for ADHD/ADD.

 

I know she wasn't trying to f* up my brain (drugs can sound really good on paper and her intentions were in fact good) but that is in effect what happened.

 

After taking (low end typical dose - 20 mg?) Vyvanse for just one month, I think my brain was severely altered, and even taking Adderall at my former dose was TOO MUCH.  I tapered down on my own but not before serious damage done to my career, relationships, etc from the changes the medications caused to my brain.

 

She apologized, but it really was kind of irresponsible of her, in fact, and led me to believe that doctors should be on some of these prescriptions THEMSELVES prescribing them to their patients (a la Jonas Salk).

 

The same doctor prescribed Paxil to me (depression either to the lowered amphetamine dose or the natural side effects of depressing life changes secondary to amphetamine induced brain changes), and I experienced "brain zaps" (in extraordinarily clinically imprecise language).  I reported this to her and she didn't believe me (yes, dear doctor, I make these things up just for my own amusement).

 

It's really amazing how clueless they can be.  

 

Full disclosure - I work in the pharmaceutical industry, but have NEVER worked on a trial supporting development of a psych drug, and my perception of trials in this discipline (MUCH more than ANY other therapeutic area) is that drug developers are basically grasping at straws and throwing darts at a board in terms of any real substantive information (and yes, some of these developers ARE in for the quick buck much more than finding truly helpful medicines - not that difficult to distinguish), and if you think about how much is unknown about the brain, this does make sense.

 

The medical community sometimes "poo-poohs" online forums as "unscientific", and there is no doubt that (however wonderful and useful a forum might be), they are not the same as a randomized, double-blind trial (run by ETHICAL investigators and staff members) testing efficacy and safety of one treatment vs. another (no offense, but how do you know who is for real vs. not?) , but if the same complaints are seen again and again - wouldn't (shouldn't) the "experts safeguarding public health" (yes, FDA, that means you!) start to take notice??

 

If Adderall were causing such problems (long-term) for everyone, why is it that this is the only forum?  Why aren't more folks complaining to their doctor (and doctor finally getting sick of hearing their complaints recommends switching to non-stimulant?).  Maybe because they changes are so subtle (ie: dissimilar to "brain-zaps"), over time that people don't realize what is happening?  Or is the drug actually not effecting everyone the same way (being that our brains are all different and would therefore respond differently to the same drug?).

 

All that said, the animal research on amphetamines is compelling and scary (in more ways than one).

 

Sorry for this long post!

I can't wait to read the responses to this one

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Note that above post was not to discount any of the realness of the negative experiences anyone posting here as had (at all).  I would be the last one to doubt you, believe me.

 

But just as not everyone might have the same favorable response to a given drug (as is seen unfortunately many times in, for example, oncology trials), not everyone would respond negatively?

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I have so many thoughts about that post weighting4better! I've been wondering the same thing for so long. Mainly though, I don't think there is such thing as "safe-guarding public health", I think this label is what allows such dangerous drugs to circulate in the first place.

 

http://psychrights.org/articles/LossOfClientAgencyAndPICC(Murray2009).pdf

 

Doctors aren't bad people, but I think they are misinformed because knowledge about medications is produced by the drug companies and reiterated as scientific facts. The harm that we've experienced from Adderall, in the scheme of it all, is an "adverse effect" to them. I read somewhere that one of the studies on rats and psychostimulants showed harmful results, and the drug companies "explanation" for it was that the study was flawed: the rats being tested were not ADHD rats, they were normal rats. ADHD rats, they argued, wouldn't have been harmed by medication. It's all interpretation, masked by the authority of scientific truth. 

 

I know this sounds conspiracy-ish but there are no definitive "biological markers" for any psychiatric illness even though it's repeatedly suggested. That's not to say that these illnesses or problems aren't real and that they don't effect people, to me that means that these problems are not products of our neurological wiring they are products of our environment and culture. About 65% of the task force for the DSM V is directly connected to the pharmaceutical industry. The psychiatric field and the pharmaceutical industry are co-dependent, they support one another and need each other. So these drugs that are coming out are not in the interest of public health they are in the interest of the industries/fields that introduce them to the public. 

 

Sorry for the long post. I feel weird making sweeping statements like this. Maybe Adderall does work for people, maybe it's not harmful to them and never will be, I'm not sure about anything really. But I think the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry, policy-makers, and psychiatrists is incredibly dangerous. 

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I view recovery as a table top supported by four strong legs.  My friend, HANS:

 

Hydration

Activity

Nutrition

Sleep

 

I still struggle in getting ample hydration and adequate exercise.

Quit-once,

Thanks for the kind words above, glad you liked that post I made above. I didn't get much sleep the night before I posted that so I was a little emotional.

But about drinking more water… I suggest getting a waterbottle 72oz (which is the recommended amount of water one is supposed to drink a day) -- you can get one for less than $3 from Walmart and try to make it a goal to drink the entire thing everyday. That is what I do!

 

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=72oz+waterbottle&id=3F35A0ECA25305284782BB85286BBDB4C9A56788&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=3F35A0ECA25305284782BB85286BBDB4C9A56788&selectedIndex=0

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