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AddaGirl

How Can This Possibly Be 8 Years Later?

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I am an extreme "over-abuser" of Adderall. I started taking Adderall in 2009, two months after moving to Manhattan.  My initial dosage was 20 mg/day (two 10 mg tabs).  I ultimately was upped to a dose of 80 mg/day (eight 10 mg tabs).  I say it gave me the best years of my life.  I worked at one of the top academic medical centers in the country, and was promoted four times in less than four years, won awards, and for awhile, enjoyed a reputation of being one of its top rising stars.  My weight in the first year plummeted to 105 pounds (the smaller the better in that world).  I remember how happy I was; things in the world seemed to make sense in a way that they never had before.  My thoughts were bright and vivid --- it almost seemed that my body had become a conduit for channeling the unstoppable energy of the city itself.  I worked seven days a week two years straight.  I seemed to want to push myself to accomplish more and more, so started sleeping less and less.  Eventually, I was pulling at least two all-nighters during the week, and sometimes wouldn't sleep from Friday all the way till the early hours of Monday morning -- enough time for a quick nap, and jet back into the office.  Hindsight being what it is, I was naive to the reality of the big picture.  The lack of sleep impacted the quality of my work, as well as my emotional stability.  But I was living in a very narrowed scope, equating long hours to being equal to accomplishment.  Truth of the matter, sitting alone in my office at midnight, trying to finish up some project that needed to be submitted on a tight deadline.......I would agonize for hours over the structure of one sentence.  Or become obsessed with cleaning, where it felt like life-or-death to reorganize a desk drawer at 3 in the morning.  I am guilty of "doc-shopping".  I had two docs writing me scripts.  Which happened, quite honestly, by accident.  I had a psychiatrist that I saw who specialized in treatment of ADD.  And then I had a provider who I saw weekly for psychotherapy.  He was the one who doled out my Prozac.  When I went through a particular rough patch summer of 2011, he suggested adding Adderall for treatment of depression.  As long as I toggled pharmacies, and paid cash, I was in the clear.  (Sidenote, this is no longer possible in New York, with their new "iStop" system).  I was taking upwards of 160 to 200 mg per day, of the immediate release.  I balanced that out with "downers" (Xanax and Clonopin) as a counter-balance (aka, to avoid inevitable cardiac arrest).  I would finish my monthly scripts in two weeks time, then have to go cold for two weeks.  During those dry times, I was practically narcoleptic.  I would lie and say I had meetings, just so I could shut my door and sleep on the floor of my office.  I became so emotionally numb, that I didn't even care when my professional credibility started to take a dive.  Didn't care when my anti-social behavior cost me my best friend of 20 years.  He and I will never speak again.  He's only one of a handful of important people who I lost during that time.  Having run out of excuses at work over my poor performance, I took a medical leave of absence.  Still on my up and down binge of greedily abusing my monthly prescriptions, then not being able to move till I was able to go get my next blessed refill.  No matter how many pills I took, I couldn't get that same feeling back.  Whereas previously I had felt almost embraced by my atmosphere, now all I could feel was an intense detachment to the world at large.  The Bell Jar.  I was living in a vacuum.  I eventually ended up moving away.  I went off all meds cold turkey.  Because of the intensity of my dependence, even five months later I struggled with fatigue, extreme depression, weight gain, mood swings, and in general?  I just felt stupid. I was operating at a level so much lower than when I first started out on that 20 mg daily dose.  I struggled to find a doc in my homestate who would prescribe even a minimal dose of Adderall.  So I started flying back and forth to NY, just to meet with one of my docs, and get that 80 mg daily script.  I'd intermittently be off for a few months at a time, enjoying once again the misery of withdrawal while trying to put on a proper enough facade to fool all the people around me.  (Didn't work, by the way.  My last job fired me.  So much for "rising star").  And that's where I've been for the last year and a half.........up until a few weeks ago.  I've been practically catatonic trying to comprehend the extreme trajectory of my life these past five years.  The insane climb up, and the disastrous, life-changing implosion that resulted in an overwhelming amount of loss.  My professional reputation forever tarnished. Family members and lifetime friends who are permanently erased from my life.  The embarrassment of knowing that even during the times I thought I was in control, the truth of the matter is that everyone around me knew I was an absolute wreck.  The cracks in my shell were so profoundly evident.  The only person fooled in this equation was me.  I am in the process of tapering off.  I am lucky enough to have one old friend stand by me, who somehow thinks I'm still worth putting energy into.  It was my idea, and he agreed --- he now has control of my meds, and doles out the appropriate daily dose, at the appropriate times.  The meds are in a metal box, padlocked (just hiding them isn't good enough around me).  This withdrawal process I find to be more excruciating than going cold turkey.  Because my body feels the drug in it, and when I start coming down, it starts kicking in signals to feed it more.

So I wrote the paragraphs above almost 3 years ago…. 3 very long, life-changing years ago. And man, did not think I would still be where I’m at. I wish I could say things are better……in most ways things are. I’m stable, have my own apartment, fixed my finances, great job without too much responsibility, etc. I literally started my life over from scratch, and in most ways, this is the most honest life I’ve ever led. Except for one huge exception ---- I’m back on Adderall. Found a specialist, and have been seeing her for over a year. Each month I tell myself that I’ll take my pills as prescribed, that I won’t binge on them. My life now doesn’t require that I do that. I no longer live in the “city that never sleeps”. I’m back in the very real-life pace of the Pacific Northwest, and a job that requires me to catch a bus by 5:00 a.m. So late night rallies aren’t really my thing anymore. I wish I knew why I even kept taking it. It doesn’t make me feel the same as it used to. It doesn’t really suppress my appetite (my favorite, glorified side effect), and I’m coming in at 170 pounds these days…..those times of double 00 jeans and shopping in the boys section now long gone and starting to fade. (Christ I miss being thin). I don’t abuse it as much as I used to, though I realize that doesn’t make what I do okay. But instead of 3 to 4 days of 260 mg’s a day, and keeping myself level with downers, I now maybe will take 100 - 120 mg, or double my prescribed dose. (Prescribed 60 mg daily). I’ve had some scary incidents recently with what I self-diagnosed as angina. I had all the typical signs for a woman, and it scared me shitless. I even went to the emergency room, where they didn’t give my complaints much credence. I’m 40 years old. I look younger than that. No way I’m about to have a heart attack……and I couldn’t tell them the truth, knowing once words of prescription abuse get logged in your patient chart, you’re pretty much screwed. Might as well stamp in red letters “drug seeker”, and slam the book shut. That scares me. Though I play this game in my mind where I think “does it scare you more than your life? You could die if you don’t speak up……is it worth it?”. In my right mind I’ll tell you NO, absolutely not. I don’t want to die. Not when things are going so well. It’s just this last nagging habit I can’t kick. Or am scared to kick. Why can’t I let it go? I’ve got 20 years of serious drug abuse under my belt. I’ve kicked coke, booze, pain pills, smokes……hard core use on all of them. Daily for years. And I was able to escape them, and to actually do that without really missing them. I don’t like drinking anymore, so I don’t do it. It’s not hard being around it. Same with coke and other drugs, not that I run across it anymore (I don’t have that kind of a social life). Even pain pills I don’t like. I tossed the script I was given after my last surgery because they made me so nauseous (unheard of for me). But Adderall is a whole different ballgame. I’ve never felt so in the clutches of something before….though that isn’t how it feels. What it feels like is a love affair. I LOVE my Adderall. It reminds me of those amazingly good years I had in NYC, and when I felt in control, and felt energetic and sharp, and had a banging body to go along with.  It gave me confidence. Earned me praise. And love. And I think everytime I swallow a pill, what I’m doing is just trying to regain a little bit of that…..even though it never comes. And logically/intellectually I know I can’t ever go back. Guess this is the part where you start to realize that me fantasizing/romanticing my addiction as something akin to “star-crossed lovers” is overglamorizing the reality, and probably quite telling of the fantasy world built around my need for those little blue pills. Sigh. I do feel that the end is very near. Not speaking of death (fingers crossed); but I’m starting to feel ready to let go. Writing this all down was a big step forward. I asked my doc to lower my dose, which was another huge thing. I wonder if I’ll ever be back to being me. And I wonder if that will be enough. That right there is the crux of this whole clusterfuck of a nightmare.

Thanks for listening, to all who read this to the end. I stumbled upon this website by accident, but after reading the stories on here, realized it was the only forum where I could actually honestly communicate about what was going on, and have people understand what I was talking about. Amazing how much you can hide from the people in your everyday life. No one would ever guess any of us this about me……..ever.

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Thank you for sharing your story. Welcome to the board. You ARE good enough without adderall. You really are.  Give yourself a chance to experience that again - to find the old you - she is still in there somewhere waiting to emerge.

Adderall has stopped working for you and you sound so ready to let it go. Continuing to take it when you get no benefit is not helping you in any way. I strongly believe you are prolonging pain at this point by continuing to take it - because you are already in withdrawal - and continuing this way is only prolonging the withdrawal you are experiencing. That is one thing I learned from reading here and from my own experience because it's what I did too. 

The sooner you quit for good, the sooner you will begin to feel better. Will it be the hardest thing you've ever done?  Quite possibly.  But it will be so worth it.  

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Thank you for sharing. So quit 100% for two years then got back on? Just wondering what happened after two years clean knowing how bad it fucked up your life decided to get back on it? Not asking to be judgmental asking so I know what thoughts may occurs within myself I should be cautious of going towards my second year clean. 

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Wow, my story is quite similar to yours. I also lived it up in NYC while I was abusing Adderall. Trust me, life without it is so much better. Yes, being skinny was cool, but it simply isn't worth your overall health. I am very happy I got off of it and now, 15 months later, I am living my life for good or for bad, it's real and it's all me. Fuck Adderall! You can do it, we'll be here to support you. 

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My story is very similar to yours as well - I got vivid flashbacks as I read your story. Maybe it's something about the fast paced life of manhattan that lends itself to addiction.

I just don't understand why you went back after you had escaped it?! You are just bouncing back from narcolepsy to a state of extreme alertness.

I don't understand how you could embrace it like that again. If it's to lose weight you can also lose weight with regular willpower with no adderall. 

I guess you know that it's your addiction talking. Pretty soon you won't be able to hold down a job again. You KNOW the drill. You've escaped before, and you can draw on the knowledge and experience of that the second time around. I hope you understand and remember that you have the strength and discipline and knowledge to stop this and I know that you can do it and I hope that you start right now. 

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I'm able to relate to quite a bit of your journey with Adderall (albeit not getting back on it after two years, whew!). I, too, lost one of my best friends while I was in the midst of my Adderall addiction. Just thinking about it still makes me pause and my heart to sink a bit. He was a childhood friend from about the age of 8-9 and we formed a group of friends and hung out periodically over the years (we called each other 'The Four Horseman', awesome I know). I really have fond memories of those times and regret throwing away what I had in exchange for my fix of stimulant medication. What really got me was looking on his Facebook one day and seeing his bachelor party (I didn't even know he was engaged) and there were the three others of 'The Four Horseman' there doing shots and having a great time.. without me. Looking back, it's quite obvious why I lost him as a friend. I literally just cringed thinking about some of the things I said on Facebook or through text messages we had when I was cracked out on Adderall. Thinking about that situation helps remind me what I value in life.. what truly makes life worth living and grants the path to happiness is being surrounded by people who I love to be around. It sounds sappy, and probably is, but it's true.

Why am I telling you this? Well, what do you value? Do you value being a cracked-out employee who grinds away for days at a time? It sounds like one of the things you value is being skinny, do you need Adderall for that? Is it even worth it if you socially isolate yourself with Adderall? Being off Adderall, I'm able to connect with people again. When I took Adderall in class, I thought everyone revered my intellectual prowess and admired my lightning-quick wit. After quitting Adderall and speaking with a group of friends I made (after quitting), one of them said "You know, you're pretty cool. We used to think you were a socially awkward weirdo who was kinda a kiss ass in class". I appreciated his forthrightness. 

What is it you want out of life? 

 

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I recently reconciled with my best friend since we were six years old. Things are back to normal.  Looking forward to seeing him a lot more. The whole adderall thing I went through had such an impact to him, he didn't want to speak to me anymore. He actual cried about the whole thing - i was destroying myself...and changed as a person.  I always assumed I'd be his best man at his wedding. But when he got married he didnt even make me a groomsman because my behavior was so unpredicatable and he was worried. I dont blame him - I went to his bachelor party and I remember being in a state of stimulant induced pyschosis. So depressing. My sister too didn't want to speak to me for a long time, she kept her distance. She became cold to me. It was so hurtful to her. I think it helped when I explained the whole neurotransmitter/addiction scientific process to her...but really it took time for her to be able to be normal to me again. This is depressing to talk about as I write this, I could go on about how i hurt people like my mother, but Im reliieved to say I reconciled most of my friendships, relationships. I had to approach people who saw me go through this and explain to them what was happening to me at the time and explain to them that im over it and ill never go back and reassure them. 

Those relationships are repairable after sobriety. After they've seen you can change. Enough said.

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On 7/27/2017 at 10:54 PM, Frank B said:

Thank you for sharing. So quit 100% for two years then got back on? Just wondering what happened after two years clean knowing how bad it fucked up your life decided to get back on it? Not asking to be judgmental asking so I know what thoughts may occurs within myself I should be cautious of going towards my second year clean. 

Hi there, sorry it took so long to write back. I realize my phrasing was misleading when I talked about "being back on" Adderall. Seems several people had the same question. I actually never was completely away from it. There would be maybe a couple of months in between, but I never have given it up 100%. When I said something about it being 3 years later, I should have qualified the statement to say that my usage that first year was a little inconsistent. Plus, the providers in my home state are much more cautious with what they're prescribing. No way I could find someone around here that would go back to my 80 mg daily. But into the second year (of the three I mentioned), I was back on it monthly. And actually, guess my dosage isn't too far off -- my doc just raised it to 70. 

I really congratulate you on your second year clean. I honestly believe that if you can physically get the drug out of your system, then you've won a good portion of the battle.  It's inspiration for someone like me, who is teetering on the fence. Last week, I almost called my doc to tell her that I was an abuser. That would cut off my supply pretty permanently.  I've kicked addictons before; I know what I need to do. I know I'm close to being ready to just let it go.......it's lost what it used to bring to me. I just feel so stripped down.....my confidence is just shot. In February it will be 9 years since I first started taking it. Almost 1/4 of my life. 

I'm taking steps in the right direction. 

Thank you again for your question, and for reading my post in the first place. Like I said, this forum is the only place where I can really be me. And not lie.

 

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Hi @AddaGirl. I remember reading this post when you first submitted it and just wanted to let you know that it really resonated with me. I hope we can all send you some supportive vibes that will be useful to you in your recovery journey. 

First, you're a pretty brilliant writer. You're clearly very intelligent and have an impressive way with words, albeit the content of your post is heartbreaking. I'm not surprised that you were so professionally successful during your time working in NYC. I, too, enjoyed success that I associated with Adderall (but on a much smaller scale): College. I'm 5' 5'' and weighed 105 lbs, was a cheerleader at a Top 30 school, in the best sorority on campus, and had straight As to boot. I was sure that I was Harvard Law bound, and was absolutely intoxicated by the prospect of an esteemed career/rockin' bod. I wanted power, money, fast-paced environments and respect/admiration above all else.

Sometimes I wonder if even our male, adderall-addicted counterparts can begin to understand the "thinness" allure of adderall for ambitious women. We're fundamentally taught to associate our bodies with personal and professional success, and the benefits enjoyed by thin women are difficult to ignore, especially after experiencing them yourself. I'm 160 these days after a year clean, and looking in the mirror isn't always fun. The state of my body is the one factor above all others that tempts me to use pills.

I hope this isn't rude/overstepping, but the thing that's so striking to me about your post is how confidently and aptly you discuss your problem that's so obviously fueled by insecurity. Those two parts of yourself seem so at odds. On the one hand, you have a successful career, finances in order, are clearly well-spoken, ect., but on the other hand you feel like you need pills to be okay. You are 100 percent good enough without adderall, why do you feel otherwise? I think that's the question at the crux of all of our issues, here.

I also identify with the romanticizing bit. There was something so fast-paced and exciting about speed. I loved everything when I was on it. Doing my computer programming homework felt l was curing cancer (which you were actually doing, haha) and organizing my closet felt like the task that was going to push me toward a life of brilliance. Sometimes I still miss that high. But the thing is, it's all fake. Organizing your closet isn't going to change your life, and the excitement that adderall brings you is artificial. I'm sure you know this by now.

I just wish I could hug you and send you positive vibes. Get sober with us. I want that for you really badly, and I think you want it for yourself, too. See what happens. 

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20 hours ago, Cheeri0 said:

You are 100 percent good enough without adderall, why do you feel otherwise? I think that's the question at the crux of all of our issues, here.

i can only speak for myself here, but i think many of us here can relate to this- it's probably because the level of "success" adderall delivers is incomparable to anything you've experienced thus far. to be honest, there is a period of actual success that can be had, during the honeymoon phase, but as the abuse ramps up this turns to perceived success. it rewires your brain and changes the expectations you have for yourself- because you've lived what you imagine to be the "perfect you".

i think the challenge we face, therefore, is redefining and rewiring our experience of happiness. we don't need to be THAT person again. there are many paths to happiness (:

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