Hey all, I've been on this site for 6.5 years and have read many horrible stories about adderall addiction and also some amazing success stories. As you can see I've posted on this forum over 1000 times. I've been clean since Nov 13, 2010. And here is the collective wisdom I've gathered from people who successfully beat adderall addiction on this site.
Just as background I used to snort 250 mgs a day, was in and out of rehab and outpatient therapy. I had constant stimulant induced schizophrenia.
1) CUT OFF YOUR DOCTOR - this is how the successful people on this site quit. Period. Cut off your doctor. I havent come across a single person that still had access to adderall prescriptions from their doc and was able to just quit.
2) UNDERSTAND WHY YOU GOT ADDICTED ... and why you feel like shit without it. Adderall causes your brain to retain more of the neurotransmitter dopamine between the synapses or nerve endings in your brain. This artificial surplus of dopamine is what causes you to feel more motivated, the brain stops regulating dopamine on it's own properly. Your body begins to adapt to the repeated dosing of a central nervous system stimulant, causing dependence, until eventually life seems much worse without adderall. Over time, as your natural dopamine reuptake process is consistently disrupted, the body produces less and less dopamine. If the adderall is then withdrawn, the body has neither its own dopamine nor an artificial surplus of dopamine between the the brain receptors - thus the horror of withdrawal.
3. DON'T PUT PRESSURE ON YOURSELF when you quit...Stop trying to be the perfect mom, or the superstar at work, the super thin person, the social butterfly. As for working, decide if you are able to continue working or not.. I did not work for TWO + YEARS. I just spent those years on my moms couch reading recovery books, going to NA and sticking close to this site.. I had that luxury to live at home at not work (no kids to support etc) Afterwords, with help from members of this site, I fought my way back into a career...from interning at a shoe store without pay to volunteering for a couple bucks an hour to working in a college admin office for 200 bucks a month. If you don't feel like you can afford to stop working, do not try to be a superstar at work. Go through the motions, just like the author does in "Get it Done when your depressed"
4.UNDERSTAND PAWS there are many, many resources on post acute withdrawal system. Just google it. Your brain will go through PAWS. This will help you understand the depression, fatigue and all those horrible feelings that make adderall recovery horrific. https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/post-acute-withdrawal.htm
5. TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME It takes forever to feel normal again, but you get to a point where you no longer think about it anymore.
6. YOU WILL NOT BE FAT FOREVER As long as you put in discipline and willpower. After the post weight gain you will get back to normal weight. I went to 250lbs immediately post adderall and now I'm normal and thin again. Most people on this site can attest to the same.
7. STAY CLOSE TO THE FORUMS. Don't lurk here. Be engaged with the community. Helping others also helps yourself too. And keeping this place active helps everyone on this site. No one judges you on this site. There are many tools/resources/information here that can REALLY help you. Many veterans here have gone on to give interviews for national magazines and television programs about what happened to them.
8. SUPPLEMENTS that people on this site that people have found effective include: Wellbutrin and L-Tyrosine. Don't even consider swapping to Vyvance, Ritalin, or Dex. They are the same as addearll.
9. UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PROCESS TAKES FOREVER AND A DAY. It took me years and years and i still struggle. For others who were on much lower dosages than me, it still takes at least year but not as long as it did for me. As a rule of thumb, every year you abused, you need an additional year to recover. You will feel unmotivated. You will be starving all the time. You will be tired. But you are in the norm. Adderall recovery may often feel very specific to you but it is not. We all go through this or are going through this.
10. READ and read and read to educate yourself on what has happened to you - "On Speed" has been the most popular book for this site. Other books, "Get it Done When Your Depressed" "Pill Head", "More, Now, Again" , "The Amphetamine Debate" to name a few. Read the article on Richard Fees suicide that was in the NY Times. The link is below
11. WRITE DOWN all reasons why adderall messed up your life. If you ever want to start taking adderall again - READ the list and you will remember about those horrific nights 3 am on an empty stomach and feeling like complete shit. Or you'll remember the scariness of getting caught doctor shopping or you'll remember getting fired, or you'll remember the stimulant induced psychosis that made people think you were schizophrenic.
12. ALCOHOL/CAFFEINE RULE OF THUMB Most recovering adderall addicts still allow themselves to drink alcohol. This is taboo in Narcotics Anonymous but adderall veterans continue to drink without having problems. Many on here have relied on caffeine and redbull to help them. I used those high energy drinks like Rockstar and Monster. I indulge in alchohol as well.
13. GOING COLD TURKEY did not destroy anyone's brain or give them permanent brain damage. I believe xanax can do that but not adderall. Go cold turkey.
14. READ OLDER POSTS While you are on this site, read everything here bc there is tons of great advice on threads that have gotten buried. Remember this site has been active for at least 7 or 8 years so there's a lot of good information on these threads.
15. RELATIONSHIPS - Explain to the people closest to you what happened so they can better understand. Tell them how it messed up the neurochemicals in your brain. Apologize to them. Tell them it will never happen again. Assure them you are in the clear.
16. AT FIRST IT MAY SEEM EASY but it's not. In order to level set your expectations I can tell you it completely sucks. You may go through a brief phase where it seems easy and then suddenly it hits you like a brick.
16b. RECOVERY IS NOT A LINEAR PROCESS. Withdrawal symptoms hit in waves. Sometimes you will have really off days, and you can blame that on the PAWS. Some days you'll feel fine. Embrace the days you feel fine.
17. DEFEAT THE PYSCHOLOGICAL PART OF THE ADDICTION. If you are here, adderall has become a crutch in your life and taken a toll on your confidence to do things without it. Get off your feet and start doing things that you relied on adderall to get you through them. If you are as bad as me you prob relied on adderall for everything. Each time you do something without adderall you start to say "hey I dont need adderall to do this" and your confidence begins to build.
18. STREAM AND BINGEWATCH TV As you recover from withdrawal, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon prime are a godsend. They help you forget about how shitty you feel for the moments you are engrossed in your favorite shows. I have fond memories of bingewatching netflix shows as i went through the hell of withdrawal.
19. When you feel ready FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT. to get your life back into shape. I fought my ass off after I finally got off my moms couch. A lot of adderall veterans on this site would definitely remember my experience because i was on here every day, documenting every moment of my job search, my job hunt, my worries/insecurities and I got so much support and advice from this amazing community to push forward. After interning in a shoe store for no money, feeling like i was getting no where, I went back to school graduated and fought for a good job. My newly non-adderall addicted self began making over 6 figures a year. 've gotten a raise every year over the last three years and was able to give my mom 20K for not just the heartache tears and pain I caused her but to show my gratitude for her taking care of me while I recovered, and for letting me live on her couch for two years and put no pressure on me to do anything but read books.
20. ADDERALL CAUSES YOU TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR MIND ONLY. Go back and read a paper that you wrote while on adderall. You probably thought it was incredible. Now go back and re-read it. Was it really that great?? When i was in my adderall haze the success was in my grandiose thinking, in my feeling of invincibility, of being able to conquer anything but not in my reality!!! Stop romanticizing the good times when you were on adderall - they weren't that great. Realize you still have a real future to fight for. You do not want to be that person you once were, where you needed adderall to feel successful. You want to be able to feel successful because of your own merits, not because of adderall.
20. THIS ONE IS WORTH REPEATING - You will not be FAT forever once you quit!!!! There have been many threads on this and the consensus is that it GOES away as long as you try. That means it'll go away after your hunger period ends, but domake sure your consuming fewer calories than you burn or go vegeterian or whatever - exercise your willpower.
21. HELP YOUR RECOVERY ALONG. If you can afford rehab or your insurance covers rehab. Rehab helps. NA/AA meetings can help. Get an NA sponsor. Also, eating healthier, exercising, mediation etc are all things that will help. What doesn't help? being too hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Smart Recovery has also helped people on this site kick the addiction http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/toolchest.htm
22. DONT BUY INTO THE CULTURAL ACCEPTANCE OF ADDERALL -believing that makes it much harder to quit. I generally believe in my heart that ADD is a bullshit diagnosis. I can get scatterbrained and exhibit symptoms of what people consider to be ADD but I do not believe ADD is real. I believe adderall will help anyone who doesn't have ADD. I believe lots of people get scatterbrained. This mentality - and I truly believe it - has helped because believing in my heart and mind that I don't have ADD, that ADD is a bullshit diagnosis gives me zero reason to even consider taking it. Adderall used to be prescribed for depression in the 70s before the ADD diagnosis even came along. It was always a pill in search of a problem.
23 THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL It truly does get better. Your life can come together. It has to start by following these guidelines
24 YOUR PERSONALITY WILL COME BACK Whether adderall made you anti social or robotic or some nut that obsessed with unimportant thing like wasting hours reading wikipedia all day or working on project that went absolutely nowhere..you will come back to your old self.
25 YOUR HEALTH WILL COME BACK Whether it gave you health problems from clenched teeth and sleep deprivation, anxiety, or depression from when the pill wore off, or high blood pressure...your health eventually comes back.
WANT TO FAIL? Based on the hundreds of posts on this site it seems that most people who don't follow these guidelines end up relapsing. So draw on the past COLLECTIVE experiences of this long lasting forum and follow the guidelines that works. We know it works. It's that simple
Visit these links for a wakeup call
Links to Good Recovery Books
1) On Speed - Traces the history of America's obsession with amphetamines; dexadrine, ritalin, adderall etc...
2) Amphetamine Debate - Goes into the consequences of stimulant abuse, psychosis particularly with adderall and ritalin..
3) More, Now and Again - Memoir of a Writer's Addiction to Ritalin...
4) Requiem for a Dream - One of the stories subplots is a woman who gets hooked on amphetamines..
5) Get it Done When Your depressed
THAT'S all I can think of - there are tons of veterans on this site right now and its so awesome to see you all here continuing to post and help the newer people. Please chime in if I'm missing something not covered or if there is a tip you disagree with.