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I found this online in another forum a while ago and recovered it recently. I've put it in the announcements because it feels more like a "sticky" than a discussion doc or question or personal tale. I found it really accurate. Hope it's helpful.

Stage 1 of Amphetamine Use - During this stage, amphetamine will be at its hedonic peak; the pleasure of taking amphetamine will not get any higher from this point on. The most notable feelings are a "lovey" feeling, powerful euphoria, increased motivation, deep philosophical thinking, strong feelings of "lust", etc.

Length of phase: 1-3 days with binge usage; 5-10 days with daily usage; About 5-15 uses total if used sparingly with atleast several days inbetween doses.

Characteristic Effects of this Stage:

- Powerful euphoria

- Empathy and socialability

- Overwhelming amount of increased motivation

Stage 2 of Amphetamine Use - During this stage, the "lovey" and empathetic feelings of amphetamine quickly fade, although the "pleasurable" feelings of euphoria and increased motivation are still present. The decrease in empathetic feelings is likely responsible from a depletion of serotonergic vesicles. Most users note that it is impossible to transition back to "Stage 1" at this point, no matter how long of a break a person takes from amphetamine. This suggests that a permanent tolerance develops for the empathetic effects of the drug - whether this occurs from a psychological acclimation to the effects, or from physiological reasons, I don't know. This is the stage which doctors aim for when prescribing amphetamine for medicinal use with ADD and ADHD. This stage can be prolonged for quite some time (and if the dose is low enough, some medical professionals say that this phase can be prolonged indefinitely) this is assuming of course that the user continuously maintains an adequate amount of high quality sleep (7+ hours a night), proper nutrition, and a non-sedentary lifestyle.

Length of Stage: 1-7 days with binge usage (note that binge usage is defined by immediately taking another dose once the effects of one dose wear off or begin to wear off, interrupting sleep in the process). 2 Weeks to 6+ Months if used daily (and maintaining a healthy lifestyle). Indefinitely if used sparingly (with 3-5+ days inbetween uses).

Characteristic Effects of this Stage:

- Increased Motivation

- Slight Euphoria

Stage 3 of Amphetamine Use, the "Tool" phase - At this point, most if not all empathetic effects of usage have diminished. This point is characterized by the fact that amphetamine becomes the sole motivator for tasks, hence the nickname "The Tool Phase" because amphetamine is now used as a Tool for accomplishment. The negative physiological effects (the "body load") become more prominent.

Length of Stage: At this point, it is hard to define the length it will take to transition from one stage to the next. Some users will find that if they take breaks from their usage or just lower their dose, they can go backwards to earlier stages. Some binge users may even rapidly progress through the stages, possibly even skipping to the final ones or developing psychosis.

Characteristic Effects of this stage:

- Period of 'positive effects' and period of 'negative effects' from taking a dose begin to merge. (usually, if negative effects are present they only follow after the positive effects wear off)

- The user needs amphetamine to stay at/above a baseline level of motivation, and when amphetamine is not in effect the user is below a baseline level of motivation.

-In order for a task to be done effeciently, the user finds that they need to be on amphetamine.

- The level of euphoria decreases to a point where it is no more significant than the level of euphoria which most people get from daily life without amphetamine.

Stage 4 of Amphetamine Use, "The Decline" - The efficiency of amphetamine as a "Tool" begins to drop significantly, and this stage is characterized by the "comedown" (the period of negative effects after the drug begins to wear off) becoming much stronger. The "comedown" may even begin to merge in with the period of positive effects. At this point, the body load may begin to become painful.

Characteristic Effects of this Stage:

- Painful body load (Muscle Pain, High Blood Pressure, Inadequate Circulation, Dehydration, Malnutrition, deterioration of the skin and other tissues, etc).

- Depression

- Severe Anxiety

Stage 5 of Amphetamine Use, The Procrastination - This Stage may or may not be experienced by amphetamine users. In this stage, the positive effects of amphetamine are almost absent if not completely gone, and the "coming up" of a dose of amphetamine is subsequently followed by an immediate barrage of negative effects (both physiological and psychological). The reason this phase is called "The Procrastination" is because the user forgets how unbearable the negative sensations are (due to amphetamine compromising the brain's ability to efficiently make memories, especially goal-orientated memories); by the next day, even though the user may have told himself to not take amphetamine, he takes amphetamine again anyways (due to the brain not being able to make a goal-orientated memory, the brain was unable to produce counter-motivation to stop the user from taking more amphetamine the next day). This might possibly be the most psychologically painful and strenuous phase for the amphetamine user, since he is unable to figure out why he keeps taking amphetamine even though he clearly knows it only causes him pain.

Characteristic Effects:

- Repeatedly taking amphetamine despite knowledge that it no longer gives the desired effects, and only causes negative effects.

Stage 6 of Amphetamine Use, Irritability and Pessimism - This phase is characterized by extreme irritability. The user begins forgetting the drug is responsible for his negative feelings, and begins to blame things in the environment around them instead. The user begins to think that other people are responsible for how poorly he/she feels. The user might show hostility, or social withdrawal. The user also begins to develop an extremely pessimistic attitude towards life.

Characteristic Effects of this Stage:

- Acute Depression

- Severe Anxiety

- Irritability, even when the drug is out of the user's system

- Psychosis

- Inability to Sleep

- Severe Restlessness

- lack of willpower

- Inability to find "the right choice of words"

- Obsessive Thinking

Stage 7 of Amphetamine use, Nihilism and Dissociation - During this phase, incidences of psychosis begin to emerge (if they haven't already) even if the drug user has been maintaining an adequate amount of sleep. The user usually becomes nihilistic, thinking that nothing in life matters or has meaning. Some users may even become solipsistic, which means they think that they are the only things which are real in the world. Solipsism is often accompanied by paranoia, or thinking that others only have the intention of harming the solipsistic individual. If the user had obtained any philosophical or metacognitive methods of thinking during the earlier stages of amphetamine use, those same metacognitive methods begin to eat away at the person's psyche. They feel as if they are helpless to do anything besides sit back and watch their mind become unravelled. Even if the user realizes that his irritable attitude towards other people isn't how he truly feels, he is unable to manage his irritability (most likely due to a complete diminishment of serotonin, as well as the brain's ability to make memories being compromised). The individual's ego may begin to deconstruct itself, and the user may have a feeling that they completely lack any willpower to do anything. This stage is also accompanied by a large amount of confusion.

Characteristic Effects of this stage:

- Confusion

- Paranoia

- Unbearable Depression and Anxiety

- Delusions

- Increased Incidences of Psychosis

- Increasingly Painful Body Load

- Lack of willpower

- Cognition become confusing and incoherent. Users often claim things like their mind is "too loud", "jumping to false conclusions", or "doesn't make sense" and the user feels helpless to control this.

- Panic Attacks become very prominent

- Feelings of Deja Vu

- If weight loss was experienced in beginning stages, it may come to a hault or even reverse into weight gain

- Inability to experience pleasure

- Akathisia

- Feelings that an individual no longer has "free will"

- Difficult to form coherent sentences and speak properly. Similar to "Clanging" or "Word Salad" experienced in schizophrenics.

Stage 7b "Letting Go / Giving Up" - This stage is not always experienced, but in some instances after the user has experienced an excruciating and unbearable amount of anxiety and mental stress, he may experience a period of "Letting Go" in which the brain gives up on constructing/maintaining its deluded psychological structures. The negative effects of the drug temporarily fade, and the user has a "moment of peace". This temporary phase usually only lasts several hours (if not less) before the user returns to phase 7. Since the brain during this phase has completely abandoned any attempts to make goal orientated behaviour, the user may find it difficult (or simply not want to) to take care of themselves. However, during this phase, the user will find that they will actually be able to get to sleep, and they should take advantage of this temporary somnia to get sleep. I do not know what neurological mechanisms are responsible for this phase; it is almost as if it is the brain's last resort - to enter a careless and stressless stupor. Perhaps the brain releases endorphins in response to the unbearable anxiety?

Characteristic Effects:

- Stupor

- Irresponsiveness

- Carelessness

- Ironically, if effects of "word salad" or "clanging" were experienced in stage 7, they are no longer as present in stage 7b.

Stage 8, "The Stupor", Brain Damage - In this stage, amphetamine no longer gives effects, and the brain's desire for taking amphetamine (even if taking it has become a habit) begins to drop. As long as amphetamine use continues, the user makes no progress towards recovery of any sort. The individual is unresponsive and disconnected. Amphetamine has a tendency to make the user put too much effort into anything/everything, and this gives the brain not a single moment of psychological "rest" (where the individual doesn't think deeply). However, during this phase, it is quite the opposite - the individual's mind is in a prolonged state of resting and won't even follow through with the very act of thinking if the thought takes too much effort to think. During this phase, the user may have a steep decline in intelligence.

Characteristic Effects:

- Prolonged episodes of stupor and carelessness

- Lethargy

- Diminished Intelligence and mental efficiency

- Irreversible Psychological Damage

- Possible brain damage

- The individual may develop a "permanent stuttering" which persists even after amphetamine has long since been ceased.

- In a similar way that the stuttering develops, an individual may develop a possible permanent difficulty talking, using correct grammar and sentence structure, or expressing thoughts to others. In severe cases, this may even resemble a schizophrenic's clanging or word salad.

- Essentially, the mind at this point is irreversibly compromised. The user's personality might have changed permanently. The individual may be much more easily irritated for the rest of his/her life. Cognitive functioning will never work the same as it used to. Although the user may make improvements and greatly recover, it will almost always seem like something "isn't right" in the mind, or that something is "missing". Individuals will still be able to lead fulfilling lives, and some may make amazing recoveries where they feel normal again like they did before they ever began using. Unfortunately, in severe cases, the individual may never be the same again.

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Right now I'm in the worst part of physical detox and feel pretty bad - I need to read this again (and again) once the dopesick wears off. Thank you for posting.

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It is only unavoidable if you do not quit. I graduated from stage four and that was all I could handle of this god-awful addiction..

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Hmm.. I definitely made it into stage 7a/b. It was by far the darkest time in my life. What a great reminder of where that path leads.

Paradoxically, I did gain weight during that stage, and now it's coming off.

I also haven't been sleeping as well as I was. I keep wondering why, and if it has something to do with quitting. Stage 7b, the idea that my brain was so burned out I was producing extra sleep chemicals to rest before returning to hell, makes a lot of sense..... I used to have very long, comatose sleep sessions. I kinda miss those. (Edit: Wait, did I just say that I miss being in stage 7b? HELL NO!)

But, I wonder how long until this gets better. Anyone else have this experience?

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I wonder.... Maybe it's time to start exercising like crazy. It's pretty much the only solution I can see.

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MFA,

You quit Ambien right around the same time as adderall, right? I'd be willing to bet your body is dealing with withdrawal from that as well. Good for you for kicking both right away. I'm not looking forward to withdrawals from klonopin, after my doctor and I discuss tapering, because insomnia is a definite side effect.

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Good point, Ashley. I quit ambien about 2 months after adderall. I am still adjusting I think. I find it really hard to get to sleep at night, and then usually wake up about 3 or 4 am for 30 mins or so before going back to sleep again. Sometimes I am just awake but exhausted and agitated from 3am till sunrise, and then I will drop back to sleep about 15 mins before I'm supposed to get up.

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Stage 6 for me - now that I can look back with some degree of clarity. Thanks for the memories!

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What a powerful reminder of how bad it was. I remember experiencing solipsism in stage 7 so much....I was so messed up. Beyond belief..I could go into stories of how I behaved in solipsism but just so embarrassing.

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WOW! This is such an eye-opener! Thank you for posting this. I was definitely in Stage 7a/b before. I was in stage 7A I believe, right before I chose to quit for good. I'm only 9 days clean so far and it's been hard but stuff like this is great motativation to never want to go back... I can relate to the "being so angry at the world and blaming all the people around you for feeling like this...feeling like shit" part so much. I was stuck in that state of mind for like the last 6 months to a year of my life and didn't know why. But I knew why the entire time. Too scared to stop, too scared to get fat and lazy and lack of motivation but enough is enough already. I pick no more stuffering. I want to love and life again.

 

My OCD negative thoughts, anixiety, and depression were getting so bad, my doc put me on zoloft and I've never been depressed before in my life nor is it in my family history. I honestly blame myself and the adderall for it. Hopefully I can get off the zoloft soon too.

 

Thanks again!

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Okay, so, you have outlined the progression of amphetamine use/abuse pretty accurately, I think. What I like most about your outline is that you capture the transition--from deriving feelings of "euphoria" and the like, to experiencing exclusively negative symptoms such as irritability, isolation, delusions of invincibility, etc. 

 

The feelings outlined here are all ones that I have experienced, at least in some capacity. I think your description of cognitive dissonance in step 8 is...effective. When I say effective, I mean that adderall appeals to the inexperienced user for the initial sensations described here. Your description in step 8 is certainly a convincing deterrent to those early in the use/abuse process. 

 

Your step 8 is also very, very demoralizing, and quite frankly, your scientific references are unprecedented. You are right that amphetamines increase feelings of motivation ten-fold, and it is not until the brain has completely exhausted its capacity for dopaminergic signaling that we may feel depleted, as described in 7b. In other words, adderall increases the store of dopamine (responsible for reward-oriented behavior), norepinephrine (responsible for concentration, along with cognitive alertness via dopamine transmission), along with other neurotransmitters. Taken in large doses for a long period of time, like any other drug, adderall loses its efficacy. The brain is unable to synthesize normal levels of dopamine because prolonged abuse exhausts the store of dopamine in the brain. This is the major theory behind the decline of motivation in speed abusers: too much of a good thing starts to be a bad thing. Our brains are equipped with feedback mechanisms that either expedite or slow biological processes. Once the brain has reached "threshold" and dopamine levels become too high, it compensates by depleting levels of dopamine to maintain baseline. If we did not have this neurological threshold, we'd all be out of our minds. But the brain is also highly plastic, and we know now we can still form new synaptic connections, strengths in areas of the brain that may be weakened; we can continue to grow and change.

 

What I take issue with is not the misuse of the scientific basis. Rather, the way you describe a person's decline suggests that he/she could never recover (potentially), or in your words "never be the same again." 

 

First, this is wrong. We are infinitely evolving humans, on scales large and small. Evolutionarily, we adapted these neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, etc) because they were (and are) essential to our survival. Particularly dopamine, which evolutionarily functioned as a means for our brains to communicate: "get it". When I say get it, I don't mean "wanting it" but rather "needing it". The difference between the two is huge. As primal creatures, we see food (the stimulus), and do whatever we can to procure it (the reward). The downfall here is we cannot use our primal instincts as a justification for abusing drugs, as speed increases dopamine beyond levels we are even equipped to deal with neurologically. This reward-seeking behavior becomes incorporated into our self-concept and into the way we see and approach the world. 

 

You are right that drug abuse can irrevocably change a person. Once we come to rely on a pill to define us, we will never return to the person we were prior to ever picking up. Having said that, to presume that amphetamine abuse can create a permanent void in a person is failing to address an essential part of recovery: spirituality.

 

We can and do recover. Do yourself a favor--no matter what "stage" you see yourself in, no matter if you believe you will never return to normal cognitive functioning or you're just beginning to use adderall and think you are impervious to its effects--no matter what you used, for how long; no matter where you came from or who you knew, no matter what: the details are irrelevant. An addict is an addict is an addict, and each addict is bound by the disease of addiction. My guess is anyone who frequents this website is, by nature: competitive, self-interested, compulsive, obsessive, sensitive, and has never "felt right in their own skin." I know before I had descended into adderall world, I was smoking weed 3xday every day. Before that, I had abstained from using drugs for many, many years. I claimed I just "wasn't into it" but it is only now, in my recovery, that I can say I didn't pick up because somehow I knew I would not be able to put it down. At age 5, I was pulling tiny pieces from my blanket and shoving them up my nose. For no reason in particular other than it felt good to me at the time, so I kept doing it. This is the pattern in all addicts, that we cannot stop; that we are powerless over our disease, that our lives have become unmanageable. Do yourself a huge favor and attend your local Narcotics Anonymous meeting.

 

NA saved, and continues to save, my life. 

 

There aint no difference between an "adderallic," an "addict" or a "junkie." Life awaits you, but you cannot do it alone.

 

more will be revealed. 

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Great post!

I made it thru all the stages and into the last one (8)- thankfully that all ended 12 months ago. I am still physically, spiritually and mentally recovering.

I was taken back by the information on "word salad", this was the exact term I used when trying to tell others that something was definitely wrong inside my head. I had learned that term in a psychology class but did not know it was related to schizophrenia, I had been told it was due to brain injury. Scares me looking back at that time and piecing together info now about what was really happening to me.

Thanks for posting this, it is very informative.

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wow! im transitioning between stage 2-3. I would never think this pill can cause this much trouble for people or me if i dont stop! I dont notice a difference with my life with the pill so far but i guess im not that deep in the process i have been taking 15mg a day where i split a 30mg in half and even though i take more now i still have to split the pill,ew paranoia. This has been the most helpful post out there thank you, reading about what you willingly and purposely did to your body,brain and life throughout years kind of makes me never ever want to reach stage 3. The most thing thats puzzling me is the fact that everyone here is incredibly superrrr smart how can a pill take this much control??!! 

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Addicts are not idiots. Have you ever heard the analogy of boiling a frog? It's like that.

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wow! im transitioning between stage 2-3. I would never think this pill can cause this much trouble for people or me if i dont stop! I dont notice a difference with my life with the pill so far but i guess im not that deep in the process i have been taking 15mg a day where i split a 30mg in half and even though i take more now i still have to split the pill,ew paranoia. This has been the most helpful post out there thank you, reading about what you willingly and purposely did to your body,brain and life throughout years kind of makes me never ever want to reach stage 3. The most thing thats puzzling me is the fact that everyone here is incredibly superrrr smart how can a pill take this much control??!!

addiction hijacks your brain so that the reward response of taking the drug overrides logic. It has nothing to do with your intelligence level. Anyone can become an addict given the right circumstances. It's a natural instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
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I was solidly in step 6 maybe starting 7. It gives me hope that I wasn't the worst one out there. How very selfish of me but I quit 5 days ago so I'm still self absorbed. Off to NA I go!

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Does anyone else feel they have been unfortunate enough to make it to stage 8?

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I feel like I'm in stage 6, the end of stage 6. Any longer and I would be at 7, which is scary. I've made the choice to quit. Wish me luck!

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BigBeezy,

I'm glad to hear you've decided to quit before it gets worse. How are you feeling?

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It's great to see you are almost done with the 30 day challenge. Way to go!

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It's posts like these that are exactly what I need.  The notion of quitting does scare me quite a bit, but not quitting is just terrifying.  Thank you for this.

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