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.