My story likely bears resemblance to many others told here, so forgive me for redundancy...I really just need to write this out. I have been prescribed stimulants for 10 years, abused them for the last 4-5 years. I'm in a dark, dark hole. I need to climb out. I want to WANT to climb out.
I was initially prescribed for ADHD (a neurological phenomenon I'm not entirely convinced is a valid one) when I was in high school. The drugs improved my grades tremendously, but in retrospect they had deleterious, if subtle effects on my social life from the beginning. Being on concerta initially for the first few years, I didn't experience that euphoria so sought after in using adderall - I slowly began to withdraw from my friends, and being introverted to begin with didn't help. I became focused exclusively on school; an obsession that would later haunt me (and still does).
College was really the time I remember as the 'beginning of the end'. I was completely uninterested in making friends and in going out - all I could do was work tirelessly and, because I never fully habituated to stimulants insofar as sleep, had to smoke weed nightly and was hooked on ambien to get through the night. The cocktail was not a pleasant one, and had some real effects on my clarity of mind. I thought my misery and social withdrawal were a function of my introverted personality and my priorities. The latter might have some truth, because on stimulants I am a completely one-dimensional human. Cut to my senior year of college. Any friends I had accrued over the three years were fast fading, and I only had a few people I could turn to. One of those people was someone I met my final year, who accepted me, and I her. I should have cherished that relationship more, considering my wasteland of a social life, but of course I could not lend myself fully to anything but my schoolwork. This friendship, which had tones of romance, scared me because I felt needed. And since I couldn't partition my mental or physical energy to anything or anyone, I abandoned this woman. I refused to go out and I actively ignored her for weeks.
I remember the day I first knowingly abused adderall vividly. I was so lonely, but the idea of building my life again from the ground up was too daunting and scary to fathom, so I made a conscious choice to concentrate on school. I figured, if my prescribed amount of (then vyvanse) wasn't potent enough to nullify the aching sorrow, then I should take two!
From there it was a fast progression into the relentless grip of addiction. I was taking double or triple my prescribed dose, and when the vyvanse stopped working, my doctor opted to supplement with adderall. Enter my love affair.
I was a varsity runner, an A student, and completely depressed. Some days I couldn't leave my room because I was too high on adderall, and had incredible social anxiety and paranoia. I even peed in jars that I kept in my room to avoid seeing a housemate on the way to the bathroom. I was fucking terrified. I knew I was in real trouble and doing damage to my body. As a neuroscience major, I had a weekly cadaver lab. I remember at one point looking down at this dead body, thinking to myself: "how long until this is me?" I reached out for help. I told my parents about what was going on, and begged them to let me go to rehab. They refused me because I was so close to earning my degree. They had no idea the path I was on.
November of that last year in college. Totally desolate, addicted, and alone. One weekend night, there was a college night in town. Of course I didn't go, but my dear friend (the woman mentioned above) did. She and I hadn't spoken in two weeks. I found out the next morning she and two other students had been hit by a freight train in town. One of the students, a peer, died instantly. Another one survived with a lacerated liver and trauma-induced amnesia. My friend was critically injured, airlifted, and comatose for two weeks before she died.
I lasted about a month longer in school until I had to take a leave of absence. I feared if I didn't, I wouldn't make it. So I left, came home to NYC, and began a new hell. In the next 3 years, I fell deeper into my addiction, developing such a high tolerance that I was taking between 90mg and 150mg daily. This was back when doctor shopping was feasible, so I did. And when my addiction deepened, I had to start selling my scripts. To compensate, I forged fake identities and filled scripts under fake names. I must have been getting between 1 and 3 bottles of a 30 day supply a week. Dealing them was heartbreaking. I had little contact with people from my past life, who were understandably wary of the changes in me. The people I dealt to became the only ones with whom I had regular contact. It was painful to share concessions of drug-addicted sorrow, mostly because they were mitigated by the pretense that this drug wasn't killing the both of us. It was just cordial, everyday chit chat, but it was colored by off-handed admissions of powerlessness and being enslaved by adderall. And I was the ringleader; I was the center of this nexus: I was destroying my life.
I somehow managed to finish my degree at a university in New York 2 years after I left school. I started working, and was afforded incredible opportunities that I sabotaged, of course, because I was a raging drug addict. Adderall made me angry, intolerant, and short-sighted. I lost every opportunity that was handed to me because I was unable to maintain a normal schedule. I stayed up all night tweaking and smoking joint after joint, which doesn't augur well for a 9-5 job.
Finally, after dealing and using heavily for 2 years, I got caught. I think I unconsciously wanted to. I wanted someone to put a stop to this, because I was wholly incapable. A pharmacist called one of my doctors to verify a prescription, which she could not, as the script was forged. The doctor called the police, who came to my house to arrest me. Ironically, I was out at an AA meeting when they showed up - I had been attending AA and NA meetings regularly, albeit high. My mother had to dole out a sizable amount of money for a criminal defense attorney. Eventually, the doctor agreed to accept a letter of profuse apology, and by the grace of god she let go of the charges. But I was put on probation (still am), and I stopped using at once. My parents thought it was a scary enough experience to prevent a relapse - but I made it all of 90 days, then was right back to where I was. A year and a half later (this last January), after a boyfriend broke up with me, I decided enough was enough. I confessed in so many words to my parents, who were supportive and agreed to send me to rehab in Oregon.
I went for almost a month, and it was wonderful. I was pretty crazy in post-acute withdrawal, and realized some really important truths about my using - that much of it was precipitated by a childhood of trauma. I was discharged and planned on staying in the area, where I had friends, a sober house lined up, and a new life. I feared I couldn't stay clean if I went back to New York. A day before leaving rehab, though, I was invited to interview for a boon of a job in neurology research. They hired me quickly after interviewing, so I made the decision to move back home - after all, when you strip away the drugs, I am still someone who is fiercely passionate about my work. Upon arriving home, I went to meetings and found a sponsor. I still felt that aching loneliness I knew I would in a ghost town, a vestige of my drug-addled past. And I stumbled upon the same problem I do each time I get clean: when you've been in the grip of your addiction for long enough, life transforms. Worry turns to resentment in the people who love you. You begin to realize you've been relying on objects alone for a long time, and that objectification doesn't translate to human relationships. Clearing away the wreckage of the past is a wildly overstated plight - the real pain is in clearing a path to the future. The pain caught up with me, and despite my best efforts in recovery, I relapsed. I hated using - this time not just because of what it meant, but because of how it made me feel - estranged from myself. Months went by and eventually I was fired. This happened in the last month. The terrifying part is, as devastated as I knew I should be, I was, in some ways, relieved. Truthfully the minutiae of daily life always felt heavy, difficult, and even depressing - on or off adderall. I lack that quality most adults find endemic to their professional success - I can't, or won't, feign interest in anything I can't sustain, that I don't feel passionate about. So I languish at most jobs over time. All I wanted to do was use and be by myself all day, even in agony - the pain of the familiar is far easier than the tribulations of unknown territory.
Now, almost a month after being fired, I am completely out of money, in debt, and have used more heavily than I had in years. A scary change was catalyzed where I rediscovered the adderall euphoria i so desperately sought with each use. I felt happy again, if only a contrived happiness. Now I'm looking at indefinite withdrawal. I feel kind of paralyzed, and enraged with myself because I know it's self-inflicted. I'm at a point again where I am ambivalent about being clean, and I know that's a slow road to death - if not physically, then emotionally and spiritually. I had a taste of what recovery feels like, and it wasn't always the relief I thought it would be. Being clean is hard. I feel beyond lethargic, pissed off, unmotivated, and cognitively amiss. I know I have never managed to stay clean long enough to see if my brain chemistry can be restored, to stick around and see what life looks like when I'm through the proverbial woods. I've never gotten there and fear I never will. I don't know what it's going to take for me to get the motivation to stay clean, totally committed. I'm only 26, and know from experience this disease is progressive, and things will only get worse. Do I really want to wake up in my middle age, hopelessly addicted, the car flopped over, belly up, still spinning its wheels? I don't. But when I'm honest with myself, I don't know if I have the wherewithal to sustain the discomfort of returning to baseline in the interest of saving my life. I think that's the scariest part of all.
For those of you who made it through this long post, bless you. I have needed to write this out for a long, long time. I hope someone identifies with my story. Any words of hope are encouraged.