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I have been lurking this website and this forum for over a year. I have contemplated sharing my story for so long but couldn't make myself do it-maybe because being honest would make everything real- but at this point, I know I have a problem. I never thought that I would end up here. I started taking Adderall in 2012 because the nurse practitioner thought I had legitimate ADHD and I did as well. For the first year, I didn't abuse the drug. I only took it when needed and every month I usually had at least ten extra pills. Slowly, over time I gradually increased my dosage. Sometimes it was a little bit extra here and there- nothing too extreme but somehow I ended up here- prescribed 30 mg IR a day and taking up to 60 mg IR, maybe even more. I lost weight, became really irritable and lost sight of who I was. I ran out early all the time and would just sleep it off for those few days, lie about how things were going and then pickup my script. Over time I needed benzos so fall asleep and to take the edge off of the crash. My prescriber got so frustrated with me that she cut off both prescriptions. I found a new psychiatrist and told him I had trouble with it in the past (a somewhat sanitized version) and he agreed I could take it as long as I was honest with him and didn't any extra. Of course, I fucking blew it. But this time, instead of lying, I decided to be honest. I came to his office and told him I was taking way more than prescribed and that my life had gotten out of control. I'm on the "taper down" method. I should be off altogether in a month. I'm currently taking one 20 XR a day and I wish I could say that I only felt mildly uncomfortable but the truth is it barely affects me and feels only slightly less better than not taking anything at all. I'm tempted to take more but I can't lie to this guy. It's hard for me to articulate how truly alone I feel. It's not the fact that I let this get so out of control (ironically, I thought the Adderall was the only thing holding my life together, until it was ruining it), it's just the path that lead me here. A good portion of my life I have been so deeply and profoundly depressed and this was the only thing that helped. But something deep inside of me knew that I couldn't fix the underlying issues that lead me here without being sober. I'm just worried that I ruined my life. The brain fog, the tiredness and the crushing depression are so intense that sometimes I'll just sit with my head in my hands, as if I can't even contain these feelings. I rarely cry, but there are times when I start crying and can't stop. I realized that this is probably the tip of an Everest sized emotional iceberg that I've ignored for so many years. I'm so afraid. And beyond feeling afraid, I have never, ever felt so alone. I know that no one sitting on the other end of this and reading this could ever really say that I will be "ok", but to know that someone else knows what it's like to not only be deeply intertwined with a drug they thought saved their life and lose it, but who knows what it's like to feel like there was something deeply and pathologically wrong with you that lead you down this road in the first place would feel comforting. Or that someone out there read this.
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.