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About Joanne

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  1. I wrote an article for the blog, based mainly on Dr. Larry Diller's recent series "The United States of Adderall." It also mentions this discussion board and Mike's story as he told it to WGBH back in 2011. Would love any feedback/comments on the blog! is a patients' rights and drug safety project co-founded by Dr. David Healy and some other, I guess you could say dissident British and Canadian doctors. They taught me what I needed to know in order to untangle myself from 20+ years of psych meds that had done more harm than good. Not an "anti-drug" group -- just stands for everyone's right to know the risks and benefits and be treated as an individual. Johanna (87 days free of Adderall this time around ...)
  2. I don’t like to tell others what to do … but from my own experience, I would urge people NOT to jump onto antidepressants to manage the fatigue and depression you get while kicking Adderall. Antidepressants can have their own long-term effects on brain function—causing both long-term dependence, and numbing of emotions and motivations. Just like Adderall. I was first put on Adderall twelve years ago as an “adjunct†to antidepressants that “weren’t working anymore.†I now believe that my “need†for Adderall had a lot to do with the depleting effects of 20+ years of antidepressant use. I’ve tried for the past five years to quit both, and it’s been wicked hard; it’s got to be done one drug at a time, and slowly … One of the reasons you don’t hear more about the withdrawal problems caused by antidepressants is that a major effect is … depression. Which leads many doctors (and patients) to believe that what they’re seeing is just the original “disease†coming back, and proof of your “biological need†for the medicine. Neither of these drugs is a supplement giving you more serotonin, dopamine or any other neurotransmitter. What they do is artificially disable your body’s processes for breaking down or re-absorbing the neurotransmitter, causing it to hang around the nerve synapse longer than it would naturally. The nerve cells will eventually adapt by becoming less sensitive to that neuro-transmitter, causing you to need the drug in a different, more permanent way than you did when you first started taking it. In fact, a lot of experts believe long-term antidepressant use can convert a situational depression into a chronic condition. At the very least, I would say, make antidepressants your last resort. Try everything else first. And make sure you ask the doctor this: “How long should I take these pills?†If s/he tells you not to worry about that – or worse yet, says you may need them for life – GET A DIFFERENT DOCTOR. And thanks for the Vervet Monkeys, Renascido! That study gives us some real evidence that the brain can recover in most cases—if you just give it time.
  3. Has anyone seen this four-part series by Dr. Larry Diller on HuffPost? It's excellent. Here's a link to Part Four which in turn has links to Parts 1-3: Diller is a "behavioral pediatrician" who has prescribed Ritalin and Adderall for years, so he's not anti-medication on principle. Still, he's been concerned for years about over-diagnosis of ADHD in kids and overuse of stimulants. He's even more concerned about the diagnosis of Adult ADHD -- and thinks Adderall is actually much more dangerous for adults than kids. He is really sounding the alarm about Adderall addiction, and is enough of an expert that he might even get listened to. He begins by describing a young woman called Amber (actually a composite of several patients he's known) who started taking Adderall in college. She's clearly addicted, becoming horribly depressed and confused when she doesn't have her pills ... Would be great to post these articles on the site!
  4. Empathy

    Lack of empathy and general feeling of emptiness? I'd say hell yes ... those are effects of amphetamines and they do get better. They also affect some people on SSRI antidepressants (one reason that these pills do more for the anxious, chronic worrier than for someone who is classically depressed. You won't lie awake worrying about your family or wondering what your friends think if you just don't care about those people quite as much). On adderall I was not only less social and less giving ... it even got to the point where I had flashes of paranoia. Not the exotic kind of delusion that the CIA was following me; just suspicions that people were going out of their way to put me down or make my life hard, when there was a total lack of evidence that this was so. Thankfully, that is all gone. The "empty" feeling or lack of enthusiasm can take a bit longer, but it does get better. I am even paradoxically grateful for some of my feelings of loneliness, insofar as they mean that the craving for human companionship is coming back. On Adderall it was rather TOO easy to spend a weekend contentedly working on "projects" or just reading and surfing the Net, all by myself.
  5. I'm no doctor ... but this sounds very plausible to me. Tooth-grinding and jaw-clenching are known possible side effects of both amphetamines and other psychotropic drugs including antidepressants. I developed both while on Effexor (one of the most stimulant-like ADs), along with compulsive yawning. It wasn't till an irritable boss thought I was deliberately yawning to be rude, that my doctor informed me that was a drug side effect.. and one that seemed to make him uneasy for what it said about the drug's effect on my central nervous system as a whole. I later found a case report in a medical journal of a guy whose compulsive forceful yawning actually did dislocate his jaw! Google the terms "jaw dystonia" and "jaw dyskinesia" and you may find some relevant stuff ... It's not a good sign.
  6. A Call for Stories

    Dear Post-adderall -- Sorry for the mixup! I have emailed Dr. Healy asking for an update on the patient-reporting network he's trying to provide. (I met him once at a conference -- he turned out to be extremely down to earth and open to taking the ideas of ordinary civilians seriously. Unlike so many med school professors who are used to being treated like gods.) I'll post as soon as I get a reply. In the meantime I would recommend his blog/website and another hosted by journalist Robert Whitaker Enjoy! And hang in there
  7. Experience with Wellbutrin?

    Dear "checkinout" -- I was prescribed Provigil for awhile as an alternative to Adderall. It was prescribed for the same reasons: fatigue and depression. Oh boy. To say it made me a "horrible agitated mess" is an understatement. It's as near as I've come in many, many years to truly feeling I was losing my mind. I am not against all psych drugs in all circumstances ... but my experience has been to stay away from any drug prescribed for general "fatigue". First, try giving it some time and applying sensible things like healthy diet, exercise, regular sleep schedule, getting through any crisis like breakup, unemployment, death of a loved one. If that doesn't work, try to find a doctor who can help you find any underlying medical reason for the fatigue. Docs are getting more & more friendly to the idea of prescribing stimulants for generalized "fatigue, but it's a scary trend in my humble opinion. Some docs are using Provigil and Nuvigil to counteract the "fatigue" of patients taking large amounts of opoid painkillers or antipsychotic drugs. Really scary.
  8. need help badily

    Dear Newboy -- welcome to the group, I think you belong here. It sounds to me like you * may * have some traits in common with those on the ADHD check-lists ... but they didn't stop you getting into college and getting to your junior year before you felt you needed to see a doctor. On the other hand, it seems like you are very sensitive to the potential bad effects of all these stimulants. So as far as taking pills to treat your possible mild ADHD, it sounds like the negatives outweigh the positives! Most of the fogginess you are feeling is no doubt withdrawal from the pills, rather than some innate problem of yours. My advice would be, relax and let go of the Adderall, and all the others! I VERY much doubt you have done anything permanent to your brain chemistry with such a short time using them. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but if you have a choice, it's better to live life without a diagnosis, I say. Best of luck!
  9. 2 months and depression/fatigue at it's worse

    Hi Cajun -- I too am still fighting depression and fatigue after several months off the Adderall. Some of it, I think, is a continuing withdrawal process. But other aspects of my life are out of whack too -- Adderall was just one of the pharmaceutical treatments for depression I've been given over the past thirty years. And I'm a recovering alcoholic. And going thru menopause. And just lost a dear friend in a motorcycle accident. Etc. etc. Thankfully, I am not unemployed! That is a really big source of stress all by itself. In the face of these hard life circumstances, an addict's brain does what an addict's brain does. It focuses on the magic substance. And not on our actual experiences, but a romanticized version of our best early experience on the drug. I'm not saying that Adderall withdrawal is not part of our common problem here. But the little voice in the back of my head that tells me Adderall is the solution? That little guy is not a solution, he's another symptom. If you can find an AA or NA meeting that is simpatico, your fellow addicts can help a LOT. (Having read your first post, I think you'd fit in pretty damn well.) If the first meeting you go to doesn't suit you -- too old, too young, too religious, too biker, whatever -- keep trying. And check in here!
  10. A Call for Stories

    Dr. David Healy, British psychiatrist and author of Let Them Eat Prozac, has started a website for ordinary citizens and researchers to share their knowledge of drug side effects that pharmaceutical company sponsored research are not telling us about. He is asking for patients, family members & etc. to tell their stories here: "Share your story — So if you or your partner, parent, child, or friend has been through the “system†— injured by treatment and possibly trapped in a Kafkaesque world when you haven’t got the help you needed from doctors, regulators, or anyone else you thought should be there to help, fill in the form below and let me know the details." Lots of us have posted stories here that we could contribute by simply cutting and pasting. This could be a great way to broaden the conversation and maybe get some scientific attention to the problem as well as our recovery. (BTW Dr. Healy is interested in the problem of "adult ADHD" -- seems to suspect it is either a pharma-created illness, or at least being wildly overdiagnosed.)
  11. Experience with Wellbutrin?

    I have major concerns about Wellbutrin. After six months Adderall-free I was still struggling with fatigue, depression and trouble concentrating. Partially in response to what I'd read on this board, I asked my psychiatrist if I could try it. It was unsettlingly close to Adderall, Provigil and other speed-like substances I'd been prescribed in the past. For the first few days I felt like my problems had been solved. That began to fade fast after the first week -- and the best I could say was that I felt more energetic, but also more agitated in an unwholesome way. Finally my heart began racing, and I took my blood pressure at the local pharmacy machine -- 145/100, way too high. So I took myself off it. I still struggle, but I'm convinced I did the right thing. I don't know much about pharmacology -- but Wellbutrin's generic name is buproprion, which is uncomfortably close to diethylproprion. That's a weight loss drug sold as Tenuate, which is a stimulant and has long been acknowledged to be addictive. Tenuate is mentioned in many accounts of the "diet pill" epidemic of the 60's and 70's ... and I have read some Internet posts (of unknown reliability) that claim buproprion is just a derivative of diethylproprion. I know that Wellbutrin is often prescribed off-label as a weight loss aid. It is labeled an "antidepressant" but is chemically very different from most other "antidepressants." After all, some of us were initially given Adderall as an "antidepressant." Anyone know any more about this topic? For now, I am sticking with strong coffee and AA meetings.
  12. adderall is killing me

    Hang in there Lee! I hope you will check in here again ... I also hope you can get in touch with fellow veterans who are going thru the same kind of hell you have been. You need and deserve all the support you can get. There is a national veterans counseling hotline here in Chicago run by Vietnam Vets Against the War (VVAW) with strong support of Iraq Vets Against War (IVAW). Their number is (773) 561-VVAW. I know the folks involved; they are kind, resourceful and have contacts all over the US. They also do not care what your political outlook on the war is/was (although it sounds like you have some serious doubts about the cause for which you were shipped off to fight). Here's a link: I don't know how much they know about Adderall ... but they are VERY familiar with veterans in distress turning to the VA and getting too many drugs and not enough real help. Maybe in the company of people who have truly "been there" it will be easier to open up about what's going on in your life. Good luck!
  13. Found this on a very mainstream physicians' news site. Granted, it's a correlation between doing the drug now and getting Parkinson's later ... too early to say that one causes the other. Still, with 66,000 people followed for 38 years, pretty impressive. Not to say scary. Probably when they started this survey 38 years ago most of the "amphetamine sulfate" users were taking it for weight loss -- or for fun. The actual formulation of Adderall, I heard, was bought by Shire from a company that manufactured it for years as a weight loss pill called "Obetrol." Amphetamine Use May Increase Parkinson’s Risk The Particulars: Amphetamines were once recommended for treating patients with Parkinson's disease. Recent studies, however, have suggested that this class of drugs may be linked to a higher risk of developing Parkinson's. Data Breakdown: Researchers conducted an analysis in 66,438 individuals who did not have Parkinson's disease at baseline and collected information on exposure to amphetamines. Through a mean follow-up of 38.8 years, 1,154 patients received a Parkinson's diagnosis. The average age at baseline was 36, and the average age at diagnosis was 70. Individuals who reported often taking amphetamine sulfate or dextroamphetamine sulfate had a 56% greater risk of having a Parkinson's diagnosis decades later. The magnitude of the relationship was similar for both men and women. Participants who reported taking weight-loss medication at baseline did not have an elevated risk for Parkinson's disease through follow-up (hazard ratio, 0.95). Take Home Pearls: The use of amphetamines appears to be associated with an elevated risk for developing Parkinson's disease later in life. Considering the wide population exposure to both legal and illegal amphetamines, more studies are needed to address this association.
  14. 5 mg left

    If you quit Effexor cold-turkey, then nothing is impossible! That is incredibly hard; I was on it for years and if I was even four hours late with my pill, I began to feel like a basket case. So many of these meds can severely exacerbate mood-swings ... either when you take them as directed, or especially when you quit. A year or so from now, you may want to re-visit the question of whether you actually have bipolar disorder, or whether some of that may have been the pills. That's not to downplay anyone's very real troubles -- yours, mine or anyone else's. It's just to say that a lot of doctors have become far too quick to hand out very heavy diagnostic labels which come with prescriptions for lifelong medication attached... and bipolar disorder is a prime example. Good luck!
  15. Raw

    Good morning Mark ... the site is definitely for real, and you're definitely not alone! So take a look in the "Tell Your Story" section as well as this one ... if something starts to sound like your story being told in someone else's words, you are definitely in the right place. I'm happy to say I'm 90 days Adderall free as of today. I am still dealing with post-Adderall recovery to some extent, feeling a bit tired and "scattered", but MUCH less than the first week. There is life after Adderall. Welcome!