Photo by FtWashGuy // Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

My Adderall Addiction and How I Quit

A year ago I overcame a severe addiction to Adderall. Very severe.

Looking back, it’s baffling to imagine living with such a level of dependence. Waking up was impossible without Adderall. As was socializing. As was writing. As was enjoying life.

It may be hard to view ADHD medications like Adderall as something from which a serious addiction or dependence can form. They’re neither viewed nor discussed in the same terms as similar street drugs like meth.

Photo by Patrick Mallahan III // Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo by Patrick Mallahan III // Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

In fact, young adults today were largely encouraged, and even forced, to use these drugs growing up (around the same time we were having D.A.R.E. and the evils of marijuana shoved down our throats). So they don’t share the same negative connotations with their relatives on the streets. But they’re just as dangerous. And indeed, that they don’t carry such negative connotations makes them more so.

I’ll just come out and say it. I was taking anywhere between 150-270 milligrams of Adderall in a typical day. To put that in perspective, the maximum daily dose any reputable doctor will prescribe is 40 milligrams (usually).

Yeah. I was consuming an egregious amount of this shit. On my best days I was using 110 milligrams more than the maximum daily dose. Ugh. I want to vomit just thinking about it. People have died from less.

I had an Adderall prescription. I was invincible. I could do anything. The sky was the fucking limit.

I was so dependent on Adderall, I came to accept I would never quit. That I could never quit. Life without Adderall was unimaginable. Unbearable. I believed, and accepted, I would die before age 40 as a result; probably sooner. I knew the level of harm this extreme abuse was causing.

Though I was bothered by such thoughts, they did nothing to dissuade me from continuing the addiction. I loved Adderall. I loved the way it made me feel. Made me think. Made me act. If a shorter life span was the cost of feeling this way, so be it.

Conversely, I hated not being on Adderall. Periods of time without it (never longer than a week) teemed with depression, self-loathing, and sloth. It wasn’t just my love of Adderall that made me unable to imagine quitting, but how dejected I felt without it.

To clarify, Adderall wasn’t the only facet of my addiction. The two chemicals that make up Adderall, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, are quite mild compared to other stimulant drugs (when used correctly).

Three flavors of Amp Energy: Original, Orange, and Cherry
Original photo // Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Anyone who has experience with Adderall knows that caffeine intensifies its effects threefold, if not more. A small eight ounce coffee will do this. Combining it with a full sixteen ounce energy drink results in a cocaine-like high. Amp Energy was my favorite. I drank two or three a day (about 280-420 milligrams of caffeine).

Tobacco is the other thing. For some reason, stimulants impart an insatiable desire to smoke cigarettes. This has been documented by scientists for years, but has never been explained. Regardless, I was smoking more than a pack a day.

Oh, and marijuana! Of course! Being high on weed and Adderall at the same time is quite a treat, I must confess. The high produced is like a Godsend for creative types like me. All the creativity and open-mindedness of weed, with the motivation and clarity of mind to actually do something with it. My best articles on this blog were composed under the influence of varying combinations of these four drugs. But Adderall was the one I needed. My poisonous muse, if you will.

Dried cannabis bud
Photo by Hupu2 // Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

In addition to these unhealthy habits was my Mahatma Gandhi level of food consumption. Adderall is a potent appetite suppressant. It overpowers the opposing effect from smoking weed. What I did manage to choke down was shit. Microwaveable meals. Processed meats. If my body was somehow sentient, it would’ve thought I was captive in a labor camp or something. There’d be no other explanation for the lack of quality food and sleep it was getting.

As for how I kicked the addiction? I didn’t know until I finished this article. At first, this paragraph was all about how perplexed I was that I quit by myself. How it wasn’t a revelation about my health or future that spurred my change of behavior. I knew the deal. That Adderall was shortening my life span. Destroying my health. It dawned on me long before the day I quit that my addiction wasn’t sustainable.

But for some reason, I went through with it on that day. I threw away my remaining pills and committed to enduring the withdrawal, which lasted months. I didn’t know what empowered me to quit until I retraced the whole fucked up story in writing.

It’s a doozy.

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3 thoughts on “My Adderall Addiction and How I Quit”

  1. Great reading, man. I’m newly in recovery from an opiate addiction so I understand how difficult it is to quit, and how hard it is to admit what you have become to loved ones and share with others.

    Liked by 1 person

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