The Saga of My Adderall Addiction
Looking back, it’s baffling to imagine living with such a ridiculous addiction to Adderall. Such an immense level of dependence. Waking up was impossible without Adderall. As was socializing. As was writing. As was enjoying life.
Adderall addiction doesn’t get much attention from the media. 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.
But make no mistake, Adderall is just a trusted brand of speed, and is every bit as addicting.
Young adults today were largely encouraged, and even forced, to use drugs like Adderall 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 Adderall and other pharmaceutical stimulants are just as dangerous. And indeed, that they don’t carry such negative connotations makes them more so.
∴ ∴ ∴
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 three times more than the maximum daily dose. Ugh. I want to vomit just thinking about it. People have died from less.
I was so addicted to 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 understood the immeasurable level of harm such extreme Adderall abuse was inflicting on my body and mind.
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).
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 Adderall 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 like Adderall impart an insatiable desire to smoke tobacco. 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. All the creativity and open-mindedness of a weed high, 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.
I had an Adderall prescription. I was invincible. I could do anything. The sky was the fucking limit.
In addition to these unhealthy habits was my Mahatma Gandhi level of food consumption. Adderall is a potent appetite suppressant. It overpowers the opposing “munchies” 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 committed to quitting Adderall 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.
Follow James on Twitter.