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My Adderall Addiction and How I Quit

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The Saga of My Adderall Addiction

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

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).

Three flavors of Amp Energy: Original, Orange, and Cherry

Photo by James Kalìwæ // 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 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.

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  • John Wolsiefer

    I can relate so hard to this! Lost my ex because her addiction and it started off with adderals. Her and her friend were taking a script of the strong orange/peach ones and would be out in like a week. It got so hard to deal with living with her it was insane once she started using the pills and had lived with her about 6-7 months without a single argument before she got on them. Like you spoke of she too was obsessed with energy drinks. It made her delirious and desperate and totally irritable when they ran outta drugs shes 25 and pretty cute and stooped so low as to sleep with a 55 year old for weed. Pretty sure she thinks its not a big deal and has no idea how it effects her or the people around her. Its crazy people like you said dont look at it on the same lvl as heroin or meth. But its its own beast girl even cheated on me with some heroin addict who gave her stds TWICE before i met her. Insane the control drugs take over peoples lives.

  • Karen

    Thank you for writing this.

  • addernone

    This is a fantastic article. I can relate to many aspects of this, as I’m sure others can as well. I’m one of those cases where I have legitimate ADHD, but I still want to quit. I have a few minor differences in my motivations and concerns about quitting that may only effect ADHDer’s like myself, so I figured I’d share my experience briefly.

    I’ve been on and off for years – took ritalin / adderall during the years where I didn’t have a choice (my parents were pressured very heavily into putting me on it by my school – if I ever write a blog about quitting this is something I’ll be sure to provide my opinion on in detail), decided to stop in high school, went back on it in college but would only use it for cram sessions, started taking it consistently when I got a full time job (about 8 years ago). I take 50-60mg a day which 60mg being the current max daily dose, so by clinical means I’m not abusing it. That being said, I’m abusing it. I take it to play video games, take it to be able to sober up if I need to rally after day drinking, etc.

    The first time I tried to quit was a little over a year ago and it didn’t go well. I was off for about 5 weeks. 2 weeks of heavy withdrawal followed by a lingering, but fading, lethargy for a another 2 weeks or so. The problem I ran into was that I had set my life up around a performance expectation that was unrealistic. I literally could not perform my job at the level that I had been consistently performing for years and it completely confused everyone. I told my boss the truth – that I was going to see how things went if I came off my ADHD med – and he was understanding at first but became frustrated over time. He didn’t understand what coming off my ADHD med meant. Aside from the immediate lack of performance from the withdrawal, I’m not the sharp minded, solve everything guy when I wasn’t on my medication. I was still intelligent, but had trouble both starting and finishing projects and could not articulate the thoughts in my head in the same way – I could deliver the same information just in a less confident and some what scattered way.

    After this experience, I decided I needed to lower everyone’s expectations around me so that I could come off adderall without burning my career to the ground. I’ve been slowly setting that up for a year now. I moved to another state (something I was already planning on doing) so it gave me this opportunity. I’ve been putting in about 6 hours a day of actual work with the thought that I can deliver the same results working 8 hours off adderall (as opposed to putting in 9-10 hours of adderall-induced work before which was an impossible performance level to maintain without adderall). I don’t simply take every project handed to me and blow it out of the water anymore either. I’ve had to actively curb the perfectionist that adderall brings out in everyone. I’ll slap things together in circumstances where no one will care if they are slapped together. And I never work late anymore – ever. No one expects to me to be the guy who they can give something to that is due the next day anymore. Before I would oddly enjoy that scenario because I would have a justifiable reason to get jacked on adderall for 12 hours. Adderall is a real mind fuck like that.

    At this point, I’ve cut down to 40 mg a day. I do that by leaving the pill bottle at home and only bringing 4 pills with me to work. This forces me to ration it, at least for the majority of the day, and also allows me to know how many I’ve taken so far that day. I can’t count how many times I’ve felt a little bit tired, and just popped another 10mg tab not even thinking of when I had last taken one. I’m getting ready to stop after 40 mg because I don’t think I can ween down any further. I’ve tried, and I just somehow end up taking 50mg instead of the 30 I was planning. I don’t think it’s possible to ween off adderall without someone managing your dosage for you. Regardless, cold turkey from 40mg will start in the next 48 hours or so.

    Anywho, thought maybe some of you guys can relate to this. If I successfully come off again, I’ll update you with a much shorter, much harder to follow post – then you’ll know I’ve successfully returned to my normal ADHD-as-fuck self. I hope that this will be the case

    • RuinedLife

      so, iv been without amphetamine for 87 days. my life has been altered by this stimulant. I began taking high doses last year. I took 60-80 mg of amphetamine from September 2014 until july 2015. I used a lot of caffeine with amphetamine and this caused worse withdrawals. I stopped because it made me depressed. I wasn’t depressed before using amphetamine and I never used Adderall as an anti depressant. How long will it take me to recover from this shit?

  • MeMyselfI

    I knew quitting adderall was something I would need to think about as soon as I started taking it again. My last experience was enough but I wanted to get that high again to accomplish so many goals I had. But, that never happened. I just consumed myself in the wrong things. Working a lot, eating like crap, drinking to offset the energy to sleep… Then I’d be depressed about my life habits and inability to control my daily doses. I kept it all secret. I met someone and I didn’t want to be that person to them, I wanted my natural energy and happiness back… I was also tired of watching him sleep so soundly while I layed there awake and turning to high doses of sleep aides…So I ended up telling him about the adderall and that I wanted nothing more of it. He has been an amazing support giving me endless amounts of love. I had to take time off work because I knew how Id be off adderall…a useless pile of poo. Always sluggish, depressed, no energy, sloth mode. I knew for me it would only last about a week to get past the worst of the withdrawl symptoms like before even though I was taking it for 6 months this time ending at taking anywhere from 80-160mg daily. You can get thru it, but just plan on being a big turd for a bit. And stock up on healthier foods, drink lots of lemon water, probiotics. Do anything active to make your body feel good, even stretching. It gets better. You just have to reinforce that with yourself and preferably not have any adderall around. I tried to taper off but couldn’t. I’m at a week now of being off. It was hard but I did it. Feeling better and able to function although I’ve felt the need to lie down after my first meal due to crashing. But it’s getting better since I’ve been going to the gym and relaxing in the hot tub after my workout. My advice is to plan well for success! Take time off work and do this for you, for the rest of your life. It’ll take time to adjust to everyday activities again that you’re doing without adderall but if you need to make further life changes, rediscover your passion, etc so be it! Discover and embrace who you are naturally and what you can accomplish. Don’t be defeated by the pill. I know and have experienced the thoughts about taking the pill again, an excuse to use it and feel that high here and there… It’s just not worth it. You’ll just keep craving it. I’m focusing on finding a natural high now and appreciating the simple things in life. If I don’t feel good doing something then I’ll find something that does make me feel good instead of taking a pill to make the bad things better.

  • Christian

    Your words give me chills cause your absolutely right. Everything you say is what im going threw and how I live. Mainly what scares me is im only 28 and I have been on around 60-150mg of Adderall IR for 15 years, how in the world am I going to get that “mindset” to change what im so use to doing? After reading what everyone has said….you guys are family.

  • Joy

    Joe what you wrote was VERY meaningful. Take care of yourself. You’re worth it.

  • Alessio 36

    I am deeply in love with a man who is addicted to Adderal, unfortunately he acts like it is not an addiction and makes jokes about having ADD (he’s a recreational user.) When he’s not on it he’s downright rageful and bitter and even sometimes when he is his moods swing like a revolving door. I won’t give up on him, I want to stay with him, no matter what, but this is really beginning to unnerve me. He’s also lost substantial amounts of weight and when he does eat it’s a binge fest. He drinks loads of coffee on top of the Aderall as well which only makes the mood swings more intense. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m not going to give up though.

  • Amanda

    Looks like I finally stumbled upon the right page this time. And to think I was so alone abusing adderall the way I do. Your right about quitting for someone else if your not going to quit for yourself. that’s the part that slapped me in the face. even if that someone else happens to be an animal :) it’s clear now he came into my life for a reason, to save it.

    Your a badass dude, and a great writer. I hope your healthy and happy.

  • Alpha

    Your article is my life. Even down to the video games. Only my game was HALO. This is a habit I haven’t been able to quit it’s destroying my life. I’ve lost a lot of friends over this and I think it’s time to finally rid myself of it.

  • Patrick I. Cheng

    Thank you for this piece. I’m trying to quit cold turkey myself and it’s hard. Will I be as confident as I was when I was on it? Will people like me as much? Will I be as ambitious? It’s tough, really tough, but I think quitting is the answer. It’s comforting to hear other people dealing with the same issues.

  • Sandy

    I have been prescribed adderall since I was 17, before I knew it my doctor was prescribing me 90mg a day. Within a week and a half they were gone. The rest of the month was miserable. I slept all day, I was depressed and when I had to work I felt my performance was never as good as when I was on adderall. I have been addicted to adderall for over seven years. In the last two years my doctor was prescribing me adderall, zanex(which would help me sleep at night), and vicodine (which I would take when I ran out of adds so the withdraws weren’t as bad). A 4 months ago I stopped going to my doctor. Cold turkey.
    I went through the physical withdraws but mentally I’m still struggling. Sometimes I have dreams that someone will give me adderall and when I wake up for a split second I think it was real like an adderall would be in my purse or on my nightstand, when reality sets in and I realize it was just a dream I wonder if these nightmares will ever end. I still suffer from
    Slight depression, thoughts often run through my mind like sober me will never be as productive and assertive and organized as the person I was when I took adderall. Since I’ve quit I put on weight, lost alot of so called friends who I knew only hung around because of what I was prescribed not because they like me as a person.. Things have gotten a little easier but is it is it normal to still feel like this and have nightmares going on 5 months of being drug free?

  • Joe

    I’m too spun up and burned out right now to write anything meaningful but I have to thank you for this article.
    I’ve known for awhile now that I am addicted to Adderal and that it is destroying my life, but the thought of living without it and/or going through a recovery program seem like impossible tasks.

    It seems so much easier to continue down this path and self destruct then to try to break free of this addiction and live. Instead of fighting to get my life back, I convince myself that I am doomed anyway so fighting is futile. Simply put, it will be easier for me to die than it will be to live.

    Your article has shown me that I am wrong and that it is better to live and that I CAN live. You have given me hope and it has been a very, very long time since I have felt hopeful about anything and for that I thank you.

    You wrote that you hoped your article helped at least one person. Well, it has. I will be making some phonecalls in the morning and I’m gonna get some help. Thank you so much.

  • albert y

    I too am getting over addiction and on a path to recovery. It takes time to fully regain your true self again but it’s definitely possible. Acupuncture is a great starting point. I’m considering taking ayahuasca in the near future to combat my constant depression.

  • James Joyce

    Wow. It’s amazing the parralels I drew from your story. And all of the replies.Thank you.

    It’s bizarre to me that when I would be running low, as I took a months worth in a week, I new I could take less and make them last. But I never did. Never.

    It’s crazy to watch yourself make a choice you know you don’t want to make yet feel compelled to.
    It’s almost like all of the causes of our behaviors are completely inaccessible to the conscious mind.

    It’s like the more I consciously want to quit, the more my subconscious makes sure I keep using. “What we resist persists.”

    It seems like and I think its the case that eventually most of us will quit…eventually. The question is how do we hasten this process. How do we make ourselves want to want to quit?

    How do we access the traumas or distorted assumptions which lead to the habit in the first place?

  • Jessi M

    This is day two for me. I genuinely have add but no longer can be this dead inside . I’m a shell of who I once was . I miss me. I was fun, full of life. I’ve isolated myself from all of my friends and have turned into some alter ego version of myself. I hate adderall me. She’s productive , but she’s boring and forgets what it means to be a good wife , friend, and mother . I despise her. My body and mind feels so very heavy though. I just keep thinking well maybe if I just take a half dose … I’ll feel a little better …. But I think that’s the addict in me talking . She needs to shut up and sit down.

    • Jessi m

      Approx 2 weeks later… I see some of my personality come back . A depressed version of myself , but I believe that will fade . My ADD symptoms are awful . I’m back to scatterbrained and hyper and my lack of motivation is unreallllll. Focus is at level zero, but I’m doing something I haven’t done much of in a long time. FEEL!! It isn’t always positive , but I’m least im not numb .

      • James Kalìwæ


        Thanks so much for sharing your experience of quitting Adderall. I hope you’re staying strong and reaping the benefits of being clean. Please, if you make your way back here, let us know how you’re doing – even if it’s bad news. This is a safe place to be open and honest, no judgment or negativity allowed. :)

        • Jessi

          It’s a struggle . I’m still clean , but hate it . Sort of . My relationships have all improved , my energy levels are back to normal but I swear my add is worse than ever . Getting anything done is such a chore and mentally painful and sometimes impossible . Considering seeking non stimulant adhd medications . I want to be completely med free but my to do list keeps growing and is causing just as much anxiety as the stimulant was . With all the negative out of the way , I’m present . I have feelings and emotions again. I’ve been using adderall for so very long that I had become numb. I’m an empath by nature so to suddenly be able to feel deeply both sadness and joy is almost new to me . It’s beautiful . But my to do list is a night mare . Any advice ?

  • Nick

    Just wanted to say that your story is pretty much exactly the same as my story (Vyvanse & Adderall addicted for about 3 years). I’ve been wanting to and ready to quit for about 6 months. Just finally tired of how much time and energy any sort of addiction takes up. I’ve kicked other drugs before after prolonged periods of abuse (Alcohol & Weed separately I spent about two years with a light addiction/abuse cycle although I totally get that weed can’t technically be abused but I was overusing and it was having a negative effect on my life in general and I still smoke it every once in a great while when a good friend offers but I quit buying and using daily a long time ago). Just wanted to say that I’ve cancelled my doc and prescript and I’m having a wonderful time being off these legal amphetamines. It’s really been a swell experience actually. I used to call the dexamp my “superman drug” and for all intents and purposes it totally is a “superman drug”. But prolonged abuse of amps (or any drug to be honest) is just not sustainable. It was a great 2-3 years with the stuff and I had a hell of a lot of fun and productivity but man oh man am I happy to be off of them and I’m really glad that I actually feel great about NOT going to the pharmacy to get a refill these pasts months and this next one as well. There is something to be said about living ‘clean’ and sober from any substance and it feels great. As with Weed and then Alcohol after it, I quit daily usage only once and stuck with it and never looked back. I still smoke on occasion and I still drink maybe once a month at most. Who knows, I could see myself taking some dexamps in the future just for a fun night with a friend. BUT it’s the daily use and monthly prescriptions and doctors visits to get them that is done and over with and I could not be happier. Every drug seems to just run its course for me and my experiences with prolonged stimulant usage has come to an end. Thanks for a great read :) Those are my personal thoughts on the subject.

  • Jesse Bonincontro

    Holy cow,

    To be honest I googled “how to get over an adderall addiction” and I am really happy I found this article. I’m completely lost in my life, who I am, what I want to be, it’s all overwhelming. Your experience is what I’m going through at this very moment. I want to quit, I really f*cking do, and now I have the courage and understanding to do so, however, I’m scared. I’m scared of losing my job as well as losing my loved ones. I went one day sober and I hated it. I was a lifeless zombie who slept all day and didn’t have any motivation other than changing the channel on the TV. I work 50+ hours a week, how can I just quit? I can’t turn to my family due to the fact that they would shut me out of their life. As for my friends, they’re all party animals and enjoy adderall too, just not to the extent of myself.

    Reading this article made me cry, but not in a bad way, but in a way that lets me know others out there are going/went through the same addiction as I am. I hope one day I can truly enjoy life without the use of this vile drug.

    I just want to end this comment with a thank you. Thank you for sharing your experience, thank you for giving us hope and thank you for enlightening all of us.


    • James Kalìwæ

      I’m very sorry for taking my sweet ass time to respond to this and other comments here. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to do so until I addressed Chris Anthony’s comment below. For reasons I’m sure you’ll understand once you read it.

      Thank you so much for sharing your circumstances with me and my readers. It’s incredible to know this article has affected people, especially since when I published it, I was sure no one would want to read over 5,000 words detailing my experiences. It’s awesome to see how wrong I was about that.

      I wanted to respond to this:

      I went one day sober and I hated it. I was a lifeless zombie who slept all day and didn’t have any motivation other than changing the channel on the TV. I work 50+ hours a week, how can I just quit?

      Quitting will suck no matter what. This is a tough situation, and I don’t presume to have the answer here. All I can say is, and I don’t know the circumstances with your job, that your best course of action would probably be to go to your employer and be honest about your situation. A frightening prospect, I understand, however – and this article is a testament to this – people very much appreciate and respect honesty. If you have a certain number of sick days per year, they shouldn’t have any issue with you using them to take time off while you go through withdrawal. Unless your job involves operating machinery or something like that where Adderall use might get you in trouble, my advice is that honesty is the best course of action here. If your employer/manager are decent people, they’ll appreciate your honesty and admire your determination to get better.

      Having said all that, please take my advice with a grain of salt. I don’t know the exact circumstances of your situation, and while the virtues of honesty are easy to espouse, when it comes to things like your career and livelihood, you must take into account your personal discretion.

  • Chris Anthony

    Excellent article sir, thanks for your honest description of successfully winning a battle I’ve tried to fight many times.

    I’m absolute your article will help many people, and hope I am one of them.

    Well done.

    One question – now that you’ve been clean for 3months, how often, if at all, does your mind try and tell you that getting back on adder all is the right thing to do / do you ever think of getting back on it? I know it’s easy enough to find a doc that would gladly take your money… Just curious if that happens to you, and if so, how you rationalize to that crazy part of your mind that wants it again that quitting really is the right choice.

    Seriously thanks again, your writing really had got me thinking.

    • James Kalìwæ

      These are great questions. And ones I’ve been putting off answering as the prospect of doing so fully and honestly is frightening to me. Not to mention the undertaking of organizing my thoughts. But I think it’s important. I hope you find your way back here to read my answer.

      First of all, I published this piece a little over a year ago… and at the time it had been about 14 months since I quit.

      [H]ow often, if at all, does your mind try and tell you that getting back on adderall is the right thing to do / do you ever think of getting back on it?

      My brief and direct answer: very often.

      I want to split this question in two as there’s two separate questions here. 1) “How often does my mind try and tell me that getting back on Adderall is the right thing to do?” and, 2) “Do I ever think of getting back on it?”

      The second question is different because, separate from the first, I “think about getting back on it” in a lot of different contexts. For one, as I mentioned in my response to Katie’s comment, I have experienced nightmares about relapsing, and that obviously makes me “think about getting back on it” in a negative way. On the other hand, among day-to-day thoughts, I would certainly think about how getting back on it might improve certain aspects of my life… but once again, knowing so well of all the aspects of my life that it would screw up, I didn’t make it a point to think in such terms. My point is, as thought tend to do, these come and go.

      The first question is more complex.

      The first month or so after quitting, my mind pretty much constantly tried to tell me that getting back on it was the right thing to do. But this was essentially just in the form of sheer cravings. And I had guarded against these by admitting the problem to my mother; since I was on my parent’s insurance at the time, there really would have been no way, at least not an easy way, to get another prescription. And I was way too broke to afford to sustain such a habit by buying it off the street. But I digress.

      I like this question because it (rightly) asserts the existence of a very particular mental phenomenon which is related to simple “cravings.”

      A simple craving is just that: your mind and body indiscriminately demanding the ingestion of the drug. What you’re alluding to in this question is perhaps a more sophisticated manifestation of cravings. The cravings learn they must operate in the subconscious realm if they are ever to be satiated. There, they formulate thought processes with the intention of manipulating your conscious mind into deciding to start ingesting the drug again – that doing so is rational.

      So… in this sense it’s constant. Never ending. Even when you’re over the addiction and it’s the farthest thing from your conscious mind, somewhere in your brain, mental energy is being expended with the ultimate goal of getting that drug back in your body. If addiction is Hell, this constant, primordial exchange of signals among synapses is Satan. Say that five times fast.

      So while it’s easy to say these thoughts become less frequent with time, the grim reality is they manifest themselves in more complex and insidious ways. It’s hard to say there is a way to “guard” against this; given they are, after all, your own thoughts.

      And as for this question:

      [H]ow [do] you rationalize to that crazy part of your mind that wants it again that quitting really is the right choice.

      This is impossible to do. Just look at the language. You can’t “rationalize to” something that’s “crazy.” That’s oxymoronic.

      In fact, trying to rationalize these crazy thoughts is probably dangerous. Because once convince yourself that you have control over them, you’ve taken the first step toward relapse.

      And this brings me to the hard part.

      About… I guess five months ago at this point, I relapsed.

      Relapse is a strong word… and I put a lot of thought into whether or not I should use it here. But at this point, I can say it certainly pertains to my situation. Especially considering I’m on Adderall right now, and it’s fucking midnight.

      So that’s why I can’t say for certain if they ever fully go away, because I have succumbed to them. But I don’t think they do.

      And here I find myself struggling against irony and cynicism.

      I will keep everyone updated on my continued struggle. I owe that to you and everyone else who’s been affected by this article.

      Much love,


      • addernone

        Really sad to hear that man – let us know how you’re doing with it if you make it back on here. The truth is, about half way through your response I said to myself “fuck, he got back on adderall.” That phenomenon where you can be analytical and articulate at the same time without rambling (in the irrational, disorganized sense of the word) is a dead give away for anyone who writes on adderall. I didn’t think you were going to cop to it at the end like you did and as I was reading I was still debating whether I wanted to call you on it in a reply, but your honesty on this topic remains unquestionable. I, along with everyone else I assume, very much appreciate it.

  • Mari

    Hey. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve never left a comment to an article, but here I just feel that now I’m in the same boat as you used to be.
    I’ve been taking adderall for 3 years now. I started in a very cliche way: a friend gave me a pill to try before an exam. Being an 18 y/o international student alone in the foreign country (+i suspect i’ve had some social anxiety issues), after taking it I felt like, as you said, that the sky is the limit. Long story short, it was extremely easy for the university shrink to prescribe be first with ritalin, then concerta, then dexedrine and then, of course, with adderall. She was more than happy to give me “samples” to try and see which drug will fit me best. Even though the mental, physical, and emotional abyss that I am in right now is completely my fault and responsibility, this tendency of North American doctors to prescribe pills as a remedy to anything still drives me crazy. Figuratively, and, until recently, literally crazy.
    Anyway. this is my 5th day of being clean. Before that, I’ve been on and off(mostly off) for 2 weeks. I’m feeling very low and tired. Sometimes depressed. Unmotivated.. I’ve these extremely vivid dreams that I can’t sometimes distinguish from reality.. All the “normal” post-adderall symptoms so to speak.
    My only motivation is to find real me. I’ve never experienced real me. Not the anxious teenager living with parents (that I’ve been until 16y/o), not the implulsive loner/conformist/confused international student (16-19y/o), and not the directionless addict on autopilot popping pills(19-22 y/o). Real, authentic me.
    I identify myself with many aspects of your story. Even though mine has been very different, I too have 3 close friends who know (well 60% “know”) about my addiction. After reading your blog, I feel like talking and sharing with them. I might as well write them now.
    I wish you best of luck. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. I hope your post-adderall life is way better and that you’re feeling truly happy now.

    • James Kalìwæ

      Mari, thank you so much for sharing your experience.

      I’m very glad to hear you’re taking the initiative to quit on your own. I’m impressed that you managed to compose this comment despite what you’re going through (I know I sure as hell didn’t want to write anything when I was going through withdrawal). It sounds like you got a good head on your shoulders, so keep up the good work and you’ll be fine.

      You’re around the same age I was when I quit, a little younger. Like I said in the comments above, the human body and human brain are both incredibly resilient. Don’t talk yourself into believing you need Adderall to function just because the withdrawal process sucks so much. One day you’ll wake up and realize… you’re you! And it’ll feel fucking awesome. So just keep thinking about that day whenever you have a craving.

      Oh, and also, yeah, call or text or get in contact in some way with your friends. Let them know what you’re going through. You’ll feel ten times better.

      Thanks again for sharing! :)

  • Dan

    Thanks James for the article I am currently coming off of two very poisonous drugs adderall and xanex. This is day 7 for me but the first two days were the hardest for me. I have been bed ridden for almost the whole week and felt like I may lose my girlfriend of one year over this. Your article gave me the courage to tell her that I am addicted or was just 7 days ago and thats why I have been like this for a week. It was very hard to tell her because shes only known the adderall xanex version of me she doesnt know the real sober me and thats not fair to her. I appreciate your story and can most definetly relate to it I am a 26 year old college student and was seriously introduced to adderall while living on campus in the dorms. My roommate was on them and I wondered why he slept so much, I dont wonder why anymore he was simply going through withdrawals. I am currently going through them along with the xanex withdrawals which almost doubles the anguish the physiological effects seem to have turned into physical effects for me. I have actually lost more weight since being off of them this week then when I was while on them but thats probably from not wanting to do anything even eat, but I know there is hope in sight. Thanks again for all of those who shared their story it has truly been an uplift for me.

  • Conor Crusinberry

    This hit home man, beautifully written and rings true for so many in the younger generations.

    • James Kalìwæ

      Thank so much for the kind words! I really appreciate it. :)

  • Matt

    I was also on adderall for 3 years, I took it once a day when i first woke up and that was it, i was taking 2 30mg IR (i call them the orange devil pills) I drank 3-4 green amps a day as well lol and i would smoke at least 2 packs a day. When I quit, i quit cold turkey and the only withdrawal symptoms i had were that i could not sleep, i would be all jittery in my feet, constantly shaking them. Its been a year and a half and i feel great. I still feel foggy, but whatever it gets better as the day goes on. I get tired a lot earlier but who doesn’t. I cant concentrate very long though thats why im rushing this post. (I somehow read that whole article without stopping and i think its because i can relate almost exactly to it, besides the whole college stuff) I work full time and have been since i started taking it. If you were wondering i only started taking it because i was starting work at 2am and working till 5pm. I think taking it for so long every single day messed with my memory because i cant remember anything. I can barely remember what i did yesturday and when i try to think about it, i just get distracted and stop. Anyways, sure it may make you feel like superman but its not worth it in the long run. Nothing will come as an excitement when on it, it will just be an ehh whatever. i cant think right now but thats all i got, maybe ill post something when im actually in the mood.

  • hyper_critical


    Thanks for sharing. I’m about two years off it after my addiction took me to the depths you describe.

    I highly recommend: It’s got some great articles about Adderall addiction and a community of people in the forums who genuinely care and are there to help.

    Adderall addiction is NOT child’s play, and I can tell you from experience that getting clean was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m a human being again.

    That website helped save my life. Hope it can help someone else out there too.


    • James Kalìwæ

      Hey bro, I was just going back through these and noticed I hadn’t replied to you. I was probably going through some fuckshit around the time you submitted it.

      I wanted to thank you for mentioning, I think it’s a good site too.

      Thanks a bunch for taking the time to share your thoughts. :)

  • Kevin

    James, thank you for sharing your story with us. The dosages I take are in the same range that you were in. I do believe that I can overcome my Adderall addiction that is currently deteriorating my life. However, my motivation tends to fade at times because I sometimes feel like too much damage has already been done. My deepest fear is that my Adderall bingeing may have caused a permanent chemical imbalance in my brain. You would be the best person to talk to about this I feel since you successfully overcame this horrible addiction. What are your thoughts on Adderall abuse causing potential brain damage? Do you think any damage has been done or do you feel overtime your brain can fully recover? I would really appreciate your input. At the age of 26 I am at the point right now in my life where I honestly wish I would drop dead because of how much of a failure I have turned into from this addiction. I am absolutely desperate for help. As pathetic as it is I cry and sob almost every day because I wish this never would have happened. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • James Kalìwæ


      Thank you so much for reading this, and opening up about your struggles.

      The fear that my abuse of Adderall had already caused irreparable damage to my brain was a demotivating factor for me as well; it’s easier to continue your addiction when you’ve convinced yourself that your brain is broken and therefor needs the drug to remain functional. So I totally understand what’s going on in your head with regard to this concern.

      I’m going to answer your question directly before I delve into my reasoning: No, I do not believe that Adderall abuse causes permanent long-term brain damage – even heavy, chronic abuse.

      This is based off my own experience… though it would obviously be quite difficult for me or anyone to consciously recognize a decline in their own IQ or general brain function… but after being off Adderall for about three months (give or take), I can say I felt 100% like myself again. To put it more bluntly, I do not think for one second that my brain is any less functional, or less capable of critical thought, or less capable of anything now than it was before I began abusing Adderall, or than it would be now had I never taken a single Adderall in the first place. The human brain is an extremely resilient organ. The human brain is amazing.

      However, though I do not think Adderall use or abuse causes any substantial brain damage, it absolutely alters your natural brain chemistry. The question is does this alteration lead to actual damage, and I think the answer to that is no. I would need to do some actual research on this, and I might just do that after posting this, but I believe this because although Adderall does alter your brain chemistry, it’s not like it introduces any chemicals to your brain that aren’t already there; it merely alters the rate at which they’re produced and disposed of by the brain. While sustaining such a chemical imbalance is certainly not a good thing, I don’t see how it would lead to permanent brain damage.

      The thing is – and this is why it’s so easy to convince yourself that your brain is badly damaged – this chemical imbalance exists both while you’re high on the drug, as well as when you’re withdrawing from it. When you take an Adderall one time for the first time, you’ll hardly notice much in the way of withdrawal symptoms. However the withdrawals become more intense and longer lasting the more you abuse Adderall. Withdrawing from Adderall sucks for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that you just feel stupid, to be frank. Your brain simply doesn’t work as quickly and effectively when it’s withdrawing from a drug like Adderall. After a while, you convince yourself that’s just how you are without Adderall, not realizing how untrue that is; in reality, that’s just how you are withdrawing from Adderall. But when you abuse it every day for months and months, years and years, you’re constantly either experiencing the high, or the withdrawal, so you’re literally never “sober”. The longer such a chemical imbalance is sustained (i.e. the longer you abuse Adderall), the longer it will take to fix itself once Adderall is out of the picture. But it will fix itself, and you will become yourself again.

      Please stay in touch, Kevin. Either through these comments or email. Right now I’m having trouble with my “” account, so if you’d rather talk through email, shoot me one at for the time being.

      Thanks again for sharing. Best of luck to you.

    • Kevin Toppins

      I know how you feel. I was in college for 9 years and the last 3 were the hardest to get through. Subsequently, that’s when the depression was holding me down. I started to think of myself as a bad person for wasting my parent’s money, cuz I was at college, and I was just there. No plans to get out, no motivation to do any homework, go to class, try and fix the situation. No direction. No wanting to get a job. Nothing. Just adrift without a paddle. And I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening was because of depression. When you’re depressed, it’s impossible to understand what the problem actually is. Usually you resort to thinking that the problem is that you’re a bad person and you should be ashamed that you’re not willing to work hard anymore. That’s not true at all, but it’s what I told myself at the time. And I was miserable.

      And I was 26 and still in school and still without a single degree. I felt beyond ashamed.

      I will say that the 9 years I was on adderall have permanently altered my brain. I stopped adderall the december before I graduated from college. However in the 2 years since then, I literally just sit around and browsed the web all day. I’ve had 2 meaningless temp jobs in that time. One working as a delivery driver, and one working in a mall. I graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering, and I was working one day a week in a mall. Also, I started drinking a lot and have only recently kicked that habit too.

      It took the culmination of a couple of things to get me out of the post-adderall damage phase, which I only emerged from in september of this year (so like 2 – 3 months ago).

      1. I began to research life after adderall and that’s when I learned that I had a (semi) permanent state of depression. I thought I was just without direction, even though I finally had a degree. Turns out, my aimlessness was due to my brain chemistry.

      2. Found out that taking rhodiola rosea was EXTREMELY effective at cancelling out the damage. I also just started on omega 3 to help with my chronic anxiety that never showed until the first year I went on adderall.

      3. Forced myself to get aerobic exercise (weight lifting just won’t cut it) every day.

      The rhodiola rosea was like night and day. I started with 680 mg per day, and after a week or two, I started to notice I was actually INTERESTED in things again. I would listen to the radio and be ENTERTAINED!!!!

      It turns out that 680 mg is too high for me cuz I couldn’t fall asleep, so I toned it down to 340 mg. I can sleep now, and I feel amazing, and I have energy to devote to things that I love again. I haven’t had that ability in 4 or 5 years.

      I also take welbutrin, because that has historically kept me from sinking into an even worse depression. So, right now I’m on welbutrin and rhodiola and omega 3 and I am a whole person again. Even 2 years of just welbutrin didn’t fix the problem. It took the suppliments.

      Oh, and I won’t go into my addiction story, but it’s pretty similar. Hearing voiced, screams. Something that felt like a mild seizure. Staying up for 6 entire days solid. Dead on the inside as a person. So, I feel where you’re coming from.

      The exercise is another big one. The body, and brain, have the amazing ability to fix themselves when you actually use your body as evolution built it….. to be active. I cycle. That’s what works for me. I also have a gym membership for the days when the weather gets bad.

      I thought my best days were behind me for the longest time, hang in there man.

  • Katie

    This hit me pretty hard. It sounds just like where I am now. It’s a bad feeling but I know I have to do this. I go back and forth so much with myself. I WANT to quit I just don’t know if I have it in me to stay strong. My family has known of past issues with taking too much. They have no idea what it’s like now.. Becoming this lying and stealing addict is sick. I have so much.. A beautiful life..amazing husband, adorable son..why do I do this. Your words about how accepting that you’ll die young was like a smack to the face. I have accepted that as well and I even will make jokes about how ill die young bc of my health going down hill. This is not hasn’t been in a long time. No one knows and I feel like I have people (family) so tricked that this will kill them. This addiction has ruined so many biggest fear is that it will my marriage. I know that eventually it will as well. I want the old me back. Last night or should I say this morning when I went to bed for a hr I had a nightmare you can call it that I ran out of adderall and woke up. I felt kinda stupid that when I woke up I realized this bad dream was about my’s just like a -this is my life- only thing that matters to me anymore. I’ve ran out in the past and went the most 2wks. In those wks I was taking other pills(phentermine,vyvance, whatever I could buy) and drinking every energy drink that’s in store just so I could not crash..hard. But at the amount I am now it’s going to suck way more and at this point i really am scared for my health. This is the most and fastest I’ve gone through a months worth in a short amount of time. How am I going to make it in a few days when I’m all out…this is what had been going over and over in my mind. But even knowing that it’s like I physically can’t slow myself down or stretch the rest out to make it closer to getting more. Even tho I know that would mean taking a tiny dose but that’s better than nothing right….? I still can’t do it.
    Finding this blog has gave me some hope. I so needed to come across this you have no idea…
    All the best to you<3

    • James Kalìwæ

      Thanks so much for sharing, Katie. I’m glad this article got you thinking…

      The way you describe your experience is striking to me, and it proves something about the nature of amphetamine addiction, and probably addiction in general.

      It’s striking with regard to how different our circumstances and lifestyle certainly are; I was a single college student/dropout during the time of my addiction, while you’re a wife and mother raising a family. But the circumstances of life doesn’t change the way this drug effects and controls people. It’s just crazy to me how much I relate to everything you’ve said here.

      First of all, I’m far from qualified to help you with this, so I feel the responsibility to tell you what I’m sure you already know: you should seek professional help with this – or at least the support of your family – if you’re serious about ending this addiction in the healthiest way possible. However, being able to relate to you so well, and understanding that you’re an adult who is going to make her own decisions regardless, I do have some stuff to say that I think you should just think about.

      First of all, with regards to what you said at the beginning of your comment, “I WANT to quit I just don’t know if I have it in me to stay strong,” that’s a stupid reason to not go ahead with trying (though I remember thinking the exact same thing a million times). Trying and failing does not necessarily mean that you’ll be less likely to succeed in the future; on the contrary, quitting is something that takes practice, I think.

      I’m just going to kind of quote some of what you said and respond to them from here.

      Becoming this lying and stealing addict is sick.” – Be careful with negative thoughts like that. I know how easy it is to hate yourself over this addiction. Though you certainly need to remain cognizant of the negative effects your addiction is having on those around you, especially as a parent, you simply cannot beat yourself up over it. Try to have compassion for yourself the exact same way you would have compassion for a loved one dealing with the same addiction. Imagine if it was a grown up version of your son going though this, you wouldn’t harbor such negative thoughts toward him, and certainly wouldn’t say such harsh and negative things to him about it, and you shouldn’t say such things to yourself, either.

      I have so much.. A beautiful life..amazing husband, adorable son..why do I do this.” – This is a powerful reason to quit, and all I can say is that – as I convey in the article – my main motivation to quit were my friends. So I think it’s safe to say that if I was able to derive the strength to quit from the desire to save my relationships with them, you certainly are and will be able to derive the strength to quit from the desire to save your relationships with your husband and son. My best advice is to never stop thinking about how much you love them and how much you don’t want to hurt them, and never for one second let you convince yourself that there’s a chance this addiction won’t hurt them and destroy your relationships with them, because it will. There’s simply only so long you can go on realizing these things before you commit to quitting.

      I have accepted that as well and I even will make jokes about how ill die young bc of my health going down hill.” – I did this ALL THE TIME as well. It’s very human to deal with such dark, depressing realizations with humor.

      No one knows and I feel like I have people (family) so tricked that this will kill them.” – Like I said in the article, telling your loved ones about your addiction is a huge and necessary step toward quitting. This might sound like a negative statement, but it’s true: you cannot do it on your own. And I’m sure, if you’re like me, your fear of telling them how bad it is originates more from the fear of how it’ll affect your ability to continue your addiction than it does from the embarrassment of telling them. This is something you’ll only be able to conjure the will to do once you’ve completely committed to quitting, because if you don’t want to quit, you won’t want to tell them, because you won’t want them prevent you from continuing to use.

      my biggest fear is that it will my marriage. I know that eventually it will as well. I want the old me back.” – I’m sure your husband does too. And you’ll both watch her reveal herself more and more every day when you quit. I know it seems like you’ll never get her back, like maybe she’s gone forever. But she isn’t, and getting her back is as simple as getting off Adderall.

      Last night or should I say this morning when I went to bed for a hr I had a nightmare you can call it that I ran out of adderall and woke up. I felt kinda stupid that when I woke up I realized this bad dream was about my pills” – Just wanted to let you know I have had many many dreams about Adderall, and I felt the same feeling of stupidness for actually having these ‘nightmares’, which is what i considered them to be as well.

      The thing is, and I just want to tell you this so you’re prepared, you better get used to these ‘Adderall nightmares’, because they won’t go away, even after you quit. If you continue your addiction, they’ll keep happening in the form of you running out of Adderall or not having any to take when you need it or something along those lines. But once you quit, it won’t be long before you start having a very different type of Adderall nightmares: I feel it’s very likely, given I experienced the same type of dreams as you describe when I was addicted, that you’ll also experience the same type of dreams as I did when I was quitting (and still have from time to time).

      But these nightmares will have you dealing with your struggle to quit. For me, I started having them about 2-3 months after quitting. They were nightmares because in most of them I relapsed. At one point I think I probably had nightmares of me relapsing 7+ nights in a row. The craziest part about them is… like when I relapsed and popped the pill in my dreams, like the dream would be so real that I actually felt the amphetamine high IN the dream. But they’re fundamentally a good sign, as (in retrospect) I realized they signified that relapse had become my greatest fear – which is obviously a good thing.

      I’ve ran out in the past and went the most 2wks. In those wks I was taking other pills(phentermine,vyvance, whatever I could buy) and drinking every energy drink that’s in store just so I could not crash..hard. But at the amount I am now it’s going to suck way more and at this point i really am scared for my health. This is the most and fastest I’ve gone through a months worth in a short amount of time. How am I going to make it in a few days when I’m all out…this is what had been going over and over in my mind.” – It’s a horrible cycle of getting high and withdrawing, getting high and withdrawing, over and over again. Think of it like this: Yes, when you decide to quit the withdrawal process will suck, but it’ll be the last time you have to deal with it. Because if you continue the addiction, you’re going to wind up dealing with withdrawal for many more days than you will if you just quit.

      Thanks again for sharing, Katie! Best of luck to you and your family. If you’d like to discuss your feelings or update me on the situation or anything else, please email me at But like I said, and even though I’m certainly willing to help, you’d be better off contacting a professional instead. But even if you do that, I’d still be interested to hear how that goes and your feelings about it.

  • Julian Robertson

    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.

    • James Kalìwæ

      Thanks for the kind words, buddy!

      • Malika Gulyamova

        I read quite few articles today, wondering about my life & trying to find … Idk some answers Or I guess, any emotion I can get out of me. Sometimes I feel so numb, just so empty. I don’t have any Family is US, My whole family moved back to Russia and couple years ago I had an incident where I got traumatic brain injury By my Ex husband that I sometimes feel like No matter how much I try to Keep it together Bymyself and move On from it, somehow it follows me around & im stuck…. I moved twice to different states hoping maybe that’ll help, it didn’t. I’m 21 years old that feels old, tired ALL THE TIME! Chronic pain, fatigue, depression you name it! Doctor to doctor to lawyers office so they do something about all my medical bills that I’m stuck with & still without insurance! Left disabled Can’t enjoy the things I used to do, I loved cooking I lost my sense of smell from the beating which means I also can barely taste. And I don’t have many friends either, all my best friends are either in another country or different state. I try to put a brave face on, it’s funny how people are so surprised when I tell them how it really is! Guess I’m that good lol No one knows how I feel Especially my family, I mean It was my choice to stay here alone, that alone is enough worry for them so the only news I tell them are only positive, which unfortunately I haven’t had many. Of course I’m still grateful in this life Like to be alive But … Somedays I get overwhelmed and don’t know why am I being punished further & when will it stop It’s just hard you know? Anyway, Coming across & reading your story has really touched me! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  • Franklin Hernandez

    Congrats dude. Life is too short to waste away on drugs like that. I don’t know you personally – but I’m very proud of you. Stay strong Brother!

    • James Kalìwæ

      Thanks for the kind words! Means a lot.

  • Rachel

    Thank you for writing this. It’s exactly what I needed to read.