Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, and other attention deficit disorders. Adderall is a psychostimulant made from a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
Because Adderall carries the potential of being abused and can be addictive, it was deemed a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
According to a SAMHSA’s 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 425,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 reported abusing amphetamine products such as Adderall. The same survey found that 2.5 million adults between ages 18 and 25 had abused Adderall or similar prescription medications.
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A Cautionary Tale of Adderall Abuse
Many young adults, especially college students, who have reported Adderall abuse said they did so in order to stay awake longer or to enhance academic performance. College students often feel overwhelmed by the combination of academic, professional, and social obligations they now must tend to, and so turn to stimulants like Adderall to push their bodies and minds to their limits. Adderall is a dangerous drug to begin with; when people start abusing it, things can go downhill quickly.
Taylor wanted a nice apartment, straight As, and a colorful social life; with Adderall, she got way more than what she bargained for.
“When I was a freshman, needless to say, school was much easier because all of my classes were just introductory courses and didn’t require a whole lot of dedication compared to the classes I’m taking now. Back then, I served at a popular restaurant downtown around 3-4 days a week to pay for living expenses, and I usually had sorority meetings or other events on the weekends.
“My sophomore year, I got an apartment with one of my friends. I had to start working 5-6 nights each week in order to keep up with rent, bills, groceries, etc. That same year, I also became the VP of sisterhood event planning for my sorority.
“During my junior year, not only were my classes harder, but my workload as a whole increased even more when one of my professors asked if I would be a TA for his organic chemistry lab since I did so well in the class last when I took it the semester before. I figured that would look really good on my transcript, so I told him, of course I would.
After a while, though, I started to feel physically and mentally drained ALL THE TIME; like I was running on empty. ”
“So I got a prescription for Adderall to give me the boost ‘I needed’ to get my through the day on 5 hours of sleep for weeks at a time until I magically had a day off with no homework and no sorority meetings or events.”
“I started out on 10 mg a day. But after a few weeks or so of that, I started taking anywhere from 20-100 mg a day, depending on how I felt and what my plans were for the day, just to try to get to that same level of “I CAN DO ANYTHING!” I felt the first couple weeks I was on it.”
“That’s when things started going downhill. Every time I would run out, I would feel like absolute shit. And I knew nothing would make feel better except for more Adderall. So, for the last week or two of each month, I would end up buying some off one of my friends who had script for it.”
“I didn’t want to need it, but at this point, I felt like I had no choice. I knew how terrible of a person I could be when I started to crash, so in my mind, the solution seemed to be, ‘Just don’t crash!’”
“Looking back, I was a mess. I would wake up around 840, leaving me just enough time to pick up some coffee on campus before heading to my 9 am [class]. I felt like I had to wear a ton of makeup to try and distract people from the fact that my hair hadn’t been washed in a couple days.”
“I would take about 20 mg in the morning, and then another 10 mid-day, all without eating anything until maybe 5 or 6 o’clock. I would get out of my last class at 4:15, and then drive downtown to work, usually taking at least 2 more 10s when I got to work—3 if I was supposed to close. Then I wouldn’t get home until 2 or 3 in the morning. If I was lucky enough to be able to fall asleep, I would either wake up late or miss class completely because I had crashed so hard. ”
“The only reason I got a decent grade in any of my 9 am classes was because I would trade people Adderall for their notes whenever a big exam was coming up. ”
“I started losing friends because of my addiction. At the time, I just convinced myself that ‘we had grown apart,’ but in reality, I had become insufferable to be around between my manic episodes and explosive temper whenever I ran out.”
Adderall Addiction Stories: Health Problems & Personality Changes
By listening to the personal stories of others who have experienced Adderall addiction, friends and family can learn about what signs and symptoms to look for if they fear someone close to them may be abusing or addicted to Adderall.
Sleep often eludes abusers of Adderall. Those who are addicted to Adderall will often stay awake for days at a time, and then crash—hard.
Caity’s Adderall addiction story— wired weeks and weekend crashes
“When I was in junior high, my mom would give me Adderall during the week to help me ‘concentrate better’ in school. At first, I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I was fidgety and anxious. But my mom was so excited to hear my teachers say I was doing better in class, so I figured it would be better if I just continued to take it.”
“By the time I was in high school, my doctor had upped my dosage to 30 mg per day. Because the dose was more than I needed, I found it really hard to fall asleep at night. I would stay up until 3 or 4 every morning, and wake up with just enough time to roll out of bed, brush my teeth, change clothes, and go to school, which started at 8. Getting out of bed was torture. But I knew I’d feel better after taking my meds. ”
“Because I slept so little during the week, I would use all day Saturday and Sunday to ‘catch up’ on my sleep. My mom kinda started to worry because I would sleep until like 4 in the afternoon/evening. She would try making me get up earlier than that, but she said I was basically in a coma until I decided to wake up for myself. Eventually, my dad just calmed her down by telling her ‘it was just a phase’ and that I was just ‘being a teenager.’ ”
“I don’t know exactly when I realized that this was not just because ‘I was being a normal teenager’—that it was the Adderall doing this to me–; all I know is I was miserable.”
Tremors or tics
Austin’s tics always get worse when he takes his Adderall
Austin was diagnosed with ADHD as a young child. Now in in his 20s, he says Adderall helps him on days when he has a lot to do and can’t afford to mess around or get distracted. He knows a lot of people who take it for recreational purposes, but for him, “it was never like that.
When Austin was 14, he was diagnosed with a mild form of Tourette’s syndrome, which caused him to shout out certain phrases whenever he was ‘triggered’ by a related sound or image. Eventually, Austin learned to make these urges less noticeable by either blinking rapidly or cleaning his throat.
After years of taking Adderall on a regular basis, Austin began to notice when the same amount wasn’t doing as much for him as it used to. So, his doctor increased his dosage slightly.
Austin followed the new regimen for a while, but not for long. Now, he says, he rarely takes his Adderall at all because it makes his tics ten times worse than when he doesn’t take it. His blinking makes it difficult to do things that require constant attention, such as driving, and he often gets embarrassed by his throat-clearing when he’s around other people because making noises like that can come off as rude in a number of situations. In short, for Austin, taking Adderall makes already-difficult social situations much more burdensome than they should be.
Stacey drinks protein shakes so her parents won’t find out about her Adderall addiction.
Stacey started taking Adderall in college to help her get through the week after partying all weekend. She said needed “something like coffee, but times ten” to help keep her from falling asleep in class. So, she started buying Adderall from one of her friends who had a prescription.
At first, she would just take it before an exam or in order to finish a big project. After a while, though, she found herself buying Adderall on a more regular basis— so much so that she had to find two or three other dealers to sell them to her once her friend’s prescription ran out each month.
Stacey was going to school about four hours away from home, so, while she liked spending time with her family, she only saw them once every few months or so when she would go up there for the weekend.
The past few times she had gone home, her parents had commented on how good she looked. She told them she was working out four days a week, but that was a lie.
The most recent time she went home for the weekend, her mom told her she looked skinny, but judging by the way she had said it, Stacey knew she didn’t mean, “in a good way.” She spent the next two days trying to convince her mom nothing was wrong so she would stop worrying.
Stacey’s excited to go home for Thanksgiving, but she doesn’t want to hear about how she “needs to make sure she’s taking care of herself,” or how “it’s unnatural” to look the way she does. So for the past month and a half, she’s been drinking protein shakes (at least two a day) so her mom doesn’t pester her about her weight when she goes home this time.
Jake is recently single due to her inability to control her Adderall addiction
“I knew I loved Adderall from the moment I started using it. Adderall helped me stay awake when I was flipping between first and third shifts at work; Adderall helped me keep my apartment clean; Adderall helped me get s*** done; it literally made me feel like I could do anything. I never even considered quitting Adderall until me and my girlfriend starting fighting… a lot.”
“When we started dating, I was taking Adderall recreationally every once in a blue moon when one of my friends happened to score some for free from the pharmacy his girlfriend worked at. A few months after I started dating Kelly, I stared finding different ways to get it so I could have it whenever I wanted and not just when my friend happened to get his hands on some. Since I worked so much, I made more than enough money to buy as much as I wanted, while still being able to pay rent and bills and take Kelly out at least once or twice a week. ”
“It was perfect at first, because Kelly didn’t have to deal with my crashes. If I was cranky because I was coming down, I would just tell her I either picked up an extra shift at work or that I was just really tired from work. ”
“Then we moved in together. She started to see the whole me instead of just the high-on-Adderall me. I started snapping on her for no reason. She’s one of the most chill girls I’ve ever met, but for some reason, when I was coming down from taking Adderall, I found her to be so annoying she actually infuriated me. Looking back, she wasn’t being annoying—I was being moody, rude, and just downright mean at times. ”
“Now, it actually surprises me that she stayed with me for as long as she did. I was terrible to her. Then I would try to be really sweet to try and make up for it, but that would only make her hurt even more the next time I got shitty with her because I’d worked so hard to make her believe I was gonna treat her better just a few days before. ”
“Eventually, she stopped believing the apologies. At one point, she even stopped crying when I would snap at her; instead, she just gave it right back to me. We would get into vicious, nasty arguments over stupid shit. The relationship as a whole just became toxic.”
“When she finally broke up with me, I was still in denial. She could see it was the Adderall that was causing my extreme ups and downs, and she tried to tell me, but at the time, I just thought she was being a judgmental bitch. ”
“I realize now, that probably 95% of the arguments we had while I was taking Adderall consistently were my fault.”
Adderall Addiction Stories That End in Recovery
Taylor learns that she is only one human being.
“Eventually, I came to the realization that I can only push my body and my brain so far. I started taking Adderall so I could keep up with work, school, and my friends… But after losing the very friends I was trying to keep, I started to think maybe Adderall wasn’t as “magical” as I had previously pictured it to be.”
“Luckily, even though I had damaged a fair amount of friendships over the course of my use, being a member of a soririty saved me from feeling completely alone. I ended up telling them just how much I was taking. I half expected to be kicked out of the sorority, or at least shunned, but I underestimated the strength of the bond we shared. ”
“Our connections within the community helped us find some great information about outpatient programs that would help me get healthy again. ”
“I wanted to be able to support myself like an adult, but if I knew if I kept straining myself as much as I had been, I would end up in the same exact position sooner or later. I told my parents about how stressed I felt and they offered to match what I made each month if I promised to cut my hours at work in half. I was so grateful. Even though I wanted to ‘be an adult,’ I should have known that asking my parents for a little help would be a thousand times better than trying to solve my problems with Adderall, or any type of drug for that matter.”
Caity educates herself about Adderall’s many side effects, and realizes she’s much better off without it.
“When I was a junior, I had a write a research paper for my English class. Our teacher let us choose our own topics as long as whatever we picked could be backed up by scientific research. She gave us a set of example topics to help us get started. One of the topics she gave was ‘How alcohol affects the brain.’” She talked about how the body processes alcohol and what chemical changes take place in the brain to make someone look and act drunk. ”
“While she was explaining the rest of the research process and what kind of sources we should be using, I was already planning out my own paper! Her example topic had given me the perfect idea for a topic: How Adderall affects the body/brain. ”
“So, while the rest of the class was busy complaining about how stupid this research paper was, I was trying to get my hands on all the information I could from scholarly articles and library books that I could find. I found out, almost immediately, that Adderall often causes the same kind of sleep patterns I was currently experiencing. It was scary reading all the information about it at first, but then, I started to feel relieved—relieved that there was an explanation for how I was feeling. ”
“When I had finished a rough draft of my research paper, I asked my mom to read it over for me. I’m sure she thought I just wanted her to edit it, but I told her I thought she’d find it very interesting. ”
“I could tell she didn’t know how to react at first… She gave me her edits and said something like, ‘Hm. That is interesting,’ and then said she had to go start dinner.”
“The next day, when I got home from school, she and my dad said they were going to talk to the doctor about taking me off of the Adderall. They said they were sorry and that they felt bad for putting me on it in the first place. It was just that they had always liked this doctor, and they trusted him, so they didn’t think anything he recommended could ever be something that was so potentially dangerous. ”
“By now, I’ve stopped taking the Adderall. It’s so nice to feel… well, normal! When I was on Adderall, I didn’t really spend the night anywhere because I was embarrassed of how much I slept on the weekends, and at the time, I couldn’t imagine getting up at a ‘normal’ time. Now, I go to friends’ houses to sleepover like a regular teenager and I don’t feel so weird and tense during the day. I never thought I’d say this ever in my life, but I’m glad our teacher made us do that research paper!”
Stacey turns to her parents for help
“After a while, I stopped drinking the protein shakes because honestly, I hated them, I thought they were nasty. I dropped some weight again, and I thought I still looked healthy, but that went out the window when I heard someone in the back of one of my classes one day go, “I know… she looks awful. Her clothes are literally falling off of her… probably bulimic.” My instincts told me they were talking about me. But then, I brushed it off and just told myself I was being paranoid. ”
“Later that day, I was looking through some of my old pictures on Facebook. I looked in the mirror and realized I looked almost like a completely different person. I thought back to the time around when the photo was taken… I didn’t think I was fat or anything back then. So, that must be what healthy looks like.”
“I realized my parents had been right to worry. I looked sickly. That night, I told my mom I was coming home that weekend. ”
“When I got home, she hugged me. When she stopped, I saw the look on her face. But before she could say anything, I asked her if we could talk for a minute. I told her and my dad that I had been taking Adderall. I didn’t say exactly how much, but it didn’t really matter because we all knew that whatever it was, it was way too much. ”
“I could tell that they were just more relieved than anything that I finally came to them because I didn’t get a lecture. They helped me research some of the different treatment options around where I was living. Then they told me how much they loved me. I felt the knot in my stomach disappear, and for the first time in a while, I felt like I was in control.”
Jake realizes his mistakes
“Once I realized what a jackass I’d been, I started weaning myself off of the Adderall. Whenever I start to feel a crash coming on, I just go for a run or something—and now that I’m not spending so much money getting Adderall, I actually have the time to work out because I told my boss I wanted to cut down on my hours a bit. Yeah, it was nice to be able to buy whatever I want whenever I wanted, but I still make enough to pay for the necessities. Besides, a little budgeting never hurt anyone. ”
“I told Kelly I was trying to cut back, but she’s heard that from me before. So it wasn’t all that difficult to understand when she told me she wasn’t sure if she believed me. I told her I knew I had a lot to make up for… I don’t know that she’ll give me another chance, even once I am totally clean. If she does, that’d be amazing, but if she doesn’t end up wanting to date me again, then I’ll still feel better than I have in a long time, knowing I’m doing the right thing for my body and my sanity.”
How to Avoid Writing Your Own Adderall Addiction Story
Sometimes, it takes hearing someone else’s Adderall addiction story for other people to realize that they too may have a problem. Adderall isn’t the first thing a person thinks of when he or she hears the word addiction because it is a completely legal medication that is prescribed by health care professionals on a daily basis. Hopefully, reading some of these Adderall addiction stories can change some perspectives as to just how dangerous the drug really is.
For those who think they may have a problem, these last few Adderall addiction stories are excellent examples of people who truly thought they could not function without Adderall. Then they quit. After the initial withdrawals, a person’s quality of life increases immeasurably.
- Varga M. D. Adderall abuse on college campuses: a comprehensive literature review. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work. 2012; 293-313. doi: 10.1080/15433714.2010.525402. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22694135.
- Campus Drug Prevention. Prescription drug abuse common among college students, including those at OU. https://www.campusdrugprevention.gov/news/prescription-drug-abuse-common-among-college-students-including-those-ou.