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A reader’s questions: What if you have a job, wife, and kids that depend on your Adderall addiction?

Reader Dave left this comment on the Your Challenge page:

Here are a few questions I would like to hear opinions on because I think there are alot of others in this situation.

What do you do?

If you have a masters degree in physics (which I hate it very much, but pays extreemly well) that you were never smart enough to get in the first place if it werent for adderall?

If you have large student loans, a large mortgage, an exotic car etc and your in debt over your eyeballs and the only way to pay for it is with your current job?

If you loose your job and cant get another, the current job market is very competative.

If you have a family that depends on your stability and income?

If you wake up still drunk from the night before every day and have to go to work everday?

If you have extreemly high blood pressure with weight spiraling out of control?

I am very happy for all of you that were able to quit, but I find this site a little too optimistic and out of touch with the reality of some. Unfortunately for people in my situtation the best I can do for myself and family is enjoy it while I’m here and make sure they are secure by keeping a good life ensurance policy on myself. I’ve lived life without adderall before and I was always poor and living in povery. I’m not going back there, Id rather die with dignity.

-Dave

Dear Dave, 

Why are you searching the web for tips on quitting adderall? Why are you even reading this blog? Why did you pursue it? What thought or urge in your heart made you look for it? Probably the same one that made you bitterly wish it could be that easy for you.

I’m not going to pretend that your life isn’t probably a thousand times more complicated than mine was when I decided to quit. 

But I do know this. If you had already made up your mind completely that Adderall is the way for you and you’re just going to have to live with it forever because you’d “rather die with dignity”, then you wouldn’t be reading this blog. You wouldn’t be searching for an answer because you wouldn’t be asking the question.

You know there is something more to be had from your life that could be attained if you weren’t on Adderall. And you want it. You’re curious about it. You just can’t see a way out.

You have to decide how badly you want it. You have to decide how badly you want to risk betting all your chips on that little voice in your heart.

If you can make up your mind that you want to fill-in that eternal question mark; that you want to find out what you were built to do naturally, then the rest is just a question of “how”. And “how” can always be answered. It just needs a strong “why” answer first.

Let me see if I can address your concerns one at a time…

If you have a masters degree in physics (which I hate it very much, but pays extreemly well) that you were never smart enough to get in the first place if it werent for adderall?

Your concern here is twofold.

1. I am already well-established in something I don’t naturally like. Fine, whatever, I don’t like it, but I’ve sunk so many years into it,  I’m kind of good at it, it provides for me, and that would be a horrific waste if I didn’t use it.

I think part of what you hate about physics is not that you hate physics/your current field alltogether, but that it’s not all you wanted to focus on in life. Imagine you found a way out of your current profession. Imagine you were already past it and your day was consumed by something completely different…something you really loved spending all day on. And then you go out to dinner with some friends and some physics questions come up in the conversation. You’d light up. You’d probably really enjoy talking about it and even get a little nastalgic. 

I know this because I am in the same position you describe with programming and web software development. The only reason I hate it is because I resent that it pulls me away from my purpose by consuming so much of my life. I hate that I have to do it and that I have to do it every single day and full time and it’s all that I get to do with my day even though it’s so far from the core interests of my heart…but there are aspects I would enjoy and like about programming and web software development if I wasn’t forced into it. If I could pick and choose…if programming was only a small, secondary part of my life…if the scale were reverse and programming was my hobby and something I really cared about was my full time job…that might work.

I have the same concern as you about wasting all of my IT knowledge. You know why? You know what job I hear my heart choosing for me now that I’m off Adderall? Police officer and writer. How far removed is that from web software development? Pretty damned far. 

But you know what? I’m not worried. I have this strange feeling that it’s all going to come together once my day is filled with the passions of my heart. I have this strange feeling that once I take that step into that other career (police officer), I’m going to stumble upon some adjacent desitiny that will connect all the dots…will use all my skills in all areas aquired to date…including programming and web software development (still waiting to see how that one gets reconnected but I have faith).

It is my fervant belief that the purpose of seemingly unrelated skills is only revealed by your ultimate destiny. And then it all comes together.

When I look back at my life, I can’t see it going any other way. I don’t like programming (as a career), and I know it’s not what I’m ultimately meant to focus my life on, but at the same time I can look back to my earliest years and recognize the beginnings of a decent programmer…I look back at my IT career that I accidentally fell into and realize that too many coincidences led me there…it was pretty much predestined that I spend some time in IT…the difference with me is that now, off Adderall, I remember that I was never meant to spend my whole life there…just enough time for me to learn whatever I was supposed to learn to do whatever I’m supposed to do with it. Maybe that’s too much faith for you. But I promise I will update this blog when my faith turns to fact for me. I know it will. I can hear my heart telling me my faith will be more than justified. And you should hear the same voice in yours.

2. I wasn’t even smart enough to get my degree on my own without the adderall.

Correction: You weren’t motivated enough to get your physics degree on your own without adderall. Adderall does not make you smarter. It feels like that, but it doesn’t. It just makes you passionate and focused and confident. You can feel the exact same way naturally but you have to be working on something you really, really enjoy. There have been times when I’ve pulled away from something I’m working and had the thought (God, I’m so tweaked out…I better drink some water or calm down or something…wait…I’m not tweaked out…I haven’t taken a pill in a year! I’m just that into this task naturally! Ha!).

If anything, you’re actually smarter without Adderall. It just takes something genuinely interesting to light you up. Adderall does not raise your IQ (take a test before and after if you don’t believe me). It makes you think more, but not neccessarily better. I think the “smarter” feeling is actually just confidence that you need to be developing naturally (and then you’ll be/feel “even smarter” because it’ll be real confidence).

If you wake up still drunk from the night before every day and have to go to work everday?

Ok that’s a whole other problem. Maybe related to the adderall if you’re on the up-down cycle and drinking the alcohol to come down from the pills. Is that what you’re doing? Because if so then you really should cut out the booze and just move your final adderall dose of the day a bit earlier so you come down in time to sleep at night. And FWIW, belive me falling asleep at night won’t be a problem when you quit the pills.

If you are drinking for any other reason, like as an escape or to lubricate a home life you have problems accepting/dealing with when you’re sober/on just pills, then that may be a whole different question/answer that I’m gonna need some more information on first.

If you have extreemly high blood pressure with weight spiraling out of control?

It seems strange to me that you’d have problems with (over) weight on Adderall. That’s kind of the opposite of what happens with most people. If you’re weight is spiraling out of control while you’re on a drug that is notorious for pusing weight down as a side-effect, then I’d reccommend even more that you quit Adderall.

One of the aspects of quitting adderall that I haven’t yet touched on in this blog is the oddly-natural increased urge to excercise regurlarly and do physical activities. I can’t explain it, but it’s happened to me every time I’ve quit in the past and doubly-so for this final time when I quit for good. At some point, usually a week or two after your last pill, you just have this odd thought come accross your brain that says “I want to move. I want to do something physical.” 

If you have trouble excercising on Adderall it’s probably because you’re depending on straight descipline and have no natural urge. Quit the pills and you’ll get that natural urge eventually I’m almost positive. I have seen it in myself and several friends who have quit. On Adderall I would work out maybe once a month “when I felt like doing it for the novelty of doing something good for my body”. Now, a year off the pills, I’m in nearly the best shape of my life. I do a 2-3 mile run at least twice a week because I feel like it. And that’s in addition to lifting weights 3 times a week.

If you loose your job and cant get another, the current job market is very competative.

That only matters if you have to turn back. If you give up. The whole point is here that your heart doesn’t want another job in that field. But that doesn’t mean you have to let go prematurely. Just when it’s time.

I have the same fear. I’m about to abandon the chance of a promising career in the internet business and every oppurtunity to know for a fact that I could have a family-supporting salary if needed it…I’m about to abandon it knowing that I can probably never go back…that while I’m gone the industry will probably pass me by and nobody wants an old geek (they want the young one full of idealism and bleeding-edge skills)….and I’m abandoning all of that on faith. Faith that somehow when you follow your heart it all works out. Even the money.

Perhaps especially the money.

I don’t need to faith to know that being a Police Officer will be exactly what I need to balance myself and make every day an adventure…that just requires knowing myself and what I need to grow. I know such a job will never provide financially enough for me. But I have this odd sense that somehow that part will work itself out…probably by me discovering some related destiny that I could’ve only discovered by taking the first step of becoming a police officer despite it being financially irrational for a little bit.

You have to have that faith. You have to maintain that faith. Or you will not be able to do this.

Unfortunately for people in my situtation the best I can do for myself and family is enjoy it while I’m here and make sure they are secure by keeping a good life ensurance policy on myself.

But you’re not enjoying it! You’re drinking every day and searching the internet for advice on quitting adderall and secretly hating your job and worried about your increasingly-serious health issues!

I’ve lived life without adderall before and I was always poor and living in poverty.

How long ago? Were you happier then than you are now? Did you feel more true and genuine depsite your poorness/poverty? Did you feel more like “yourself” back then? It takes time and the right discovery to turn natural happiness and being yourself into something profitable. Don’t blame yourself if you just hadn’t found that thing yet.

If you have large student loans, a large mortgage, an exotic car etc and your in debt over your eyeballs and the only way to pay for it is with your current job?

If you have a family that depends on your stability and income?

Look, Dave, this is where I feel like I’m treading a line…answering questions above my experience level. I don’t want you to come looking for me with a gun when you try this and it all goes to hell for you and you lose a whole family and your kids go into foster care or something horrible like that. I offer no garuntees.

All I can tell you is that if you decide to do this, everything I have ever obsereved in my life and in others, every gut feeling I’ve ever had, and all of my own direct experience, tells me it will work for you; tells me you will find a way; tells me that it may get very messy, but in the end you will be standing on a mountain of your own achievement with a glowing heart, laughing at how it all played out.

But maybe in your situation you want to gradually wean yourself off (vs. cold turkey). Maybe in your situation you want to save up some money first. Maybe you should wait a year until I’ve completed my own grand experiment and updated this post saying either “Oh my God, it worked just like I knew it would!” or “I’m closing this blog and going back on the pill because I just destroyed my whole life for nothing”. 

But be warned: If you find yourself using those “maybe you should” statements as excuses, disregard them. Only hear them if you actually still quit. Do not just use those statements to give voice to your procrastination. And for others reading this post that do not have a wife and kids and debt up to your eyeballs: Do not follow that advice. Quit now and take your chances or you risk wasting another year or more of your life that you could be spending making real forward progress with the self you are underneath.

It’s important that you’re good for your family. I can’t argue that.

But if you’re drinking every night and have serious health problems and you’re secretly misserable about your job, I’ve got to believe that your current family life isn’t exactly as rosey as it could be. And if your health feels like it’s so at risk that you’re talking about good life insurance being your “good husband/father card” then you’re pretty damn far gone. I don’t know you and I don’t know your family, but I’m guessing they’d rather have a husband/dad that “went through this crappy period where we couldn’t afford new shoes and he was really emotional but then became better than he ever was and we love him some much and he’s so amazing today you should meet him” than a husband/dad who “died X years ago but left us some money”.

There’s something I wish I would have said to my (now-ex) girlfriend before I quit adderall: “Short term this may destroy us, but long term it is the only way to save us.” As much as it killed me to lose her, I know it wasn’t right like it was, and if I ever get it back, our relationship will be a thousand times better than it ever could have been before.

I will leave you with that advice now,

Short term this may destroy you, but long-term it is the only way to save you. 

If that hits home for you. If your heart knows that to be true. Then quit. Find a way. Otherwise, keep taking your pills and living exactly the life you’re living now.

3 Responses to “A reader’s questions: What if you have a job, wife, and kids that depend on your Adderall addiction?”

  1. Erin says:

    Dave,

    Are you happy? Have you ever discussed these things with your wife? Did she know you before you started taking adderall? Are you sure you aren’t making excuses so you can keep taking adderall? I think your wife deserves to know what’s going on with you. I think if she truly loves you, she’ll want what’s best for you. You’ll find a way to work everything out. Yes, you are facing a lot of extremely difficult challenges, but is the alternative really worth it?

    I know I don’t have much time off adderall to be one for offering my opinion, but I will tell you my experience and what I know to be true thus far.

    First, my relationship with my fiance is better than it’s ever been. He told me just yesterday that he was so happy I’m off adderall b/c I’m nice to him all the time. Hence, I was a completely different person before. He never knew what he was gonna get when he walked through the door. I was an emotional train wreck. I sometimes think that it was like I had bipolar. I was usually in 1 of 3 states:

    1)Cracked out on adderall (non-stop speed talking,cleaning the house/doing home improvement projects to the point of neglecting him, chain-smoking, working psychotically, and drinking heavily/blackouts)

    2)Coming down from being cracked out(angry, argumentative, hostile, ultra-sensitive, defensive, aggressive, and very unpredictable)
    *We’d usually get in a fight at this point

    3)Detoxing from the pills b/c I’d run out early and would spend the entire time sleeping/eating/ignoring him.

    The hardest part was not thinking about or realizing how any of my behavior was affecting him. I only saw it from my perspective. I couldn’t understand why he was so mad at me all the time when I had spent my entire day off cleaning the house and doing things which I thought would make him happy. What I finally realized in the end was that he just wanted the “old me” back that he fell in love with. I was like a walking time bomb and nothing at all like the person he first met. This was excruciatingly hard to deal with b/c I was so much in love with him and those pills at the same time. The only reason I stopped was b/c a good friend of mine called and told me about her “pill addiction” and I realized I was seriously addicted to adderall. I was taking twice as much as prescribed and I couldn’t imagine ever stopping. As I thought about how much I had changed as a person and how I cared more about those stupid ass pills than anything or anyone else, I was scared.

    Luckily, God helped me realize I needed to stop asking questions and choose life.

    I canceled our wedding plans for May 09 so that I could get myself together off adderall and stay sober. I don’t know if our relationship will even work out at this point, but I knew in my heart that I had to at least get myself straightened out first. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to face the reality that my life might completely change and we could even possibly break up. I love my fiance more than anything and just the thought of us breaking up tears me apart inside. However, I know if I’d stayed on adderall our marriage had disaster written all over it and we probably would’ve end up divorced.

    I think the key to all of this is that you have to be willing to take a few steps(or giant leaps even)backwards in order to walk forward. Luckily, when I stepped backwards, God reached out his hand to help me. I know now that I can’t walk forward without him. He is helping me understand my purpose in life. He has been helping me understand what is truly important and what is not. I know he has a plan for all of us. He is waiting patiently for each and everyone of us to seek him and know him. He wants only what is best for us, but he usually won’t help us unless we ask. I will keep you in my prayers.

    Erin

  2. n says:

    As a firefighter on a busy truck that runs after midnight on several calls (24 hours on / 48 hours off) sometimes I need to take dexedrine to function the next day because the next day I am working my second job which requires a lot of concentration. I feel stuck because I have a side and toddler at home. I have mortgage, bills, etc. I have to work a second job to support my family. Working a second job after a 24 hour shift in which I only got 3 hours of sleep at best sucks. I work about 74 hours a week sometimes. It’s grueling. There is a reason that the U.S. air force gives dexedrine to its pilots on long missions. I know of many firefighters that routinely take adderrall or dexedrine just to get through their demanding shifts. Our profession is one in which we are constantly being called for help…all day and night. It’s emotionally, mentally and physically draining. Eat or be eaten…survival of the fittest. Training, more training, more responsibility, policies, accountability,liability looming in your head in this sue happy country of ours. All this places an extraordinary amount of pressure and stress on some of us, the pills are our coping mechanism. I quit adderrall because of the insomnia it caused me and the severe depression I would experience if I stopped taking it for a day or two. I am now prescribed dexedrine which I only take if I didn’t sleep the night before and have to work that day. I just came back from a 2 week vacation and was completely off the dexedrine and I felt great ! Relaxed , energetic and happy. Back to work a few days ago , had a sleepless night, had to work the day after and back on dexedrine. Luckily I only take it if I really need it. In this business we see addicts all the time and the ugly results of their addictions. I count my blessings daily. Good luck to all those out there trying to get off adderrall. It was tough more me and I had to wean off of it using thr recommend schedule on this site. It helped me tremendously. I was in a sever depression for about 1 month, but so happy to have quit adderall. Dexedrine, at least with me, has proven to be an excellent substitute. One in which I can stop and not feel depressed and one in which I am not addicted.

  3. Eric says:

    Dave really needs to grammar check before Dave decides to post anything.

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