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Emily’s Story: From First Dose to Successfully Sober

Here’s a story from the comments (and forums) that covers the entire Adderall and quitting Adderall experience from beginning to end. Thanks to Emily (forum user emmmmm)  for sharing it!

I feel randomly inspired to share my story for the second time ever (first was to my boyfriend of two years now). Here goes nothing!

I was diagnosed with ADD in 2003, and at the time I was in 5th grade. Two years prior to the diagnosis, I was administered IQ and creativity testing, eventually resulting in gifted student placement and an invitation to join MENSA. But by 5th grade, I was completely checked out. My teacher did not understand my sort of unorganized and unconventional ways of doing things, nor was she at all equipped to tailor to a child that had the ability to perform at college-entrance level. So, a letter was sent to my parents requesting that they take me to be tested. And because I was generally lazy at home, frequently daydreamy, and hardly ever listened to anything other than the Powerpuff Girls, my parents obliged.

A few months later, I was placed on 5mg Adderall XR. This was the beginning of what would be my wonder years. I could do everything and actually complete tasks! Even mundane things! YES! Fast forward to my senior year of high school. After receiving the highest score in my class on the ACT, captaining my high school soccer team to their best season to date, taking nearly every AP class offered at my high school, meeting an absolutely amazing guy, and earning the highest scholarship offered to my dream school, it seemed I was on top of the world. I never questioned the small, now-orange (30mg) pill, until the ease of senior year began to make me wish I could be more outspoken with friends, as I realized Adderall made me come across as awkward. Then one fateful day, my mom forgot to refill the prescription in time, and I was sent to school sans medication. My best friend remarked, “You seem different… This is the most fun mood you’ve ever been in!” Indeed, I was much more fun. Giggly, outgoing, sarcastic, able to speak well to others. The seed was planted.

First semester of college, I continued to take Adderall. For someone whose math skill was their least strong, I was taking calculus, accounting, and economics. At that point, I knew that continuing to take the pill was probably in my (and my GPA’s) best interest. (Turns out it wasn’t– I still got a C- in calculus. Even the Adderall couldn’t make me enjoy that!) Second semester though, I was taking a ton of classes that I knew I would actually enjoy, ones that played to what I am more naturally adept at: English, photography, psychology, philosophy, and an economics course (which I actually enjoy). I decided that this was the time to quit Adderall, just to see what would happen.

Turns out that amazing things happened. I found that it was incredibly easy and energizing to wake up in the morning and run to the darkroom with a bagel and a fresh roll of film. Creative pieces that I wrote in English and my newfound willingness to speak in class led to getting invited to do a study abroad with my professor in Ireland this next summer! I realized that I absolutely couldn’t stand philosophy, and learned to grit my teeth and write those icepick-through-the-eye boring analyses of Socrates, which built character and proved that hey, I could do this. I received the highest grade in my class in psychology. My social life picked up and I made many new friends. My boyfriend (yes, the same one from high school :]) noticed a (positive) change in how I carried myself and remarked that it was “much easier to talk to me.” I interviewed and managed to talk my way into getting a position as an RA, which now pays for my room and board completely, and I am getting paid to attend at the premier catholic university in my area. Over the summer, I got a job at the mall in an upscale/expensive clothing store and realized that I have an absolute passion for sales. I frequently double and have several times quadrupled my sales goals. I love it so much that I plan on pursuing a career in sales.

Looking back, it seems so silly that I was scared to quit the drug. Admittedly, going cold turkey had its not-so-pleasant effects– there were times that I would sleep for inhuman amounts of time, and times where I could down an order of sushi and go back to the food court for a full order of cheese sticks (they’re giant greasy Pizza Hut ones). At times, I was cranky and overly outspoken (argumentative) towards my boyfriend because without the drug, I no longer felt the need to unquestioningly comply with whatever he said. But despite the five pounds I gained and the hours of debate I endured with my pre-law boyfriend (he is INCREDIBLY frustrating to argue with), I would not change a single thing.

It’s been a journey. Boyfriend and I have grown closer than we ever have been before simply because there is more openness in communication. I have a job that I love. I have a 3.6 GPA right now and pursuing a career in what I love (although I doodle endlessly and occasionally sleep through lectures I don’t find interesting. Cough, philosophy, cough). School is merely a means to an end that I hope will lead to a future far more fruitful than the years I wasted on Adderall. Admittedly, I did many nice things with it. But what I do without it seem so much more substantial, so much more concrete.

Moral of the story? If you are questioning whether or not you should take the plunge out of the drug, do it. Flush ‘em down the toilet. Never look back. It won’t be easy, but through the trials and tribulations (and the near-comatose post-Adderall sleep habits), a much more fulfilling and enjoyable chapter of your life will emerge. Do it for yourself. Because you are beautiful and worth being the best and most unique you that you can possibly be. And that unique person is waiting, while you are trapped inside that pill bottle. Just do it: you won’t be sorry.

8 Responses to “Emily’s Story: From First Dose to Successfully Sober”

  1. Boss says:

    Your life only seems so much incredibly better after stopping simply because you adapted to the lifestyle which Adderall is… numb if you will… and when you come off it, life seems to flood back in.

    Perhaps we all need to take a step away from life to appreciate it.

  2. Kris says:

    Did adderall affect your bowel movements..? I know this sounds personal.. but it has completely stimulated my body for years and now being off it.. its like my body shut down!.. did anyone else have this problem?

  3. Eric says:

    When I dropped adderall I became more fun, more out going, got tons of girls, and what not, but my school work just shot down the drain, now I’m in high school for my fifth year with a 1.3 GPA not knowing if I can pass. So I decided to get back on it… Go figure you’re lucky.

  4. miranda says:

    I have been questioning if the adderall is what has been effecting my bowel movements, I actually set up a colonoscopy becuz I swear I have every symptom of colon cancer but I do take the adderall, and I don’t plan on stopping till I feel the need.

  5. Jane says:

    Thank you thank you thank you Emily! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling since I’ve been out of school. I get off Adderall for a few days and everything goes super well (I even nailed an interview the other day better than I ever have in my life while I was off of it) and then out of fear I get back on it because I am afraid of eventually crashing from the withdrawal. But hearing your story is so encouraging to me because I see that the positive effects continue, and that it is not just that a little Adderall was still left in my system, which is something I convince myself of every time I get off of it.

    It’s weird for me too that, like you, I somehow feel more clear headed socially AND intellectually now when I get off it, although before when I was in high school and college I felt the opposite. I think it’s kind of a testament to the shittiness of our school system, which often punishes creativity and rewards conformity.

    On that note, Eric, I want to tell you something that I wish someone had told me when I was in high school (although you are most likely out by now): remember that Adderall is designed to limit you; it keeps you in a classroom mentality. Your GPA, especially in high school, is not necessarily an indication of your intelligence or your ability to function in the world. You’re probably a lot smarter than you realize. But of course you’ve gotta be GPA-conscious to be able to do what you want to do in the world, so I understand why you would get back on it. It’s a tough situation, but I just want to remind you, wherever you are now, that even though you may need Adderall to pass a class, you most certainly don’t need Adderall to be smart.

    Anyway, that’s another discussion. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Emily. This is so wonderful to hear. And thank you for this site. It may be saving my life.

  6. NoDderall says:

    Although in not 50% clean, I have attempted to stay far far away from this drug. It’s like the drug has the ability to control you, even when ur not on it. I admit to being naive and mindless for glorifying this pill. When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I thought that I had nothing wrong with me. I saw myself as a normal kid who was just expressing his personality.I hate how 90% of the kids at school are diagnosed with ADHD. My life wasn’t terrible until it took a hold of me. My tolerance also made me take more pills to feel the effects. I became very spacey cognitively and I became depressed as heck. For months, I wondered what could have made me feel different and disconnected. It wasn’t so severe at first and the withdrawals were mild. Insomnia definitely made me lose 99% of my energy to stay awake the next day. Each time I was stressed out or unsatisfied, I popped one more pill to raise my mood a little. Now, even at the normal dose, I would experience withdrawals. I couldn’t believe how anyone had the motivation to live under the devastating effects of the drug. I thought that recovery would be miles away each time I used it. I no longer cared about school grades and why would it matter when ur mind doesn’t feel clear. It’s almost impossible to “try” or aim for a “C” during withdrawals. I was always strung out once a week. My mind was pretty foggy and my emotion was so numb. Although I haven’t done coke or meth, I know that these stimulants are relatively the same thing. Adderall transforms you into a zombie junkie who relies on the dopamine rush to function . Okay, I stopped doing it 24/7 but I still use it. I gave it a rest for 34 days, then I felt alive. I had work so I was deceived by the false energy that adderall gives. I popped it again and IV been clean for 5 days. I know that one day, I will forget everything that adderall has done to me. Don’t let your kids be put on methamphetamine’s weaker form. It will leave you feeling lifeless.

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