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The Myth that Adderall “Trains your Brain” How to Focus

Some psychiatrists tell their patients that the proper function of Adderall is to “train your brain how to focus like this naturally”. You take a small dose until your brain “learns how to focus” and then ultimately you won’t need the Adderall anymore. That’s the idea. That’s what they tell you. Sounds nice. But that’s not always how it plays out.

I have spoken to a lot of Adderall users, both through this blog and through friends and acquaintances in my personal life over the years. I have seen many cases where this is what their doctor told them. I have seen only a few where that’s actually what happened.

Here’s how a new Adderall prescription plays out for most of the people I talk to…

First you start taking the little dose that your doctor prescribes to “help you learn to concentrate”.

At first it works like a charm and you’re able to focus on (and even enjoy) your school work.

Your grades shoot up.

You’re doing so well. The new prescription your doctor gave you is helping your life so much.

The Adderall has no emotional value for you.

You take your dose exactly as scheduled by your doctor and don’t think much about it except that it’s helping a lot.

But eventually you start associating those little blue/orange pills with that wonderful productivity feeling.

And then your schedule changes; starts to get inconsistent. Maybe you start college and have classes at different times on different days, or maybe you take on more responsibilities at work because of your newfound productivity. Whatever the case, your perscribed “take one dose at 9am and another at lunch” plan doesn’t work so well for you anymore.

So you start deciding when to dose according to your schedule. And eventually you’re just dosing yourself whenever you feel like you need it. When you need to do some work, you take an Adderall.

And then one day you find yourself running out of pills before the end of the month because you use a few extra on late-night study sessions and such.

So you tough-out not having any for a few days and get your refill. But it happens again the next month, and the month after that. You keep running out towards the end of the month. Maybe you start borrowing from other prescribed friends when you run low. Eventually you go back to your doctor for a dosage increase (or keep living on the “use what you need, run out, crash/borrow some, get a refill” cycle).

Once you start dosing yourself “whenever you need it” (which many users do do), the potential for abuse goes way up (as you can imagine).

Even if you avoid most of the abusive tendencies that come from easily-accessible dosage increases, even if you keep your doses small…you’re already hooked.

You’ve picked up the deeply-ingrained habit of popping a pill whenever you need to do work. You’ve formed a strong neural association in your brain that says: “effort requires Adderall”. The relationship between “effort” and “Adderall” is linked in your mind.

Now tell me you can just “not need it anymore”. Get to this point and spend one day trying to work without the pill and come tell me how well Adderall “trained your brain how to focus naturally”.

The truth is often the tragic opposite of what the psychiatrist pitches: Adderall completely strips the user of his/her ability to focus and do work naturally and makes them dependent on a pharmacuetical stimulant.

The exception: Will power, small doses, and actually needing it. I have also met plenty people who were able to keep their dose low, consistent, and even quit Adderall after a short period of use. It is possible with willpower and with the right attitude. Plus there are people out there who need it, and if you’re one of them the above cycle may not a apply to you. But for many people who search for this site (Quitting Adderall), the above story should hit close to home. If it doesn’t, then this site is probably not for you.

29 Responses to “The Myth that Adderall “Trains your Brain” How to Focus”

  1. Kayden says:

    Hello,
    I could not agree more with the things mentioned in this article, i think you’ve actually nailed every key point, while putting a lot in perspective for me at the same time. I had no idea how serious my addiction was without this site as an outsiders perspective. I was never told i had a problem until it was way to late, i can even recall one incident where i was punished for discarding my pills(because of are financial status at the time)even after i had explained it made me feel like i lost every thing that made me…”me”. Once again thank you. Oh and a side note, not to go against anything you’ve said but my cousin is also taking it. He only needs it about once a week if that, he’s the ONLY person i’ve seen adderall work for.

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Kayden,

    Sometimes it’s hard for outsiders (i.e., your parents) to understand your problem with the drug. They don’t understand the loss of self. The just think you’re overreacting. “What’s your problem? It’s just medicine. It is morally no different than cough syrup or antibiotics. And look how much it has helped you! I don’t get why you’re making a big deal out of this.”

    But everyone who takes Adderall understands perfectly…in the end.

    I really don’t think those other people understand just how big of an effect Adderall has on you, internally. They see this giant change in your behavior, but they don’t make the connection that giant changes in behavior don’t happen without even more giant changes in thought….that the drug basically has to take over your entire conscious mind to affect those changes. And they certainly can’t fathom the negative consequences of doing that.

    That’s why this has to be a lonely battle sometimes. Just you, God (if you swing that way), and the few others you can find who either know what you’re talking about or can understand enough to support you and be proud of you for what you’re doing.

    On your side note: (Please note that this is mainly directed at the doctor who prescribed your cousin the Adderall, not you). So basically, Adderall works for your cousin because he doesn’t take it (practically). An Adderall dose has a max 12-14 hour lifespan (and that’s really only if it’s a time-released XR). Typical dose effectiveness is 6-8 hours. So the notion that it’s helping your cousin “on the whole” is null (if that’s what the doctor is telling him). It’s not like it’s in his system the whole week, subtly helping him….it’s gone in 8 hours or so. Which means there is 6-8 hours of that kid’s life every week that he feels like he can’t get through on his own. I’m guessing “test anxiety” or something.

    Although I appreciate the “let’s just give you a little dose of this” approach (as opposed to the “let’s load this kid up and remix his brain chemistry” approach), I would argue that If he needs it that little then he doesn’t need it at all. He needs training and practice getting through that one thing every week. Or, if possible, maybe he needs to cut that thing out of his life entirely…maybe it’s the event that’s incompatible with him, not the other way around.

    Or maybe the doctor told him that the purpose of taking Adderall once a week is to give him a little lesson every week on what it’s like to “really focus better”. You know, to help “train his brain”….

    I’m just ranting now, but if you want a kid to understand what “real focus” feels like, walk in while he’s been playing a video game for 4 straight hours and say “this”.

  3. Kayden says:

    Hello again,

    Thats funny you mention video games. At the peak of my adderall addiction i use to sit their, hypnotized in front of an Lcd screen for fourty-eight hour intervals, playing HALO 3(an X-BOX 360 game title). Only stopping to take a three hour nap, smoke break(and repeat) for roughly a month. And i’m certain now i wasn’t as detailed as i should’ve been in regards to my cousins usage or didn’t express key points LOL(though good points were raised in your defense). What i was trying to insinuate was infact that based on the improved behavior he displayes and the pleasant dialogue we’ve exchanged during the post-Adderall consumption portion of his day (or even when he’s sober)has convinced me that Adderall was a positive catalyst in him realizing that the overwhelming amount of motivation and ability he secummed to when ingesting Adderall was one part Adderall and three parts him. Which in turn allowed him to make those those great things a habit and apply them to most day-to-day life scenarios. Oh one more thing, if infact my hopes of soon joining the militar don’t end up happening what do you reccomend doing as far as a job, which i need either way but cannot seem to find someone willing to hire me.

    Thanks again,
    Kayden.

  4. Mike says:

    Hi Kayden,

    On the video games: Yeah, anything that is naturally addicting will absolutely consume days of your life on Adderall. That’s why (when I was on Adderall) I refused to touch WOW even though many of my friends/coworkers would play it. Glad I dodged that bullet. Lord knows how many hours that would have pulled away from my meaningless work.

    On your cousin: I hope you can understand my hostility. Adderall is the most rationalizeable drug on the planet. It’s difficult for me to condone it in virtually any circumstance, because condoning any Adderall use is a horribly slippery slope. And part of me thinks giving an unfocused person Adderall to show them how to focus is like giving a depressed person Extacy to show them how to be happy. But good for your cousin if he benefited from the glimpse then was able to walk away from it forever without ever wanting more…

    On job suggestion: Something stimulating and physical. Something with people. And/or something that involves something you idolized as a child. We’re just talking day job here. You still need to find your greater passion/purpose. That’ll occur to you naturally though, and may eventually become something that pays.

    What are people’s objections to hiring you?

  5. Veronica says:

    Hi Mike,

    I sent in a posting last night right after I flushed my pills. I am wondering if you have any advice on getting them back…KIDDING!!!

    I just want to tell you that all day today as I went without the Adderal I reflected back to some of the little “nuggets” you mentioned in your postings; the idea about the water forming at the front of your brain but it is really all in your brain really made sense to me. The breadcrumbs as well, that really made sense to me. I really cannot tell you what a relief it has been to know there are other people out there like me. I have felt really alone until now. I also think God was knocking at my door for the past year or so, but I wasn’t willing to answer cause I was too busy being “productive.”

    Well it is ironic, because I have spent months searching the web for some kind of advice for someone in my situation; I think I was having such a difficult time because I felt like no one understood. I even debated going to like an NA meeting or something but I also knew I wasn’t like those people.

    So, I’m writing to ask you to let me chronicle my story a bit. I think it will be therapeutic for me and very helpful for other people out there like myself…and I know they are out there, especially those in law school.

    I won’t chronicle every little thing, but I’d like to check in every once in a while.

    Anyhow, thanks again.

    Veronica

  6. Kayden says:

    “What are people’s objections to hiring you?”

    Well i’m not sure, i’m pleasant, professional, outgoing and take every shift i can(when i’m working). But when it comes down to getting the call back it never happens.

    I’m hurting for a job because i’m trying to get enough money to attend community college in hopes of recieving my c+/c++ and eventualy major in computer science, got any job openings(only joking).

    Lastly, that article entitled “NEWS: “Brain Gain” by the New Yorker investigates off-label Adderall usage” was excellent i couldn’t stop reading it but like you said “people have doing it foryears its really not news”. And thanks for making time to reply to mine(and others) comments i say that especially about me considering the vast ammount of them i produce, its very helpful.

    Kayden.

  7. Mike says:

    @ Veronica

    I really agree with a lot of the things you said in your first comment about Adderall takers being a smart, creative bunch naturally. That’s exactly what I’ve noticed running this site. All of you make me feel like I’m in good company.

    The breadcrumbs as well, that really made sense to me.

    Yes, now that I’m probably several months from when I wrote that, I can confidently reiterate: Follow the breadcrumbs. It will lead you to things you could never predict and help you overcome stresses you never thought would never relent.

    I also think God was knocking at my door for the past year or so, but I wasn’t willing to answer cause I was too busy being “productive”

    I’m eventually going to make a “favorite reader comments” post. This is going on that list.

    And you’re right, NA is for a different breed. That’s for people who take drugs because they need to escape and evade reality. Most people who take Adderall want to grab reality by the reins and steer like hell…they are attracted to the drug because they want to be better, not because they want to be somewhere else. This makes an Adderall taker completely different from a typical drug user. So treatment has to be different in a lot of ways.

    let me chronicle my story a bit. I think it will be therapeutic for me and very helpful for other people out there like myself…and I know they are out there, especially those in law school.

    Chronicle as much as you’d like! Everything you post will only help others feel less and less alone.

    Congrats on your decision to quit. Looking forward to hearing more from you!

  8. Mike says:

    @ Kayden,

    If you ever get the chance, call the guy who didn’t hire you and ask him for tips on getting hired in the future. It’ll give him an open door to be honest about what factors might have gone into him not picking you while staying constructive. Also consider asking somebody who rejects you if would tel you why you weren’t hired if he didn’t have to sugar-coat it. If we’re talking restaurant work (which I’m assuming based on you being young and talking about shifts), try applying to work where somebody you know works. If you don’t get the call have your friend give you the non-sugar-coated “real” reason you didn’t get hired. If it’s a lack of prior experience thing then find the place where people you know started out…that way you know the place hires newbies. Just suggestions.

    I’m hurting for a job because i’m trying to get enough money to attend community college.

    What about student loans?

    And thanks for making time to reply to mine(and others) comments i say that especially about me considering the vast ammount of them i produce, its very helpful.

    It is very much my pleasure.

    Hang in there, Kayden. You’ll make it just fine.

  9. Kayden says:

    S.O.S

    I’ve been off Adderall for a week and a half now, and i keep having seizures ever since i cut cold turkey. Do the two relate to each other?

  10. Mike says:

    @Kayden

    Call a doctor if you’re having seizures. I am not remotely qualified to give you tips on that one, except to say I don’t think anybody else I’ve spoken to or heard of has mentioned seizures as a symptom of quitting Adderall…at least not that I remember.

    Good luck. Let us know what your doctor says.

  11. Vinny says:

    I think that is this is a testament to the progress you have made that you were all able to recognize this and do something about it. I have never taken adderall except recreationally, if that definition is even allowed, and must say that it ddoes CHANGE you. I have witnessed first hand, from the years before and the year after.
    As a child and as an adult one must realize that change can be good. And you all are changing in the right direction. Keep up the good work.
    And I will call you when I conquer my food problem and we can all celebrate.

  12. Mike says:

    Vinny!

    Actually, you played your own part in my quitting Adderall. You were back in town, we were at Chilli’s, somehow the topic of Adderall came up, and you said “Yeah…I tried Adderall a couple times…I didn’t like it…it was too good…it felt like cheating.”

    That always stuck with me, the notion of Adderall as cheating…having it vocalized like that was particularly damning. It prevented me from being able to evade the thought as easily in the future. It was a peck away at the wall of rationalizations I had built around my Adderall use. That was helpful.

    I’m totally down for celebrating when you beat the food!

  13. Lori says:

    Thank you for creating this site. I identify with everyone here. It’s amazing. That feeling that you need it to be your best is a very seductive draw. I quit for three months then started back on it again because I wanted that feeling of being “hooked into things” and feeling overly passionate about everything. It is so true that us Adderall takers tend to be very intelligent to begin with and usually creative types. But one thing I know is that over time it will rob you of your true self. I lost a lot of weight on it–almost to the point where I was anorexic. The funny thing is, every time someone told me how “good I looked” I would almost cringe because I knew how i had done it. I could not enjoy it like I would if I had worked for it. I’m a writer and for awhile I was convinced I wrote better on it. When I got clean, I could not even read what I wrote while I was on it because I had this nagging feeling that it was just not me. It is a total illusion that you can do things better on it. Like others have said, what you are really missing is that euphoria and super confidence. I know about the hyperfocus thing. I would sit at my computer for hours on end researching, reading, writing, whatever. I could barely peel myself away from it to get a drink of water. It was weird reading all these comments because it was like I was reading about myself. Anyway, I am now off it a week, and I’m glad I did not continue taking it. The guilt was really hitting me hardcore. I went back to the psychiatrist I swore off for three months and scored it again. I hated myself the whole time. Nobody needs that. We deserve to be happy with who we are. Thanks again.

  14. Mike says:

    Hi Lori!

    I totally agree: Writing on Adderall is like thinking on Adderall: impulsive and full of tangents.

    I think of all crafts/abilities, Adderall corrupts writing the most. If (to use an example from my own experience) you’re programming a software feature and you go on an Adderall tangent and spend 2 hours designing a header graphic, you still get to use your extra-perfect header graphic when you eventually finish the programming. If you go on a two hour tangent in the middle of writing, you will destroy the structure of the piece.

    I think being a writer will give you an advantage over other people who are trying to quit: When you quit Adderall, you will instantly see your writing improve…and that can offer encouragement that you can’t get as quickly with other passions (which may take more time to rebuild).

    You sound like you had plenty of Adderall Guilt. That’s when you know you’re ready to quit: when you feel your rationalizations starting to deteriorate.

    And yeah it’s a TOTALLY seductive draw, as you said. Adderall users are unique from other drug users in that it is the BEST within them that draws them to the drug, rather than the worst.

    Anyhow. Enjoyed your comment. Congrats on the time you’ve spent off it so far. When you start a blog or write something great after quitting let me know and I’ll link you!

  15. Ann says:

    Hi Mike,

    I am so grateful to find your site. I have been taking adderall 30mg XR for 3 years and over time, the feelings of guilt and shame intensified to the point where I now feel so low. I read so many insightful stories and articles on here that give me relief to know that my feelings are “normal”.

    When I first took adderall, it gave me this newfound confidence and social desire that I genuinely felt like I was truly happy. My focus and motivation did a 180 and I loved that euphoric feeling every morning. Also, another huge benefit (at the time) for taking adderall was that it helped me not binge on food. I was bulimic for some time and when I took adderall, those obsessive thoughts and cravings for food went away. I thought that was my ticket to breaking away from the eating disorder! Wrong…Even though I do not struggle with the actions of bulimia, my thoughts and feelings have definitely worsened from taking adderall. I started to feel more and more alone. I was embarassed that I took adderall and it became my hidden treasure.

    Prior to finding this site, I honestly thought I would have to just live on this drug. However, that all changed today when I read all the stories and advice. I flushed the remaining pills today. I know this will be incredibly difficult and challenging, but I have to stop taking adderall. It is not healthy for me and it actually led me to be less productive and motivated with important matters let alone emotionally depressed.

    Tomorrow starts a whole new chapter and as horrible as I am going to feel, I have to keep things in perspective and remind myself that this is all going to better myself long term. Thank you so much Mike and everyone else. Your words and stories inspire me!

  16. Mike says:

    Hi Ann,

    Congrats on flushing the pills. Welcome to day one. Concentrate on making it at least two weeks first (so your natural happy juice supply can replenish).

    Sounds like you had a hell of a honeymoon period. Fair warning: you’re going to baloon up a little when you quit, so prepare yourself for that. I had a pretty small friend put on a instant 15 pounds when she quit, then lose it a few months later.

    Just don’t freak out and go bulemic is all I’m saying. :-p

    If you’re a naturally OCD person (which I think your bout with beulima confirms), it will be important for you to work on either breaking your compulsioniveness through sheat force of will and errosion, or channeling your compulsive thinking into something healthy (like exercise).

    Action breaks the cycle of worry.

    Thanks for your comment. Good luck. Come back and post if you run into trouble!

  17. Leslie says:

    Mike,

    I have been dating my boyfriend for about 8 months now. Throughout our relationship he has been on and off adderall. He is on the highest dose daily you can legally be perscribed. I can’t even begin to explain the pain and negative effects it has had on me and our relationship. He has been on adderall for about 10 years (Since high school I believe). When he runs out of his perscription and doesn’t take any for a week, OMG he is the sweetest, loving, caring, funny most wonderful boyfriend. But once he gets his perscription and he is back on them he turns into an unemotional, ignorant, careless, MEAN person. Especially towards me. He doesn’t sleep, eat, laugh, give me any type of attention. It has gotten really bad. So he says that he just needs to get a job and as soon as he does that he will stop! I can’t tell you how many times he has told me he doesn’t need, want or like them and he doesn’t want to be the person he turns into on them. But does he ever really quit…nope. It’s like im in a relationship with two different people, it drains everything out of me. I just don’t believe him when he tells me now that he will quit once he gets a job, that he needs the adderall to get a job. He says he’s not responsible without them and lacks motivation and is lazy and has ADHD. But the person he is when he’s not on adderall is great! Do you think he can really quit these for good?

  18. Mike says:

    Hi Leslie,

    The Dr. Jeckle/Mr. Hyde phenomenon you’re describing when he’s on/off the pills is totally normal for an Adderall taker. The thing to remember is that sweet, loving, caring, funny, most wonderful boyfriend —- that’s him. The other guy is the pill talking.

    About the “just need it to get a job” rationalization he gives — The key words in that sentence are “need it”. In his mind he needs it to be his best. That association is not going to stop when he gets a job…because then the pressure is really on to keep performing.

    That said, at least “when I get a job” is a finite end point that you can try to hold him to when he gets one…but still, getting a new job is probably the worst time to quit Adderall…unless it’s a really easy/fun job.

    The fact that he has acknowledged that he doesn’t need it/doesn’t like it/doesn’t like who he is on it is encouraging. That’s where quitting starts…with that little nagging voice that he now has. But he’s stuck in between two very demanding worlds: his need to be loving for you, and his need as a man to perform for the world. He can’t please one without failing the other…and the idea of failing either one is incredibly painful, so he keeps bouncing back and forth.

    I do think it’s possible for him to quit these for good, especially with your encouragement and support.

    But I have to wonder though if he’s really applying for jobs or just he’s pissing away the time in video games or something. You haven’t seen slacking off until you’ve seen somebody on Adderall slack off…because they super-focus on slacking and keep telling themselves that worse case they can just pop another pill and do all their work overnight. Maybe go over and hang out one day while he’s supposed to be looking for jobs and observe his behavior.

    Help him accelerate his job search, and then when he gets a job remind him of his commitment to quit.

    In the mean time, see if he’ll agree to go half dose for a week, no overnighters, and no taking it on the weekend. See what happens. It may even help if he just cuts off his dosing in the afternoon so by night time he’s more normal for you.

  19. Nicole says:

    Hello Mike (and everyone),

    Thank you so much for creating this site, and for all of the powerful feedback. Reading through each of your testimonies has really helped me put my Adderall use into perspective.

    My whole life I have been told that I am very high-energy, ADHD-type, though I had never been diagnosed by a doctor. These comments regarding my personality were generally spoken endearingly, and, like many of you have commented, reflected a uniquely creative being whom did not fit into the social mold expected.

    It was a struggle to accomplish things on time in classes, even through my college career – but I learned ways to adapt, which generally involved extreme procrastination and other ways of manipulating the academic system. I survived – even taking the more difficult courses – but it definitely didn’t come easy, because it was difficult for me to pay attention and even more difficult to be sincerely interested, if I was not. After so much struggling, during my senior year of college I went to the health center/department of psychiatry, and underwent a series of interviews, IQ examinations, self-reporting surveys, and the like. I had tried this magical drug called Adderall in the past, and thought that this was something I needed. After the testing, I was diagnosed with ADHD, and through this diagnosis was recommended to begin a combined cognitive behavioral therapy and medicinal regimen. Thus, in January 2009, I began taking Adderall, slowly at first, trying not to become an “everyday-er,” (though I was supposed to take it each day) but as soon as I realized how much more powerful, energetic, passionate, and un-fatigued the drug made me, I became taking the pill more and more frequently. I started out at 10 mg XR, moving slowly to 30 mg XR, and so the daily trend began.

    I know that I was not myself – but it was so addicting, to feel this powerful, to feel less emotional, less obsessive, more focused. Daily tasks became less painstaking to accomplish, and I could go to school all day AND work my waitressing job all night – no problem! Close friends noted that my building sleep deprivation and intensity while on Adderall made me a little neurotic and a little unhealthy-seeming, but I felt like a super human. I felt more cool, calm, and collected, though this might not have always been reflected as the days went on.

    When I would run out of my prescription, I would be so fatigued – completely useless, and lie in bed all day, in a total physical and emotional slump. That’s when I realized that this drug had taken over my life.

    I know that I only took the medication for 5 months, but it forever impacted my life, in a very negative way. Knowing what you can accomplish, how you can feel on this drug – it’s hard to go back to a life where you feel that you’re accomplishing less and are less motivated.

    Come June 2009, I ran out of my prescription, and likewise my student health insurance came to a halt. Thus, jobless and penniless, I was financially coerced out of taking the drug – which at the time, was the best thing that could have happened to me. However, the couple-month adjustment period post-adderall was rough -that first month, I was entirely unmotivated, sleeping constantly, and slipping into a more conscious depression (which Adderall had helped to mask). I soon moved out of my college town into a bigger city, and the transition to the real world from school paired with changing locations AND stopping Adderall really took a toll on my emotional health. My depression heightened and I felt uninvolved, apathetic, directionless.

    This depression, though very situational due to all of these major life changes, persisted for many months, and brings me to where I find myself now. Although I had put it off for so long and promised myself to not get back on Adderall, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist in May 2010, and was re-prescribed the drug. She informed me, after going through my medical records, that I was indeed ADHD and did indeed require the drug – daily. So again, I restarted the old regimen, and again, started feeling more productive, and less overly involved in my thoughts (thinking is truly the bane of my existence), and my emotions felt more controlled, and therefore again, I felt more in control over myself. Unfortunately, this short period of feeling high has come to a halt, as I’ve realized what I have gotten myself into, once again. My boyfriend, whom I tried hiding this from for the first couple of weeks, is devastated upon discovering that I started Adderall again, and believes that I do not need it. He is a medical student, and explained to me the ways in which Adderall inflates dopamine and that any withdrawal from the drug would again prove to be difficult and depression-ridden, as levels would be all off post-drug. I agree with him – I do not want to go down this path again – but in the same light, I definitely am more abstract-minded, all over the place, and lead a less structured life than he, and compared to many other people in my life. I feel the drug has helped me to escape the seemingly endless depression of the past year, and helped me escape my firing attack of endless thoughts, by also helping me become a better more societally “fit” (aka productive) person.

    At the same time, I felt myself heading down the same path, and what is the long-term plan? None was discussed with me. My doctor merely said that I do have ADHD, and thus this drug will be beneficial to me. What is the long-term plan, though?? And why was this not discussed? I agree that I feel I am “cheating” my way through some of life now, but I also feel that I am societally disdvantaged regarding my natural self, how I am naturally programmed – I do not fit into this fast-paced, success-oriented mold, and Adderall has caused me to believe that only with it can I fit into the mold that my world dictates.

    This past weekend, after some reflection and considering the feelings of my close friends, whom I do not want to push away as a result of a drug, I began to ween myself off, again. Saturday and Sunday I was once again completely useless – sleeping, fatigued, unhappy, doing nothing. Today, I made it through the morning by staying strong, and patting myself on the back for not defaulting to that tempting pill, but this afternoon, the fatigue came back, the uselessness came back, and the temporary solution seemed simple, and so I took a pill.

    I realize that ending anything cold turkey is difficult – but I really could use some support in stopping altogether, forever, and also, I would love advice from anyone regarding how to combat a lack of motivation, focus, self-worth, and the like. Post-Adderall, how do you all motivate yourselves to achieve your dreams, to pursue your passions, to channel your energy healthfully throughout the entire day? How did you successfully convince yourselves that you were better off – and happier – without the drug? I get so tired by the time 9pm comes around, after working, that I feel like I cannot do anything else but work, eat, sleep, repeat, and it is monotonous and wearing, but it seems as though many others in my life are able to do it all. I really need help – I need advice, methods, regimens, anything. I would do anything to feel whole again and to dissociate myself from Adderall. I likewise want to flush my remaining pills down the toilet – and I recognize that I do not want to be on this drug forever. It’s only been 5 weeks this time around – but enough time to again begin rewiring my brain and my mind, setting me up for a lifetime of dependency. I do not want that.

    I appreciate any advice and any words of support.

    Thank you so much again for this site, this thread, and your inspiration, all.

  20. Mike says:

    @Nicole,

    Thanks for sharing your story. My feeling is that Adderall, if you’re going to take it, is either lifelong or nothing. The idea that you only have to take it for a little while is ridiculous to me. As you said, once you get that feeling of wild motivation and productivity…it’s hard get along without it…knowing that it exists. If you need to take it lifelong to be happy, then go for it. If you want to go without it, then you need to be ready for the consequences: a life where you regularly have to break the mold more than a little.

    As for motivating yourself and dealing with the withdrawal, a couple pointers…
    1. Give your brain 2weeks-1month to fully rebound, chemically
    2. You can avoid the evening fatigue by exercising at night
    3. You get enough motivation to pursue your passions by pursuing your passions (the willful act of pursuit towards a noble goal generates the motivation).

    If you think about a person who only has a limited time to live…they can’t afford to waste time. Without Adderall, it’s like that but with attention span: you will be repulsed by any effort that is not totally 100% worth it in context of your passions and long-term goals. It’s not the big, important things that you can’t do without Adderall; it’s the little daily bullshit things that you can’t bring yourself to do.

    Fill as much of your day as possible with things that you are wildly passionate about.

  21. Mike says:

    Hi Mike I am experiancing for the first time the crazy contradictory impulses that Adderol produces. I have never taken any kind of stimmulant before and at 6 O Clock last night I took one Adderall to help me focus on an extrodinarilly long and tedious Western Civ assignment. I became wildly coherrant and the information poured so elloquenly out of my brain like a siv. I felt the exact feelings described in all of the above postings. It was an incredibly empowering and unique experiance, it was very short lived though. I became conflicted with in my own body which was extremly unsetteling and frustrating, I became twichey and self confident of my behavior, I wanted nothing to do with my room mate (who gave me the pill) and my body’s sympathetic nervous system was in panic mode, while my mind was lucid and sharp annylysing every bizzar occurance with in my body. I took another one and another one, throwing myself further into this crazy uncontrolled head space, that I hated, yet I craved more. I understand the chemical reaction of these pills and how they depleat all your “happy juices” in on esublime burst then leave you empty and panicing for the quick re boost. I have heard people say that they wish that the coke was just gone,and that they hated the feeling it produced yet they still did it. I understand that frustrating and counter productive impulse. It is the perfect picture of inner conflict on all levels. Just awefull, the chemicly induced emotions and physical manifestations that this experiance has put me through has shown me what it’s like to chase that first high and knowingly never getting it. I regrettfully say that I am still taking Adderoll bits at a time to keep from crashing all day and throwing my schedule off completly, ontop of feeling embarrased that I am still flying, and wanting to try to maintain a normal appearance when my room mate comes home from work. I am feeling so dissapointed in myself for giving into this phenominon, while knowing exactly what is going on. I dont know how coming down will be and when I set the cut off mark I get anxious and push it ahead a half hour or an hour or two when I near my stop time. Once I break this cycle I am never doing anything like this again, I am a annylitical person on my own and this is maddening to me. I am so tired and hungry, but at the same time the thought of food is neausiating to me and the thought of transitioning myself to the shower to help relaxx my muscles is parylizing to me at the moment. I was researching the drug to try to get some perspective on what it is exactly that I am experiancing and the posts are dead on. I felt the need to reach out and let you know that I appreciate your site. It helped ground me in reality and keep me focused on the terrible effects that this drug has on peoples lives. I had no idea that this drug was such a beast. I will be frequenting this site just to keep the reality of this fresh in my head incase I subconciously glorify the memory. You are doing a very important thing here, and I am happy to have found you all.
    Best of luck to every one who is struggling with is substance, I understand the helpless feeling and the dissapointment everytime you break your own promise to stop.
    I will save this page and post again in a few days when I am normal again!
    I am sorry for the spelling mistakes thatI am sure are littering this post. My mind is moving faster than my fingers.

  22. Julia says:

    Ok… so you are right about some things, but also wrong. First of all, there is no Meth in Adderall. None whatsoever. Adderall is four Amphetamine salts, none of which are Meth. Meth is much much stronger than any amphetamine. (You probably should know a little more about what you’re talking about if you’re going to rant on something eh? Not knowing the contents of the drug definitely discredits your opinion. Not to sound harsh but a simple google search could have given you the correct answer!)

    I have been taking Adderall everyday for about a year. I am not prescribed by any doctor, I prescribed myself after doing some research. Just to touch on my drug history, I’ve used my fair share of illegal drugs, but never had an addiction. It was always a recreational once in a while thing for me. And before you say “yeah right everyone says that” I have always held a job, always paid my bills, always been on my own. I live a very responsible life and take good care of myself, and drug use (including alcohol) has never been a part of any daily routine.

    Anyway, I came across Adderall when my job was threatened by my lack of focus. I have always had this issue, always struggled in school, I am just a space cadet and my mind jumps all over the place. I started reading about ADHD and started taking Adderall daily. I am very knowledgeable about drugs, more so than any average doctor. I find altered states of consciousness a very interesting subject and have read copious amounts of information on a large variety of drugs, including ones I’d never touch (like herion, meth etc.) and addiction.

    Everyday for about a year, I have taken way way WAY less than any friend’s prescribed dose, I’m talking 5 or so mgs. I eat, exercise, drink lots of water… basically I am very healthy when I’m on Adderall. Since I’ve been taking it, I’ve become very organized. I have all kinds of lists and systems and routines in place that I never would’ve cared about doing without the Adderall. I no longer take the Adderall. It gave me a really awesome head start and perspective that makes me appreciate being sharp and clear headed and I decided I no longer needed it, which was my plan from day one. I did not go through any withdrawal symptoms and I definitely know that I wouldn’t be in a good of shape without the motivation I got from Adderall.

    Now, I won’t say it’s a wonder drug without side effects. There is a horrible potential for addiction and most doctors don’t know what the fuck they are talking about when it comes to drugs. That’s why they up the doses when people claim it isn’t working anymore (instead of recognizing that they are now addicted to a speed high and just want more) which were already high to begin with. My friends all take somewhere around 40 mgs. If I took that much, my heart would be beating so fast and I would feel like death. I don’t enjoy the speed high at all.

    My point here is that if you have will power, self control, and most importantly a lot of KNOWLEDGE about what you are taking, you can use Adderall to your benefit. I understand that it is very easy for people to fall into bad habits with this drug, but most of them likely know close to nothing about addiction and drugs, and that’s the sad part and the downfall with this drug. Doctors need to stop giving it away like candy, and the only thing that will fix this is a serious amount of knowledge.

  23. Mike says:

    Hi Julia,

    Thanks for your comment. This is a very old article that I wrote at the beginning of this site when I was still big on emotion and small on knowledge, and I apologize for the inaccuracies. FWIW, I’ve gone through the article and sobered it up a little bit, and also removed that comparison to meth, which at the time I think I wrote because I was remembering the bottle label wrong (the concept of the line was “the amphetamine in Adderall is addictive” and I just wrote it as “the methamphetamine in Adderall is addictive”, and didn’t really realize then what an erroneous statement that was). But yes, of course meth and adderall are chemically very different and it was not a technically accurate comparison, and I have learned that well in the 2 years since this article was written.

    All that said, I’m glad that you posted your story because it will help filter out people who can benefit from this site (and from Adderall) and those who can’t. You are a good case. You have a healthy amount of willpower and self control, and what sounds like a good head on your shoulders. You’d probably never be one of the people that have trouble with Adderall. At 5mg a day, you’re not really losing any self, you’re not getting addicted, and you’re not facing much of a comedown when you come off.

    The other people you mention…the people who are affected by that horrible potential for addiction and the people on much higher doses…those are more the people who this site is meant for. Well, them and the idealistic freaks like me who were perfectly successful on it but wanted quit anyway out of some notion of recovering lost self.

    Really, I have half a mind to take this article down, but then your comment when go down with it, and I like your comment so I think I’ll leave both up for now. If it’s any consolation, I THINK I’ve gotten a little more knowledgeable since this article was written. If you find other inaccuracies, please post them.

  24. V says:

    I just stumbled upon this article and read through the comments. I don’t like to be repetitive, but I can agree with a lot said (positive comments) and know the experiences described by addicts. I’m still coming to terms personally with the finality of calling my use an ‘addiction’. However, your article describes the beginning of usage perfectly. Its inspiring to me, someone who takes way more than she should, to retrain myself to performing tasks adderall free now that the process has more perspective. I mean really, it’s mainly the fear of becoming utterly retarded that keeps me popping these pills anyway.

  25. InRecovery says:

    Mike – Your comment is SO TRUE!

    “You haven’t seen slacking off until you’ve seen somebody on Adderall slack off…because they super-focus on slacking…”

    I’m starting to believe the whole idea that adderall improves productivity is overrated… If I just think about all those hours of “superfocused” energy on adderall I channelled into wasting time…! Man, oh, man.

  26. InRecovery says:

    I’m starting to think that people on adderall tend to put a lot more energy on very low priority activities…but they still feel like proctastinating on the important stuff. It’s not as though the adderall removes all of the DREAD from tackling daunting tasks.

  27. Mike says:

    @InRecovery – EXACTLY – When you quit Adderall, you still have that dread of tackling daunting tasks, except now ALL tasks are dreaded and daunting. In this way, quitting Adderall forces you to build back the muscle of enduring through dread.

  28. Shardae says:

    Not sure if anyone still checks this site for new comments, but I’ll give it a go.
    I won’t go too into detail about the affects since everyone here has really did a great job explaining. I do want to explain my situation to know if there might be anyone in the same boat.
    I was put on Ritalin in elementary school for ADD. Was having trouble paying attention. It continued through middle school then stopped once I reached high school. Luckily I managed to graduate. Then community college I was put on adderall. At some point I was off of it. Then I got into a relationship, which I became over-clingy. He told me I should get back on it, so I did. The relationship ended in 07 and I’ve been on it ever since. I take 10mg 4 x day. I’m currently a mother of an almost 3 year old and pregnant with my 2nd. Since being on adderall I’ve become highly addicted to cigarettes, where before not on it I never smoked. I also need my Rockstar caffeine fix every morning. I know being pregnant that these are all big no-nos. though being on the adderall I feel dependent on them. I recently list my job right before Xmas and have had to take on the stay-at-home mom roll. Which is insanely overwhelming compared to having a full-time job away from a toddler and house to clean. The loss of my job during the holidays was so stressful but I’m slowing accepting my new role at home. I feel very ashamed to be a smoker mom and being pregnant that I don’t like to be social with other moms much. Also any family functions I don’t like to stay long because I’ll need a smoke. Long car rides with my toddler are hard cuz I really want a smoke. If its really bad ill pull over to have one. My smoking started mostly while I drove, since I drove for a route for work and took many road trips. I could smoke almost a whole pack on a 3 hour road trip. Now a days a smoke break is like the only time I have to sit and relax, chasing a toddler around. Plus the adrenaline rush from chores and mother stress really makes me crave that Lil smoke break to calm down.
    I know if I could stop taking the adderall then I could much easier kick the smoking habit for good. It’s also a big financial strain. My man (same bf who told me to get on it years ago) is now in charge of paying for everything for our little family. I feel bad to make him have to pay for my bad habit, but he does to keep my sanity. I’d love to be stronger and take control over all this. I use to sing and be artistic. The motivation is slipping away.
    I’m afraid that I have too much responsibilities as a mother to stop taking adderall when considering that my withdrawals will affect them greatly too. I can’t sleep all day and have so much that needs to be done around the house everyday. Plus baby is due in 3 month!! Maybe once baby is here and I have a better routine set having two babies, then I will be at a better place to start winging myself off this crap once an for all.

  29. Gina says:

    Old article, but thought I’d comment because I’m one of the lucky people who can take Adderall occasionally and only to “train my brain,” but I have only been successful at it because I’ve actively fought my doctors to stay off of it. Adderall is poisonously addictive and doctors contribute to the addiction by treating Adderall like vitamins instead of the powerful, mind-altering drug that they are.

    To break it down a bit: when I am in full ADHD mode, I have about 1000 thoughts going through my head at one time and going all around my brain in a web of random thought associations. I pop an Adderall (usually between 10mg-15mg XR once a day for 5 days per week, though I prefer three 5mg IR taken as needed), and suddenly I only have 2 or 3 thoughts and they are all linear. I gradually cut down my Adderall usage in a month two or three and then quit altogether, and I keep myself thinking linearly through a combination of diet/exercise, willpower, and consistent scheduling/routine. When things start to get cobwebby in my head again, I start another “course of treatment” with my current primary care doc. I usually need to do this every two to three years.

    This is a routine I worked out with my original psych because Adderall kills off all of my creativity (which I badly need in my work), and I have been using this routine successfully for 15+ years. Nonetheless, I’ve had to fight every new my primary care doc I get to get them to agree to this.

    They don’t believe me when I say this is what works for me. They either want me to stay on Adderall full time (starting at a lower dose and “building my tolerance,” stating to me that my creativity will return as my body gets used to the side effects), or they try to get me to switch to a med I can take all of the time. Even when I get them to agree to let me do what has successfully worked for me for 15+ years, they sometimes still won’t prescribe me the actual meds that work best for my situation (three 5mg IR, usually citing abuse concerns though I had one doc tell me that if I only needed 5mg to get through a day then I prob didn’t really need Adderall at all), and will insist I should take 10mg XR or 15mg XR instead.

    It’s incredibly frustrating, and I can definitely see where people who are “only following their doctor,” instead of advocating for drug-free care, could get sucked into Adderall addiction.

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