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Boundary Elasticity vs. Boundary Decay

If you stretch a rubber band so far that it snaps, it's never quite as elastic when you tie it back together. So don't let it break.

It actually feels like this, but in your head.

You’re trying to quit Adderall. You’re on your second day without a pill and the stress is getting to you. You pull out your pill bottle and look at it, contemplating. Then your willpower snaps your better senses back into control and you put the bottle away and resume your righteous pursuit of getting through the day without Adderall.

In the days that follow, that is as close as you’ll go to taking a pill: Taking out your pill bottle and looking at it, then putting it back down. In psychology, this is what’s called your Boundary Elasticity.

Now, let’s say you’re on day 4 without Adderall and the pressure is really getting to you. You can’t take it anymore. You take out your pill bottle and look at it, but this time you don’t put it back down. You unscrew the cap, take out a pill, break a piece off, put it in your mouth and hold it there for a couple seconds thinking about swallowing it (long enough for it to dissolve a little on your tongue and give you that exciting bitter taste). Then you spit it out. This is boundary decay.

It’s very hard to re-establish a boundary after it decays. The best example of this is waking up in the morning. The first morning you allow yourself to hit that snooze button “just one more time” than usual you’re screwed; it’s ridiculously hard not to allow yourself the same luxury every morning thereafter. The alarm goes off, your rational brain says “Ok, don’t hit the snooze button this time”, and then the rest of your body says “What’s one more day? I’ll start waking up early again tomorrow…SNOOZE”.

You must be aware of how far you let your boundaries stretch and constantly monitor yourself for boundary decay. Recognize when you’re about to let your boundary decay and stop yourself for that very reason: to keep your boundary intact for your own sake.

If you let a boundary decay, it will usually stay decayed for some time…or worse, decay further now that you’ve allowed the decay process to start. You may well say “fuck it, I’ve already slipped this far”.

A boundary can only be repaired and by a major act of willpower, usually in the extreme opposite direction as the decay. The sooner you summon the will to reset a boundary after it decays, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits of being a more together person.

6 Responses to “Boundary Elasticity vs. Boundary Decay”

  1. Vicki says:

    hey, i tried making a forum membership but it doesn’t let me sign in… i’ve read all your articles and searched your site from front to back… i need help. been taking adderall xr for 9 months and trying to quit for 5. i can’t do it. even the day after taking it i can’t seem to get out of bed. i’m thinking of going to rehab, not entirely sure what good it will do because obviously i can’t get any energy out of anything, not even 4 cups of coffee does it. you’re articles really inspired me, sympathetically describing the pain of this addiction. my life seems to end with the thoughts of quitting. before adderall i was extremely suicidal, hospitalized for weeks… imagining survival without anything, even energy to last 5 minutes, seems quite impossible. nobody i know has taken adderall, so they think i’m laying it on too thick with my description of side effects without adderall. the thing that sucks, is that i’m stuck in greece and there aren’t any rehab centers here. i’m not asking you to be a psychologist, i just need someone to talk to…

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Vicki,

    Before Adderall, when you were hospitalized for suicidal tendencies and such…did it work? Did you feel better afterwards? If it helped then maybe something like rehab would work for you with Adderall. And if suicide is a concern then you probably want to be in a monitored environment.

    If you have no rehab facilities in Greece, then your best bet is to set up a rehab-like environment for yourself. Rehab is just an isolated environment with a focus on assisted change. You can turn your personal life into your own custom rehab program. As long as you have enough desire to change within your self, you don’t need others to help so much. If you find that you cannot maintain that desire to change long enough to maintain your commitment to quitting…then seek the help of others…but you still don’t necessarily need a professional rehab facility. A caring friend who calls you on a tough day and says she’s proud of you for what you’re doing can go a long way to recharging your commitment.

    Beyond the emotional side, start radically preparing your life for minimal effort mode. Pretend that the power is about to go out at your house for a long time…and your backup generator only has so much juice…so you turn off all the appliances that aren’t absolutely necessary to get as much time as possible out of the backup generator. Do this with your life. Remove all obligations that are not absolutely vital. If you do not do this in advance these unnecessary things will die on their own when you quit Adderall and can no longer maintain them.

    Severely cut back your hours/responsibilities at work and just sleep every minute that you can. It’s totally normal to not be able to get out of bed for the first days/weeks after quitting Adderall: don’t worry about trying. Just sleep and sleep and sleep until you’re tired of sleeping, then get up and do what you can..then go back to sleep. As long as you stay focused on improving yourself little by little (and I mean BABY steps here), time will heal everything.

    But again, for the first phase don’t worry about doing anything besides getting through the day without a pill…even if that means sleeping all day..that still counts for something.

    Now, if you had chronic fatigue or something before Adderall then you’re going to have to find other, natural ways to fight it and that may be difficult…I don’t know much about it…but I do know that seeking other stimulants like coffee is not going to help…nothing will compare to Adderall.

    Remember though that the personal problems/difficulties you had before you started taking Adderall are still going to be there when you quit, and you’re going to have to face them as a part of quitting Adderall and rebuilding. Be ready for that.

    Really, I have a hard time giving you particular advice here beyond all this because your situation seems a little more fragile than others I’ve spoken to and that makes me nervous…I’d feel more comfortable if I knew you and your situation a bit better.

    In any case, I’m happy to be your “somebody to talk to”. You can post responses here in the comments thread, or you can email me at my gmail address (I sent you an email earlier today).

    Again, hang in there. The fact that you desperately want to quit is all that matters. Very few strong desires remain unfulfilled forever. You will find a way out of this.

  3. Jason says:

    The HELL your going through; sadly, will not go away for atleast a few days. Will power, vitamins, any food (preferably healthy) will help. As Mike said, “sleep and sleep and sleep until you’re tired of sleeping, then get up and do what you can”. It is hell, and many of us have been through it…you’re not alone. It will get better, just don’t give up!


  4. Alan says:

    I have looked and looked on the internet on the topic of elasticity of the heart, and want to know if Adderall has a negative effect in this way. Even when I find a link, it is restricted. What can you tell me?
    I suspect that my skin is dryer because of the drug. What effect will it have on my heart? I do have ADHD, but I am also an athlete and enjoy endurance sports. I am in good health, but , do not want to risk heart damage.

  5. Mike says:


    Really not sure about Adderall’s affect on heart elasticity. I’d ask a doctor (and then come back here and tell us what he said). Or post some of those restricted links you found and I’ll see if I can find a way to access them (try Google cache or bugmenot.com if it’s user/pass restricted).

    Skin dryness may have something to do with how Adderall alters bloodflow, but again you’d ask a doctor on this one.

    Personally, I could never do endurance sports on Adderall. It always felt like my heart was going to explode. I think I remember hearing that it raises blood pressure (which would make sense), so that could be contributing.

    Again, I’m sorry but you’d really have to ask a doctor on this one. And if you do, come back here and report!

  6. Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if
    you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment
    form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?

    Thanks a lot!

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