Adderall addiction

  1. 0
    I am new to this site, this is my first post. I have been desperately searching the web for forums with people who might be able to relate to the despair that I am feeling right now. I am in my 30s and have been an ER nurse for three years, I started in the ER fresh out of nursing school. In school, I was in a very competive nursing program, most of my classmates wanted to get jobs in critical care after graduation. I have always been a high acheiver and push myself as hard as I can to reach my goals. I suddenly found I was having a difficult time focusing in my classes. I had always been a daydreamer but it had never seemed to matter much before. I had been seeing a psychiatrist for years, I had suffered from depression and anxiety since my teens. I was already taking antidepressants but expressed to my doctor that I was having a very difficult time focusing in school. He prescribed Adderall as needed, he informed me that the med was addictive, I didnt think much of it at the time...

    It has now been four years since I took my first adderall. Since I began taking it in nursing school, I cannot even imagine being a nurse and not taking it. I have never worked a day as a nurse when I have not been on Adderall. I have tried to start my shifts without taking it and I only make it a few hours until I find myself having to pop another pill. When I don't take it, my mind is foggy and I find myself moving slowly and having difficulty calculating med dosages. I work in a busy ER and I have to be on my toes all the time, I have to think quickly and move quickly, my patient's lives depend on it. I cannot afford to have a slow and foggy mind because if I make a mistake I can kill someone.

    I started to find myself very lethargic and unmotivated on my days off from work, so I started to take the Adderall on those days, too. As with any drug, I find myself having to take more of it to get the same effect as before and even then, the effect does not last long. When it wears off I feel moody and immediately want to take more. Now I spend more time coming off of the drug than I do feeling the "good" effects of it. I am living my life from one pill to the next. My doctor continues to prescribe it because he doesnt know that I am feeling this way. I do not tell him because I am terrified he will stop prescribing it and then I would not be able to function at work.

    I love my job and I dont want to lose it. Nobody at work knows that I take Adderall. I am sickened that I let this happen to me, knowing that this med was so addictive. I feel so alone and lost right now. I worked so hard to get to where I am in my career, but maybe that is because the adderall gave me the confidence to get to where I am. My entire life I have always been introverted, a bit of a loner that would keep to myself. I was very shy as a child (and as an adult) and was never comfortable meeting new people. When I started taking Adderall I noticed that it was much easier to talk to people. Not only did this drug make me happy and focused, I was able to be more social and engage people in conversation.

    I would love to hear from anyone that can possibly relate to this and any advice you might have. Please no criticism, I am hard enough on myself about this, I dont need anyone else to be.

    Thank you for listening....
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  4. 24 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    Are you over-taking the medication more than prescribed? If you are taking it as not prescribed by your MD, then what do you do when you run out? This may not be coming across correctly, BUT, if you are taking a medication prescibed by a MD for a medical condition, then stop beating yourself up about it. (Easier said than done I know)! But if you are finding that you are taking more than you should and running out of it and then doing something you should not to get more, (or snorting it or injecting it) then you should go back to this MD to talk about weaning off of it. But ADD and ADHD are medical conditions that need to be treated, and there's so much stigma to adult ADD/ADHD that is not fair. I wish you the best in this!!
    virgo,student nurse likes this.
  6. 4
    The problem with Adderal is that it is an amphetamine (two to be precise, dextroamphetamine and amphetamine) and EASILY causes an amphetamine addiction, even when taken as directed....which is exactly what you have.

    When someone addicted to amphetamines discontinues use they are tired (may sleep for days), unable to think clearly and feel 'foggy', have a greatly increased appetite often accompanied by weight gain, and a strong craving for the drug especially since they need to take it just to function or feel normal. After the initial week or so of large amounts of sleep, severe insomnia is common. I am not going to second guess your doc regarding his decision to prescribe it for you....OK, yes i am...it was a terrible idea. Having problems concentrating? HERE take amphetamines. So what if you have a HX of depression and anxiety and are on anti-depressants....let's pretend that THAT may not be a significant cause. There, I feel better.

    At this point there is ONLY ONE way you are going to be able to come off the adderal. Take a medical leave, or other leave of absence (you DO NOT have to tell your employer or ANYONE else why) and enter a drug treatment program where you can be weaned and medicated for withdrawals appropriately. It must be said that amphetamine addiction can be difficult to treat and recover from due to the length of withdrawal symptoms. It can take months to begin to feel normal. The recovery from Adderal is no different than that from methamphetamine if that helps you research the issue.

    The important thing is that on your own you will not be able to come of the Adderal...you need treatment and aftercare, but it certainly CAN be done.
  7. 0
    No judgement or criticism from me at all. I hope just some encouragement.

    see the post below....
    Last edit by diva rn on Jul 15, '11
  8. 5
    Quote from diva rn
    No judgement or criticism from me at all. I hope just some encouragement.

    I pray you take foranemans post to heart and get the help you need. I have been where you are and I never thought I could be free of the opiates and benzodiazapines I had been chained to for years...ever. But by the Grace of God I have been clean and sober for almost 3 years. That still boggles my mind to this very minute. It wasn't easy but I did it and it is the single greatest accomplishment of my life.

    The sooner you stop trying to fight and "throw in the towel", the sooner you will be through the "other side" and ready to start living again.

    It is SO glorious to wake up everyday and not be on drugs anymore....my days may not all be great...and work most of the time is a train wreck but I am clean and sober and it feels great! So in the scheme of things..nothing else matters.

    I wish that feeling for you...please see about getting treatment.
    d
    Perhaps you could contact your EAP program at work for help and could you take FMLA leave for treatment.
  9. 1
    wonder girl: i totally agree with the posts above. you need help- the good thing is that you recognize that you have a problem. do what you need to do to get the help you need. as Diva said- waking up clean & sober (once you get there) is truly a glorious feeling! best of luck! please keep us posted!
    virgo,student nurse likes this.
  10. 1
    I'm a little confused by the post...if you are legally prescribed the Adderall by a doctor and it helps you - why do you want off of it? Some people need to take medications - for a variety of reasons - for years or life. If it's reached the point you/your doctor want to test the waters without if then there should be a plan in place to come off it - just as there is with antidepressants and most other long term drugs. There would be no reason to tell your coworkers however, if its all above board there is no reason to lie or hide it either.
    If you are taking this illegally, then that is a whole different ball game..you are smart enough to know its criminal and you could lose your license. I suggest, like others have, to see your current doctor. If he doesn't know about the Adderall, level w/him - if he does - have him help you formulate a plan to come off it - good luck and don't be ashamed -
    jadelpn likes this.
  11. 7
    Quote from Lucky724
    I'm a little confused by the post...if you are legally prescribed the Adderall by a doctor and it helps you - why do you want off of it? Some people need to take medications - for a variety of reasons - for years or life. If it's reached the point you/your doctor want to test the waters without if then there should be a plan in place to come off it - just as there is with antidepressants and most other long term drugs. There would be no reason to tell your coworkers however, if its all above board there is no reason to lie or hide it either.
    If you are taking this illegally, then that is a whole different ball game..you are smart enough to know its criminal and you could lose your license. I suggest, like others have, to see your current doctor. If he doesn't know about the Adderall, level w/him - if he does - have him help you formulate a plan to come off it - good luck and don't be ashamed -

    Just because you are prescribed medication by a doctor does not mean you can not become chemically dependent or physically addicted to it.

    I was prescribed opiates and benzodiazapines very legally by my doctor and became very physically addicted. This is not something you start out hoping to do. However, as your tolerance increases, your dosage increases and your usage...to achieve the desired effect...until you are using the drug to get through the day and not for what it was originally intended. Then you begin to use the drug because you NEED to use the drug...

    The length of time for this to happen, of course varies, but can take years, months or even just weeks. It begins to then take over your life.
    You worry all of the time..."will I run out before my script is refillable?"..."if I do, will I go into withdrawal?"...so you also begin to play the game with your doctor..by telling him your pain is increasing (or your focus is still not working)..in hopes he will increase the doses..when that no longer works you start doctor shopping, that's ok as long as the multiple pharmacies you are using for those scripts are not plugged into a data base.

    Finally, and this may not happen to all nurses, but it does happen to many, one night or day shift, you look at a waste of morphine or demerol or dilaudid and think "why not?"..."it's only a waste"....

    and then ...welcome to the IPN

    this may happen only 1 time (like to ME)
    or it could go on for years

    Three years ago, I never ever believed I would ever be able to function in the real world without the drugs ...now I do not think I was even IN the real world back then.

    As I said before, It is so wonderful to be clean, clear headed and sober and I am SO grateful for this gift!

    To the OP, If you feel the Adderall is causing a problem...then it IS a problem. Please get help now.

    Do not let the other posters try to convince you that because you have a script it's ok...you are addicted..you are not using it as it was prescribed...you will NOT be able to do this on your own. There is NO "plan to come off it" unless that plan includes a safe detox program. Talk to your Dr, but seek help with an Addictions specialist.
    The sooner you do it, the sooner you will be "on the other side"...trust me, I know.

    God Bless you and guide you in this decision.
    Last edit by diva rn on Jul 16, '11
  12. 4
    I'm sure I'm going to get slammed but...Obviously some medications are addictive script or not...that was not my point diva rn. What I am saying is if she is taking the Adderall and it is NOT prescribed to her then there could be legal ramifications. If she IS prescribed the medication then she is at least legal. If she is abusing Adderall - prescribed or not - then that is another issue. The Nursing Board can NOT remove someones license just because of a prescription if its written to the nurse - regardless if the medication has addictive properties..if so, many nurses who are diabetic, depressed, bipolar, insomniacs, etc. would not be allowed to work - which would be stupid. The board CAN suspend/remove licenses IF the nurse is abusing a medication - prescribed or not.

    My other point is, regardless of what anyone here may think, taking medications for depression/anxiety/ADD is NOTHING to be ashamed of - it it no different than someone needing insulin. Anyone who has suffered TRUE depression - not "the blues" or a few days of crying - knows that is becomes almost, if not impossible, to simply pull out of it on your own - usually it takes therapy, medication or a combination. And trying to tell someone to has ADD to "focus" or "get a grip" is like spitting in the wind.

    Not everyone who is prescribed medication that can be addicting will become obsessed with running out or move to something like taking meds from their place of employment. It's unfortunate that diva rn ended up in that situation but many, many nurses do not.

    I also disagree that nurses who take medications - including Adderall - are not "clear headed" - medications like Adderall, antidepressants and such can balance the chemicals that are off and allow someone to function normally - "clear headed" whereas without the medications they may not be thinking clearly (such as suicidal, or making other poor decisions). While I can appreciate those on here who have struggled with addiction issues there is a difference in being an addict or recovering addict and someone who realizes they are stepping over a line they do not wish to cross and someone else who functions daily on medications that make life normal.
  13. 2
    QUOTE I also disagree that nurses who take medications - including Adderall - are not "clear headed" - medications like Adderall, antidepressants and such can balance the chemicals that are off and allow someone to function normally - "clear headed" whereas without the medications they may not be thinking clearly (such as suicidal, or making other poor decisions). While I can appreciate those on here who have struggled with addiction issues there is a difference in being an addict or recovering addict and someone who realizes they are stepping over a line they do not wish to cross and someone else who functions daily on medications that make life normal.[/quote]





    I think if you go back and read the OP post again you will find that she is worried about how her use has increased and what has been happening when she does not take it. That is not how her med was prescribed.
    That is not the post of someone who is using it as directed. That was an inquiry for help.

    Now, lest you misunderstood me, I absolutely believe that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain as is bipolar disorder and other psych issues and should be treated accordingly and sometimes for many years. This does not seem to be the tone of her post at all.

    And unfortunately, many many nurses, physicians and other health care workers DO end up suffering from addiction, which is also a recognized disease by the way. What is sad is the number that do not get help until they either ruin their careers and families or worse.
    (by the way there are close to 2,000 nurses in the IPN currently...that's just one state and there are many more who should be) But what is great about that figure is--they are all in recovery and all have their license intact and can all work without interference from the BON!

    There is nothing for the OP to be ashamed about whether she takes the medication for a disorder or even if she has become dependent on the same medication...I am only suggesting she get some help if she feels she needs it. IF she is truely addicted or dependent on the adderall she will not be able do decrease the dose or be able to get off it herself.

    If she chooses to remain on the drug, on the other hand, she will continue to need higher doses to achieve the same effect.

    Only she can make the decision.
    Good Luck, OP
    Life_is_good_1973 and TXRN2 like this.


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