Adderall and Academics
“It’s not drug addiction if a doctor gives it to me…”
At least that’s what I told myself as I walked into my psychiatrist’s office only days before my first semester in college. I had never been a great student. Sure, I was plenty capable, but the motivation to do, well, pretty much anything, just wasn’t there. I thought back to the overachievers I’d seen in high school and all that I had heard about college, concluding that Adderall and academics went hand in hand, perfectly complementing one another like milk in coffee.
So I took a seat in his office that day, completely confident in my endeavors and having convinced myself that this was as necessary a step in the enrollment process as any–visit the academic counselor, choose your classes, pick up amphetamines, buy your textbooks–in that order. Of course, I had come prepared, knowing all the nuanced diagnostic criteria for “ADD,” and completely ready to improvise when necessary.
In retrospect, having to rehearse for a doctors appointment probably should have raised some flags, but hey, he was the professional here. I described my “inability to comprehend literature” and my “hyper-distractibility” with caution, carefully gauging his responses and making sure to never appear eager as I rattled off BS symptoms. Finally, he pulled out his small blue prescription pad and jotted down a few scribbles. Tearing off the top sheet, he pushed the paper in my direction and simply prompted me to “come back in three months.” On the paper–30mg Adderall XR.
Adderall as a Legal Amphetamine
I took off to the closest pharmacy and within thirty minutes was handed a bag with a month-long supply of legal amphetamines. Before I’d even gotten out the door of the drug store, I swallowed the first pill, setting in motion a cycle that would change my life tremendously for years to come. I stood at the bus stop impatiently, waiting not for the bus that would take me down to the campus, but instead of the orange and white gelatin capsule to dissolve into my bloodstream. Before the first effect had even set in, this drug had taken over my life. Of course, any hesitation I had quickly dissipated as I felt my heart begin to race, followed by a creeping tingle up my spine and into the front of my brain. Immediately I sprung into 6th gear and stayed there for the next two years.
For a while, life was great. Every day I swallowed that pill and motivation and creativity seemed to flow into me, occupying the spaces that had once been filled with doubt and anxiety. In classes, I became a star student–social, engaging, and insightful. I wrote papers late into the night and studied for hours on end. My initial major, psychology, quickly transitioned to neurobiology and for the first time, I was proud. I looked the world in the eye and commended myself on my drive. If you had told me that I was getting high, I would have looked at you with disdain, because after all, “a doctor gave it to me.” But as is the guiding mentality of many drug addicts, if one is good, two is better; so I returned to that doctor set on getting more, but as I soon came to realize, more was never enough.
The Long-Term Effects of Adderall
As time went on the effects began to wane. I tried desperately to compensate with higher and higher doses, but the euphoria which I had grown so accustomed to ceased to exist, replaced again by the anxiety that I had carried with me for so many years and made only worse by a chronic lack of sleep and a flood of amphetamines. Although this time it was different. I had always been plagued with self-doubt and low self-esteem, but as I walked down the street, I could hear people talking about me, judging me. In class, I felt the eyes burning into the back of my head, while everyone in my periphery laughed at my expense. Months later I would come to find out that I was suffering from what is commonly referred to as amphetamine-induced psychosis, but at the time I chalked it up to a defective psyche and pressed on. Gradually, my mental state continued to deteriorate into visual hallucinations, and the prospect of leaving the house became more than I could handle. It seemed that the only thing that even mildly quelled my symptoms was alcohol, so drinking became an integral part of my life if I were to leave the house at all. Over time, the few drinks which aided me to sleep at night progressed into an all-day activity, with a couple of shots of hard-liquor being necessary if I were to make it to my 9 a.m. lecture.
Within three semesters I had become a complete recluse, too scared to leave my apartment and only visiting campus for exams. My drinking habits grew exponentially leading to frequent blackouts, whose onset was only postponed by the stimulating effects of the amphetamines that I was now taking at over five times the recommended dose. Month after month I returned to that doctor while he continued to dispense pills like candy. I sat before him disheveled, underweight and smelled of alcohol, explaining that the problem was that I could not sleep. Together we came up with a foolproof plan–Xanax. Two weeks later I laid in my bed with only one aspiration: to kill myself before the end of the school year.
Getting Help for Adderall Addiction
In a moment of desperation, I called my mother across the country, who had been so comfortably swooned into the narrative of my thriving life at college, and told her my truth. In hysterics, I told her about the Adderall, the Xanax, and the booze, unsure if I could hold on any longer. Standing in my filthy bathroom, littered with urine-soaked clothes, I dumped my pill bottles into the toilet while my mother pleaded on speakerphone. My college career which seemed so promising on that first day in Walgreens had come to a screeching halt. All I was justify with was a drinking habit that couldn’t be sustained without amphetamines and more shame than I could bear. Within months I found myself in rehab, unable to stop drinking due to the overwhelming residual effects of years of Adderall abuse. The wonder drug which I had heard so many peers rave about, which had promised so much, had finally brought me to my knees.