What Is Adderall?

I never believed that I would be so hopelessly addicted to a drug that was prescribed to me. I had always imagined prescription drugs being a helpful tool and not something that could throw your life completely off track. I was ignorant of the opiate epidemic and all the addiction that has resulted in prescription drug abuse. I am surprised they haven’t coined the term ‘Adderall epidemic’ yet, or that Adderall and depression aren’t more widely linked in the public perception of dangerous pharmaceuticals.

Adderall and the Path to Abuse

With the amount of it that is available to younger people, it’s a wonder how every young person isn’t hooked on the stuff. It’s a very dangerous drug that can be as harmful as any street drug out there. It took me a long time to figure it out. When I got to Pathfinders, I finally learned all the things I wish I knew before.

So what is Adderall? Adderall is a stimulant commonly prescribed to people with ADHD. It is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It has become extremely popular among high school and college students as a study drug.

Association Between Adderall and Depression

It felt like nearly everyone I went to college with was on some form of stimulant at one point or another. It allows you to focus and stay up on those light nights before a final. It gives you the boost that you need. It’s fairly easy to get, but there are many side effects of Adderall. Depression is one of the big ones. Depression and Adderall are very closely linked.

Does Adderall addiction truly cause depression? I know many people who have struggled with addiction and depression at the same time. A stimulant like Adderall is very likely to cause depression in someone susceptible to mental illness as well as addiction. I know firsthand that my depression became much worse once I started dabbling with Adderall.

Yet, despite the fact that it can cause severe depression, there are some individuals that use the drug to combat their depression. These individuals use the drug as prescribed by their doctor, and never have addiction histories, however. Clearly this was not the case with my Adderall addiction story.


Self-Medicating with Adderall

Why do individuals self-medicate with Adderall to help with depression? And what is the difference? How can something cause depression for some while also potentially helping with depression for others?

The simple answer is that all of our bodies react differently to what we put in them. It’s also important to know that your depression is not going to be ultimately cured by a stimulant like Adderall.

It may increase your mood in the short term, but using it long term will not do you any favors. When you’re using alternative depression treatments, you should really do your research before deciding on what to go with. You need to know the risks of everything. If you don’t do the proper research, you could end up really doing harm to your well-being.

Prescription Misuse Can Run in the Family

There is an addiction history in my family, so when I started dabbling with drugs it was destined to end badly. My addiction history and Adderall use were very going to mix eventually. There was a lot of alcoholism on my father’s side, and some drug history on my mother’s side.

No matter how much I tried to convince myself that Adderall was for my schooling, I couldn’t avoid the obvious for too long. I was displaying addict behavior very quickly after I started using Adderall. I would stay up for days on end and display signs of drug-induced psychosis.

I’ve always dealt with depression. Many addicts have some kind of depression history. Depression is the reason a lot of people turn to substance abuse. There is a big emphasis on treatment for dual diagnosis at Pathfinders.

You can’t fix one problem without fixing other underlying issues. If you go into your recovery with an emphasis on fixing your substance abuse and mental health issues, you are going to be better set up for success. Recovery from depression and Adderall is going to come from the same place.

Adderall Health Warnings and Interactions

While a drug like Adderall does a number on your body, the damage it does to your mind cannot be understated. There are a lot of mental and emotional issues that Adderall addiction will bring out. With any stimulant, you are draining your brain of dopamine and other chemicals that induce euphoria.

If you are constantly getting that dopamine drip and then run out of it, you are going to feel the effects. There is a definite relationship between anxiety and Adderall. You are likely to experience mood swings, panic attacks, and depression as a result of continued Adderall use. Adderall abuse will also likely make you suffer from cardiovascular issues, hypertension, kidney problems, sexual dysfunction, and other physical effects.

Adderall Misuse and College Students

I had one roommate who regularly stayed up for days on end because of his Adderall abuse. I’ve done it before myself, so I didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t until he became overly paranoid and violent that I realized how dangerous Adderall was. He began accusing me of all sorts of things. He was convinced I was secretly conspiring behind his back to do a number of illicit things.

He thought I was trying to get him kicked out of our apartment. He thought I was trying to steal his girlfriend. He was convinced I was actively trying to bring him down in any way I could. It was really scary to witness. When he finally crashed a few days in, I moved out and avoided contact with him for a long time.

I ran into him not too long ago and he was filled with shame for the way he behaved. Like myself, he was actively seeking treatment and trying to right his past wrongs. He had come very close to harming himself as well.

As it turns out, suicidal ideation and Adderall are also very closely linked. I forgave him because I knew his mind was not his own. It made me even more determined to speak out about the dangers of this drug. It is horrifying to imagine that there are legal drugs out there that can make people completely lose their minds. Adderall and other amphetamines like it are a great example of this.

Sharing with Others About Your Struggle

It’s very hard to get help for an addict if you do not have any personal experience with substance abuse. The only people that can really say anything of worth to you are those who have gone through it themselves. I certainly didn’t want to hear from the people in my life about getting clean because they didn’t understand the struggle I was facing. I appreciated that they cared about me and wanted me to get help, but it’s hard to get through to any addict even if you do have a drug history.

The fact is, no matter how much I avoided people trying to help me, I couldn’t outright dismiss what they were saying to me. They didn’t know it at the time, but their continued support finally got through to me eventually. It took a long time, but the words finally stuck.


Addiction and Your Genetic History

My father has been through drug addiction, and he was one of my biggest supporters. He struggled with alcoholism although he did quit drinking when I was a child. He ended up with several drunk driving arrests, and he finally made the decision to get help after a bad accident. It was a big wake-up call for him, and luckily no one was hurt.

I was very young when he quit drinking, so I don’t remember too much of his addiction. Luckily, I was at an age where it wasn’t obvious to me yet. From what I have heard, he was a very bad drinker and would often get violent. It’s hard to imagine such a nice man like my father being violent, but alcohol can bring that out of anybody.

My entire family could see what my Adderall addiction was doing to me. I had become a shell of myself and there was no hiding my struggle. I was able to cover up how bad it was for a long time, but there’s no hiding that kind of situation forever.

One day my father and I had a very deep talk where he laid it all out to me. I was going to die if I didn’t get help. He made it very clear that recovery was possible for me because he had been through it himself. He encouraged me to go to meetings and at least hear what other people had to say. I remember very clearly him telling me that it was sure to end badly for me. The worry in his voice is what stuck with me.

The Right Words Can Stick

I’ll always remember that tone in his voice. It’s one of the memories I will have forever. A father’s worry that can’t be hidden. He tried to be strong and straightforward with me, but I could tell my addiction was tearing him apart inside. I also know that he was speaking from a place of experience. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. He was very blunt about it. He didn’t tell me there was a chance of me dying from my addiction, he all but assured me it would happen if I continued using the way I was.

It was a big wake-up call to have that conversation. I’m not sure why all the conversations we had before didn’t wake me up. You never know when the time is right to hear those words. Sometimes they go in one ear and out the other. Sometimes the words stick and can make a big impact.

When I arrived at Pathfinders, I kept his words close. Anytime I felt the urge to leave or go get high, I remembered what he told me. I didn’t want to let him down. Not only that, I knew I would be letting myself down. It was very important for me to hold up my end of the bargain and try to get help. I gave it my best shot, and it worked out. I wanted to make my family proud.

Find Pride in Your Recovery at Pathfinders

Most importantly, I wanted to feel proud of myself. I take it one day at a time and I always keep in mind that I’m not too far away from where I once was. I’ve made a lot of strides in my recovery, but it can all be thrown away if I’m not careful. I work very hard to hold myself accountable and continue the process of sobriety, which is a daily process.

After being sober a while, I told my father how much that one conversation meant to me. It took me a long time to do it, but I know it meant the world to him to know that he was part of the reason I got clean. He told me that he knew all along that I could do it. I could feel how proud of me he was.

He didn’t have to say it. The rest of my family is very relieved and has continued to be a huge part of my support system. For anyone who has been through it, you know how rare achieving and maintaining sobriety can be. To continue with the process and stay on the right path is very rewarding. It’s rewarding for me and everyone around me. That’s why I continue to stay clean.


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