Adderall – The King of Prescription Stimulants

My life completely changed when I first started taking Adderall. For the first time in a while I had an abundance of energy and motivation. I thought I was cured.

Unfortunately, strong stimulants come with some side effects. The most obvious one is that it’s difficult to sleep. You don’t need as much sleep when you’re on drugs like Adderall – you can get 4-6 hours and wake up feeling ready to go, but after a few days of this it starts to creep up on you. Your muscles get more tense and a variety of ticks can develop which vary from person to person. Some rub their fingers together, some make facial twitches, and worst of all some grind their teeth together.

Tolerance develops very quickly with stimulants. I recall looking up a drugs experience site for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and all the reviews for Adderall were either “I just started taking it last week! It’s great! I’m cured!” or “I started taking it a year ago… it’s not working as well anymore. I’m tired and my brain is getting foggy again.”

Doctors prescribe Adderall for daily use, but in my experience, using it daily just makes all the negative effects listed above much worse. I learned this the hard way. I took it daily for many years and it helped me live somewhat of a “normal” life for a while. At the end though, I was sleep-deprived, my muscles constantly felt like they were on fire, and my fatigue/brain fog levels were getting pretty high again. I realized there was nothing to do but stop it, so I did. After a year of withdrawal (sleeping up to 15 hours a day, only getting out of bed to use the bathroom, only being capable of watching TV) I began cycling it.

Cycling helps reduce side effects and prevents tolerance. Some people take “Adderall vacations” on the weekends. I take it 2-5 times a week depending on how much I need to get done.

Adderall is fairly easy to get prescribed from a psychiatrist. It’s cheap for insurance companies, it’s their go-to stimulant drug. In fact if you try to get a perscription for a wakefulness-promoting agent like Modafinil, they’ll refuse to cover it and say “Why not just take Adderall instead?”

I’ve seen some members of the CFS community say they don’t like stimulants due to the side-effects and crash. While it’s true that there are some uncomfortable side-effects like muscle stiffness, ticks, and insomnia, it’s done more for me than I ever could have imagined.

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Dealing with Doctors

Not getting anything out of doctor visits? There are things you can do.

Anyone with a mysterious chronic illness is familiar with the disappointing routine of seeing doctors. They run their tests, can’t figure out what’s wrong, try different medications that don’t help, then don’t know what to do. There are some things you can do to get the most out of your appointments.

The visit

We’ve all had doctors that are always in a rush. They hurry you along, asking you to get to the point, and they’re out of there before you know what happened. You are paying for their time, and this is your health and your life at stake here. Warn the nurse if you have a lot to say before the doctor sees you. This way he’ll know and can deal with his other patients first, giving you all the time that you need. You need to speak up and address everything on your mind.

Doctors know far less than what you would think – it’s up to you

Doctors are used to dealing with only the most common of problems. They don’t know what to do for anyone coming in with an unconventional illness. They will run their tests, find nothing wrong, maybe try a couple of medications, but then they’ll be left scratching their heads. You can’t walk into appointments just hoping that the doctor will come up with a great idea for you – you need to have an agenda for every appointment. I understand that when you feel like crap, the last thing you want to do is research things on your own. However, once you find that first drug that makes you feel a little better, that will be just enough to help you looking for more.

Doctors often don’t understand the medications they prescribe

Doctors have a short list of medications they try people on, the drugs that are pushed on them the hardest. For example, go see a rheumatologist for your joint pain, and they will throw Neurontin and Lyrica at you. Look around your doctor’s office: You might notice that every piece of stationery has a drug name on it. The drugs you see advertised on TV are also the ones being pushed on doctors. They are not prescribing unique drugs for your unique problems, they are prescribing the most common heavily-advertised drugs that vaguely treat symptoms similar to yours. The dose of each medication is very important as well, which doctors do not always understand. 10mg might not do anything, but suddenly relief comes at 30mg. Often they will try you on the introductory dose and then move on. For many medications, the starting dose will be completely ineffective, especially for those suffering from particularly debilitating illnesses.

Educate yourself

The internet is a great resource, so take advantage of it! When looking up drug information online, don’t just look at the “WebMD” type of sites. These will tell you the “official” information provided by the drug companies themselves but don’t tell the whole story and won’t tell you what to expect. Look up sites where users discuss their personal experiences. There may be effects, side-effects, concerns, and warnings that you won’t see on WebMD. I used to think drug experience sites like drugs.com and erowid.com were just full of junkies trying to get high… no, often these people are sick and desperately trying to feel better – just like you and me.

 

You need to take an active role in your health care. Putting the effort in can be the hardest thing to do when you aren’t feeling well, but it’s something you need to do.