SELF-SABOTAGE IN A BOTTLE: Why We All Need To Finally Get Off Adderall

Oh, you don't take Adderall? Cool, then just forward on this link to the nine friends in your email address book that do.
Publish date:
September 30, 2011
body image, adhd, adderall, addiction diaries, prescription drug abuse

I'm generally not a preachy person, but there is one thing in the world that I totally am bossy about: getting chicks off prescription speed! FACT: I couldn't care less if guys get off prescription speed, because, well ... I like to keep them, as a gender, vaguely disabled.

I speak with authority because I used to be a go-to person for stimulants -- for 13 years, I was legitimately prescribed colossal amounts of Adderall and other ADHD medications. My first prescribing doctor was my psychiatrist dad, who mailed bottles of pills from home in D.C. to me at prep school in Massachusetts. So, I mean, a problem was imminent. Let's be real.

For all 13 of those years, my female friends and coworkers hit me up for it constantly! Overworked friends in publishing who were staying late at their magazine offices every night, friends with new boyfriends they wanted to lose weight for, friends breaking up with their boyfriends who were suddenly crazy and body-dysmorphic, friends who were just drunk one night and wanted something to sober them up.

And I almost always obliged and gave up a bunch of pills. I even taught a few friends what to say to psychiatrists to score their own prescriptions. I gave my closest friends one of my doctor's names. Obviously I had multiple prescribing doctors: I manipulated them all and lied through my teeth.

To say the very least, I am not proud of this.

But back then, I was so unhealthy, strung-out and self-absorbed that it didn't phase me when some of those same friends started retarding on pills like I was. I don't touch stimulants now, but when I did I was ALL about them, particularly the weight loss side effects. I got skinnier and skinnier, thinking that my sallowness and angularity made me hugely hot and appealing.

Which it did -- to sociopaths and narcissists looking for physically and emotionally weak girls -- and they always, always found me.( Side note: What's up with that whole culture of guys who are into girls who look dead? Lame!)

But no, in truth, all it did was give me a cranky attitude and turn my skin green and deprive me of sleep and food for years and years -- until finally, combined with the insane pressures of being an editor at a fashion magazine, I just spiraled the f--- out and went to rehab in Connecticut for a month. I snapped!

This was like three years ago.

And obviously that wasn't the end of my prescription amphetamine use: Oh, hardly. It was barely the beginning. Seventeen days after my month at $1,000/day rehab (Silver Hill, natch) -- my first of, it was to turn out, several stays at such a facility -- I felt so fat that I went to one of my old man Park Avenue doctors and got right back on that shit again. And then two weeks later I went to another doctor for Dexedrine. And then to a different doctor for Vyvanse. And so on.

As the years went by, I got much, much worse. This year, 2011, is the first of my life that I've been off stimulants more days in total than I've been on them. My last prescription -- which I pill-binged on, consuming my month's supply in just over 10 days -- was in May, and it took me months of asocial, hermetic behavior and two rehab-substitute trips to my grandma Mimi's (where I participate in an intensive private counseling program of her design) to make me feel halfway human again.

My point is, prescription speed works until it stops working, and if it hasn't stopped working for you yet, believe me, it will. It deprives your body of natural cues (hunger, sleepiness), wears away at your edges until finally you're all raw nerve, with no inner resources of physical or psychological strength left to deal with your life.

And when you run out, it's a total nightmare: You gain all the weight back you lost, because you can't get out of bed, and you binge eat and crave carbohydrates, and your brain feels so fuzzy and groggy that you don't want to go outside, and everyone in your life is all, "Cat" -- or whatever your name happens to be -- "You need to get out of the house," and obviously you do need to, but dude, it's just not going to happen.

Or maybe that's just me. But I don't think so.

I understand wanting it. I always want it. I literally am longing for it right NOW, because I'm sitting at my desk writing and feeling daunted by a bunch of work projects. But you know what? It wouldn't even help me write if I did have it.

It would make me not eat, so I wouldn't be feeding my brain, and I'd get zonky and hyper-focus on one sentence and re-arrange it 40 million times and miss all my deadlines and go to bed feeling horrendous about myself, then not be able to sleep because I'd be cranked up! So I'd have to take a DIFFERENT pill -- a sleeping pill, a "benzo" (Xanax, Valium) to conk out.

It is a vicious cycle, a horrendous way to treat yourself, and it only ends in FAIL. And ladies, long after you stop taking pills, FAIL is still a big, dark place to crawl out of. Trust.

Who else has been through Adderall hell, or knows someone who has?

[Uh, and you can follow me on Twitter at @cat_marnell. Thanks!]