I Admitted I Was Powerless over Everything
Need help? Call our 24/7 helpline. 855-933-3480

I Admitted I Was Powerless over Everything



Adderall addictionI’m not a drug addict. Well, not in the traditional, “I blew a line of cocaine and I thought it was the solution to all of my problems,” kind of way. I was, however, addicted to drugs for the majority of my life. Let me explain. When I was eight years old, I wasn’t a perfect student. It was hard for me to sit still. Looking back, I think it’s difficult for most eight-year-olds to sit still. I also had concerned, neurotic parents, so when my teachers suggested I be put on Ritalin, I was immediately sent to a psychiatrist. My parents never had anything but the best intentions, but from that point on, it felt like there was always something wrong with me and drugs were the answer. I never even realized there were other solutions.

For years, I was prescribed every kind of legal speed available. Many people I grew up with were also on ADD meds; where the majority of kids kept candy in their backpacks, we kept pills. And the king of them all, for me, was Adderall.

I loved Adderall. It was my constant companion, my partner in crime. Sometimes I would switch back to Ritalin, Concerta and every other ADD med that has been on the market ever, but I would always go back to those magical blue ones. Every doctor I went to just prescribed me whatever I wanted so I could have enough of the drug I loved with basically no effort or risk on my part.

I had no idea that this was devouring my life.

Adderall is great when you first take it. Need to cram to write a paper? Have to study for a Calculus test? Want to clean your dorm room? Hope to stay up all night at a party or club? Adderall will help you do it. Being on Adderall is a dream; it’s being off it that’s a nightmare.

The crash from Adderall is the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. When I crashed, it felt like someone’s fingers were trying to crush my skull in and that the gravitational pull of the universe was 10,000 times stronger on me than it was on other people. Sometimes I could hardly make it across the room to conk out on my bed or the couch for a nap. Still, in the very fast-paced world of Amanda-land, there wasn’t always time for a nap. So I just kept taking more and more. Even a quarter of a pill would stave off withdrawal and make me okay—or at least about to remotely function. But a whole pill was much, much better!

Adderall was incredibly helpful throughout high school and college. It gave me an edge and I had good grades. It also gave me the energy to do everything I needed to in my extraordinarily overscheduled existence. As a post-grad, I didn’t actually need it but this didn’t stop me from taking it. I was completely addicted and told doctors what they need to hear to prescribe it to me. No one ever requested that I get tested for ADD again or even suggested a less addictive alternative.

Nearly three years ago, I was on the border of psychosis. The only part of the day when I wasn’t on Adderall, I was asleep. I was seeing shadow people and having visual hallucinations. I would drive around Los Angeles, see a flicker of flight and, in a state of paranoia, panic because I thought the cops were out to get me. I started seeing a therapist and psychiatrist. I was ready to surrender and quit Adderall.

At the time, I was convinced I was a drug addict. Who wouldn’t think so? I ate pills like candy! So, I went to NA and AA, where I related to so much of what people shared, especially about the feelings of desperation and hopelessness. I also related to the shares about cravings and tales of crazy nights. But there was one huge, unavoidable difference between me and them, despite the fact that I was looking for the similarities and not the differences: Yes, I was a wreck and yes, my life was completely unmanageable but I wasn’t powerless over alcohol or recreational drugs.

While I drank and used a lot in college, in adulthood I’d become the kind of girl who could have one or two glasses of wine. I never wanted the entire bottle. When I started drinking, I could stop whenever I wanted to. I never had a blackout. I never woke up in a stranger’s bed wondering where I was. I didn’t go on crazy drug benders or disappear for days on end or land in jail or steal from friends or family. I had complete control over recreational drugs and alcohol; I just had no control over my Adderall use. I needed Adderall like oxygen and water, but I needed alcohol and other drugs like an ice cream cone on a hot day.

I could never connect with the people in meetings because I always felt a little different from them. I just don’t relate to the concept of thinking like I an addict; I feel that I was dependent on and addicted to a drug I never wanted to take in the first place. And while I was raised to think that drugs were the solution to all of my problems, I never felt that way about anything that was not prescribed to me. The doctor had the answers to life, while the dealer just had party favors.

When I came off of Adderall, I was a crazy hot mess. It took about four months to detox. Nothing I said or did made any sense. Most of the time, I felt horrible at best. I couldn’t accomplish any menial task without coffee or tons of energy drinks. A month or so into the detox, I finally started to feel my feelings and let’s just say that none of those feelings were good.

I should probably mention that I detoxed in my apartment alone. My therapist and psychiatrist helped me but I didn’t check in anywhere and it was physically and emotionally the worst thing I have ever been. My therapist later told me that he didn’t think I was going to stay off Adderall. I’ve now been off of it for about two-and-half years.

I am grateful for what I learned in AA. The first step changed my life completely and I would not be who I am today without the program. Before I came to understand my powerlessness, I had two modes, which were surely exacerbated by the speed I was always on: pissed off or panicked. I was the girl who screamed in traffic while driving her convertible with the top down. If Trader Joe’s ran out of nectarines, I took it personally. I would stub my toe after a pedicure and become convinced that God was trying to punish me for wasting money. If my Internet went out, Time Warner obviously did it on purpose to ruin my day. The universe just hated me. I felt I was being punished for having a nice childhood and a lack of awkward teenage years. In all fairness to myself, I was physically and emotionally detoxing so my head was certainly not in the right place for a long time. But the truth is that most of drama in my life was caused by me and me alone.

I’ve come to see that I was powerless over my family’s decision to drug me, I am powerless over the traffic (Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the country) and I’m just as powerless over the hardship and loss I will experience in my life as I am over Trader Joe’s fruit inventory. I am also powerless over my Internet service provider, my childhood, my years of bad adult decision-making, my mom and dad’s ignorance about my problem, my dog needing an extra walk, and people not picking up the phone when I feel I need them. All of these things are certainly annoying, but there’s nothing I can do about any of them. I finally seem to understand that getting upset and angry doesn’t change things; all it does is force me to have to deal with all people, places and things I don’t like as well as the negative emotions I stirred up by trying to control things I obviously cannot.

Today, I acknowledge that things sometimes suck or aren’t fair or have had a huge impact on my life but I accept that there is nothing I can do but try to process and move past them. Of course I still get angry and upset sometimes. But I let myself walk through negative reactions to things, which makes those feelings of dissatisfaction dissipate sooner rather than later. And the more I acknowledge and realize my powerlessness, the shorter the periods of anger and sadness last. In other words, trying to avoid my feelings is ultimately a whole lot worse dealing with them and moving on. And it’s when I realized I was powerless over everything that I felt like I was able to take back power over myself.

Any Questions? Call Now To Speak to a Rehab Specialist
(855) 933-3480

About Author

Amanda Lauren is an actress, writer and troublemaker. She lives Los Angeles with Lulu, her very tolerant dog. She’s written for a number of outlets, including xoJane. Please follow Amanda on Twitter on @amandalauren.