Home › Welcome to the ADDitude Forums › For Adults › Symptoms, Diagnosis & Beyond › Why does Hydrocodone Help my ADHD, and Adderall XR does not? › Reply To: Why does Hydrocodone Help my ADHD, and Adderall XR does not?
I was unaware as an adult that I had been diagnosed with ADHD as a child as I was so young I hadn’t started forming long term memories yet. So I grew up thinking my mental capacities were normal(ish), and before I was rediagnosed with ADHD as an adult I had to have an extensive series of 7 very invasive surgical procedures that left me in recovery for 4 to 6 months after each. Needless to say, I was prescribed strong pain medication (Percocet 10s I believe, though it has been a while).
Starting out I wouldn’t take it once I was out of the hospital. I just coped with pain well in general and didn’t think they were necessary, but I kept them around just incase the worst happens. Well I tripped in my messy room and fell right on my rear end (the surgery was spinal starting at the tailbone) and that sent intense pain shooting through my whole body. So I finally gave in and took one after getting my nurse to move me to the couch. When that did nothing after 20 minutes I took a second, and 30 minutes later the pain dulled enough to allow cognitive reasoning to regain control.
What I noticed was the same thing you claimed in your post. A strong ability to focus (in fact I called it hyper focus), a general sense of calm, and enough motivation to make use of it. This continued for months with me taking my pills regularly now (only as prescribed mind you), before I brought it up to my Dr. and explained the best I could. He then told me that I had an addiction, which I promptly tested by quitting the pain meds.
I quit cold turkey without the first sign of withdraw or cravings after a month (outside of the psychological desire to have that focus again), but at that point I was no longer in recovery and they weren’t needed. So I moved on with my life until the next time I had surgery.
He didn’t want to give me patient controlled opiates because he still thought I had been addicted. I explained that I had no other symptoms or signs of addiction, but that I didn’t care if I had pain meds or not as long as the nurse was there just incase I got hurt, which surprised him as he was expecting argument.
After that surgery I was referred to a psychological evaluation where it was rediscovered I had ADHD, and went through the process you are going through with your meds. It took 4 medications before we tried Adderall and once we dialed in the dosage, it worked great (though at too low of a dosage I felt like a zombie). The doctor I have now explained that the reason for the hyper focus is that the opiates are triggering multiple receptors in the brain causing much higher levels of dopamine, which is the neuro chemical that your brain gives you to simulate reward or when something good happens to you.
On the opiates your brain is literally telling you that you like whatever activity you are doing or the idea you have is a great one, etc. It is a false sense of well being and can be just as dangerous as the risk taking behavior when you are bored.
So in short take pain meds for pain and adhd meds for adhd, and I really hope you and your doctor figure out what type and how much of med you need soon.