Reply To: I Need Some Advice about My ADHD

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Spaceboy 99

Hey there,

Well done for reaching out!

One of the first things I can tell you is that people with undiagnosed and unmedicated ADHD are actually MORE likely to tend towards self-medication and substance abuse, not less. You can tell your parents that. It’s proven. ADHD treatment helps you control the impulses that would normally propel you towards illicit substances. The same holds true for ADHD Stimulant Medication- they make you less likely to abuse substances, not more.. They’re not gateway drugs, they’re medicines that help you function as you should. Yes, some people abuse their meds, but these people are the exception, not the rule. If you’re straight up and honest with your therapist (including explaining when you don’t think your current dose is working), take your meds as prescribed, and don’t experiment with other substances, there are no risks associated with ADHD medications, vis-a-vis substance abuse. Your parents need to understand that. They wouldn’t stop you having an asthma inhaler, antihistamines, antibiotics, or painkillers. ADHD Medications help you function every bit as much as each of these medications.

That being said, as you have a history of substance abuse, it’s understandable that your therapist may not want you on stimulant medications. This may be due to the fear that you’d take too many and/or abuse them. It could also be due to a fear that they’d have an adverse affect on your body or brain chemistry, based on whatever you’ve taken before. The first thing to find out is what it is that your specialist is worried about. If it’s the former, request to go on extended release medication, which doesn’t give a ‘rush’, making them MUCH harder to abuse. You could even volunteer to accept a ‘reduced prescription’, if there is such a thing- whereby you only get, say, a week’s worth of pills at a time, to prove you don’t intend to abuse them. It’ll be a pain in the arse for getting them filled, but if it gets you treatment, the hassle is worth it. If it’s the second, say that you’re happy to submit to whatever diagnostic tests they’d require to be satisfied that there’s no risk to your body (EEG, EKG, Blood Work, and CT scans are usually a good start), and regular check-ups to monitor your health.

ADHD stimulant medications are, statistically speaking, the most effective medications available. However, there are more non-stimulant options available than just Wellbutrin and Strattera. If your specialist will hold ABSOLUTELY firm on no stimulants, then you need to try the other non-stimulant options. They are very effective for a large number of people, but you need to try all the options, same as you would have to with the stimulants. In the case of stimulants, most people who don’t do well on Ritalin do well on Adderall, and vice-versa. Same for non-stimulants. Try all of them, and try them at different doses, AS GUIDED BY YOUR SPECIALIST AND PHYSICIAN. Make no decisions regarding your medications without consulting them first, whether that’s increasing dosage, reducing dosage, changing the timing of your doses by more than an hour, or changing the medications altogether.

I also recommend dropping the cannabis. Completely. It’s hard to make a case to medical professionals that you’re responsible enough to take controlled substances under supervision while simultaneously imbibing illicit substances. If it’s legal wherever you are, then fair enough, but it still doesn’t paint the best picture. It’s also, actually, the precise opposite of what you want to do to treat your ADHD. Like alcohol, cannabis is a depressant, not a stimulant. It has directly the opposite effect to ADHD medications, even though some people find it efficacious for their ADHD.

Hope this helps! 🙂