Reply To: ADULT ADHD ADDICTION

#76815
SueS
Participant

Hi! I, too, struggle with an addiction to binge eating. I have also been on a stimulant for just over a year, but my psychiatrist doesn’t want to take a stand whether I have ADHD or “undertreated depression”, he calls it – since distractibility, irritability, fatigue, etc., can be symptoms of depression/anxiety as well. Long story. But I agree with you about the stimulant helping to keep a sense of well-being throughout the day, and remain productive, engaged, and focused on tasks at hand. I have never felt like this before, or at least not for 15-20 years? It’s hard to remember back farther than that.
Anyway, my son has diagnosed ADHD (4 years now) and goes to a different psychiatrist. He has changed medications a few times and has had his dosage adjusted up over time. His doctor is very knowledgeable about the different stimulants, how they work, what the risks are, etc. We feel very lucky to have this doctor. I know not everyone can have a doctor like this, but my recommendation is that a doctor who works with patients on stimulants routinely, should be able to answer your questions. I don’t know whether a family practitioner will. Generally you switch meds because your body starts to build up a tolerance, and a slight change in the molecule will allow you to start over on a different med at a lower dose. Then you can switch back to the previous med at the same dose and get more of an effect, once your body has “forgotten” about it a little bit. My son’s dose has increased over time, not due to his getting physically larger, but I think due to this tolerance effect. I think it is pretty common to switch back and forth between meds, every 6-12 months (often going off or switching to a different one over the summer). That might not be so applicable to adults, but my point is that if you are worried about side effects, a knowledgeable doctor might be able to keep you on lower doses to reduce the amount of side effects. Typically getting to the right dose is a balance of good therapeutic effect without side effects.
I don’t know if part of the reason you are worried about staying on for life or the dose / side effects is the addiction factor? I think maybe, because of the title of your post. I think about it every time I pick up my prescription. I need to talk to my doctor this week about “dependency” vs. addiction and if there is a difference. My current understanding is that if you are using a medication like this within a doctor’s guidelines and only up to the therapeutic response level, AND if you actually need it due to an ADHD nervous system, you don’t get the “high” from it because it actually slows your brain down so you can focus? So there isn’t the danger of addiction that there might be with “normal” people taking / abusing the same drugs? But like I said, I need to ask my doctor because I know untreated, ADHD tends to lead people toward addiction as an attempt to self-medicate. I haven’t really asked myself the question yet of whether I will need to stay on these meds for life, but your post is a good reminder for me and food for thought.
Good luck to you – I hope you get other answers as well, especially from other adults more experienced in treating adult ADHD!