Partner refuses to take medicine properly

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Relationships Partner refuses to take medicine properly

Viewing 4 reply threads
  • Author
    • #91690

      I’ve been dating the guy of my dreams for 2 1/2 years. We’ve been best friends for 10 years, since we met in college.

      However, he is going through withdrawal multiple times a week–literally every week–because he refuses to take his medication as prescribed.

      He’s on Vyvanse and is afraid of building up tolerance, so his solution is to take it on work days, then go off of it for weekends. Or skip when he just doesn’t feel like it.

      So 2-3 times every week, he gets both massively depressed and combative. He reacts very badly to medication withdrawal generally, to the point that when he was experiencing Adderall withdrawal last year (after one month of being on it), he started climbing up the fence of a major highway. I seriously don’t trust him to be alone with himself when he’s in withdrawal, but it’s also miserable and stressful to be around him when he’s like this. It’s impacting my work and it’s starting make my family worry, because they witness him being out-of-control angry fairly often.

      He’s never laid a hand on me. But he does punch things, break things, and yell. I grew up in a house with some minor abuse and a lot of yelling, so I feel super insecure and unsafe when he’s like this. But any time I bring up his anger patterns, he is genuinely wounded, because he is trying to be more expressive. He feels like I’m asking him to go back to hiding his whole soul in a closet—that’s not it at all. I just want balance.

      I get that medication is personal. I get that learning to be at peace with medication takes time. But there’s a point at which it’s NOT personal.

      I’m really frustrated right now.

      Maybe he’s afraid to be on a medication full-time because the withdrawal is so severe. Maybe he’s trying to be considerate and never take enough to be as bats**t crazy as he was last year during that horrible come-down.

      So here are my questions (thanks for hearing me out):

      1. Is it fair for me to require 100% one way or the other? I want him to either pick medication and take it every day, or never touch anything again. I can’t stand the whiplash of going back and forth. If he can’t jump in with both feet and commit to a solution, I cannot forsee being happy in this relationship anymore.

      2. I would sincerely prefer him to take medicine. Without anything, he’s depressed to the point of suicidal glorification a couple times a year. That’s hard too. SO… if he does choose medicine, what kind of plan can we have in place for managing his withdrawal in the event that he runs out accidentally, or eventually has to go off it after several years? I need him to be safe, and I can’t do it alone.

      Thanks in advance,
      <3 Mhafweet

      PS. Please don’t judge. He’s a golden soul in every other way. There’s a reason we’re together.

    • #91721

      Ultimately, ADHD treatment is not a personal choice. It affects everyone who must be around it. So, unless someone is willing to end up alone because they chased everyone out of their life, they must respect the feedback they’re getting from those they want to be around.

      Has he been given direct feedback about how his behavior makes those around him feel?
      Does he understand your past, and how his behavior brings up the pain of it (i.e. feeling super insecure and unsafe)?

      I would say the first step is to take stock and make sure your experience is communicated clearly and without any chance of misinterpretation. In the end, you’ll fail if you try to micro-manage his treatment. He will experience it as an attack and a judgement on so many levels. It’s best to explain why you feel the need to do so, and let him decide if he cares enough about you (and the others his behavior affects) to care enough about his treatment.

      In the end, you can only control you. You may have to day, “on days when you don’t take your meds, please don’t be around me.” But I would not recommend starting there. Try to have a direct and honest conversation first, provide resources like articles from this site, etc. Try to show him how skipping meds not only affects his quality of life, but the experience of those around him.

      • #91763

        I’ve been married to my ADHD spouse for almost 23 years. It is hard, and sometimes I want to give up, but he is my soulmate, my person, my soft place to land and I will never give up. One thing that “struck” me from your post is that if he used to keep everything bottled up, it will take time for him to learn how to manage his emotions. From personal experience, I know that shutting down your emotions for years leads to chaos when you finally start feeling them again.

    • #91787

      Hello. You might consider there’s more going on here than ADHD. I don’t believe it’s typical for vyvance to cause violent withdrawal symptoms after 5 days use? I’ve taken it on weekdays only for 7 years with no issues. Violent outbursts aren’t a typical ADHD symptom. Perhaps he needs to take some responsibility for his lack of emotional control and anger issues? These rages rarely get better and more frequently, they escalate. Please take a hard, realistic look at the situation—from what you’ve said, he’s a troubled guy… unfortunately, only he can do the work to change that.

    • #91804

      I believe there is more going on than ADHD, too, because very often there is something else, like anxiety. I don’t think it’s wise to give an ultimatum, but like the first response said, you need to communicate what’s going on inside. I would suggest going with him to appointments to tell the doctor what you see. My husband and daughter are both terrible at mentally cataloging and remembering what goes on between appointments, sometimes to the extent that my jaw drops and I stare in shock. My daughter will say she’s fine, like it’s a social call or something, even when she’s a mess. I put my two cents in regularly. As for medication compliance, he is the only one who can do it, but the doctor may be able to reassure him that whatever objections he has about taking the meds is unfounded. Always make sure the doctor knows as much as possible. They may need to change or adjust his medication or educate him about it. A piece of unsolicited advice you should feel free to to ignore is to seriously consider whether you should have children together. Many conditions are hereditary and it is devastating to realize you passed your struggles on to someone else. We both passed on our “stuff” and I often think it would’ve been so much better if we had fostered or adopted children. My postpartum depression changed all our lives for the worse, not to mention that I would feel compassion, but not guilt or responsibility for passing on the issues a nonbiological child would face. I say that now because you may want to be extra super careful now even if you aren’t anywhere near thinking of kids. I wish someone would’ve told me that in the early days, so I’m telling you.

    • #91860
      Penny Williams

      Some people cannot tolerate taking stimulant medication some days and not others. It’s a drastic yo-yo of the way the brain is functioning, including emotions.

      I think you’re well within your rights to let him know that you can’t continue in the relationship the way it is because of the volatility and lack of consistency.

      Another consideration is that the Vyvanse may not be the right ADHD medication for him. There are two types of stimulants: amphetamine (Adderall, Vyvanse, Evekeo…) and methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Quillivant…). Almost everyone does well on one type or the other, but not both. Learn more details here:

      A Patient’s Primer on the Stimulant Medications Used to Treat ADHD

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

Viewing 4 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.