Why does Hydrocodone Help my ADHD, and Adderall XR does not?

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    • #100049

      Help!!! I am prescribed 5 mg hydrocodone for my herniated disks in my back. (I usually take one pill in the evening). After taking it, I am so much more focused and productive. It does not have a sedating effect for me at all. I have always been adhd but hated the way the meds made me feel when I was younger so just stopped taking them. I recently thought I would give it another try now that I’m older and its hard to pay attention in church for even 15 minutes, as well as watch a tv show without having to stop and rewind 50 times bc my mind wandered. I went to the psychiatrist and am now taking Adderall XR 25 mg. He wants me to stick it out and has went up 5 mg every 2 weeks until I’m at the “correct dose” for me. However, I just don’t feel like it’s working at all. I have no motivation to do anything which is really unlike me. I also feel like my anxiety is much worse. (Which I already take meds for) I’m wondering if anyone has ever experienced this same issue. If so, did certain kind of adhd medication help give you motivation and focus like hydrocodone does for me? I’ve been reading about Kratom for a few weeks and am tempted to give it a try, but I have no idea where to start. They have many different strains. Has anyone had success with it? If so, which kind and dosage seemed to work for you? I desperately want to find something so I can have some sort of normalcy in life. Thank you so so much!

    • #100052

      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.

    • #100080

      Not sure this will answer the question you asked, but I found it interesting because hydrocodone is the only pain reliever that works for severe pain for me. I have had loads of dental problems and a couple ankle surgeries and tried many different pain meds, depending on my doctor’s favorite remedies. But even morphine (which is in the opiate family) and plain codeine (which hydrocodone is a synthetic version of) make me more sedated than relieved of pain. Because I am an RN, I am very aware of the dangers of addictions and opiate attractiveness, but I have not felt it makes me “high” at all. I am very careful about this, because if it is the only pain reliever that works for me, I am terrified of needing actual pain meds for a surgery, etc, and if I am addicted to a narcotic already, it will take massive doses to make a difference. So I take it very rarely. And they are coming down hard on narcotics prescribing, so much that even people in actual pain are having trouble getting it.
      This ability of a specific drug to correct/enhance a unique person’s chemical imbalance is an interesting thought because I definitely have ADD (re: focus, not hyperactivity) and was also diagnosed as an adult. I have found Concerta works for me, although I still have to be very accepting of the ADD symptoms that like to break through and cause me trouble from time to time. I try to embrace wholeheartedly the differences in me that make me special; it is a way better philosophy than beating myself up because I am not like the “normal” people in the world. That attitude is a result of years of bullying, victimization, and shame for me as I am. As kids, ADD/ADHD wasn’t a “thing” until the later 70’s, and the boys got most of that attention. Despite this, I have felt the need to try a few different ADHD meds before settling on (the right dose of) Concerta. Give it a try and if your doctor isn’t with you about trying different options after a 4-6 or 6-8 week trial, get another psychiatrist. One treatment does not fit all. *** Researchers? Interesting study drug for ADD—hydrocodone?

    • #100094

      This is just a personal observation I’ve made, but it seems like opiates have that effect of increasing motivation and focus on virtually everyone, whether they have ADD or not. I got a severe ear infection one time and was prescribed Vicodin for it, and it sure had that effect on me (I do have ADD by the way) and I even went to the library to study, which is definitely not normal for me as I am not the best student. As Barzilla mentioned, the dopamine release caused by the hydrocodone explains the boost in motivation and focus. The problem with opiates is that they are very addictive and can’t be used long-term without developing a physical dependency on them, at which point they lose most of their efficacy due to tolerance.

      Did you say you’re also taking medication for anxiety? What kind of meds? I have both ADD and generalized anxiety disorder and had the same experience with Adderall before I started taking an antidepressant to treat my anxiety (Lexapro in my case). It would cause me to become overstimulated just like you describe, with my mind jumping all over the place, really bad anxiety, and no motivation to do anything because I was so hypersensitive to everything–all I’d want to do is go into my room, turn down the lights, and watch TV to shut out the outside world. I was getting the Adderall from just a normal family doctor to save money, but when I started having issues I decided to see an actual psychiatrist that knows much more about medications and stuff. Well, first thing he did was prescribe me Lexapro, temporarily taking me off of the Adderall to allow my body to adjust to the antidepressant. After a couple of months when I got used to the Lexapro and found a good dosage, my psychiatrist put me back on the Adderall and wow, it was like taking a different medication. It no longer made me anxious or overstimulated, as if the Lexapro was acting like a buffer and keeping my brain chemistry in check, and it gave me lots of motivation and focus like it’s supposed to. I’d still feel quite anxious at the end of each day when the Adderall would wear off, but not nearly as bad as before. I’ve now switched to Vyvanse, which is basically a purified version of Adderall XR that has a slower, smoother release. As a result, it doesn’t have as bad of a comedown/crash and I only experience mild anxiety now when it starts to wear off.

      I’d be wary of Kratom. It hasn’t been studied very much at all, it appears to be addictive and some people have reported becoming dependent on it and having withdrawal symptoms when stopping, and it isn’t regulated by the FDA so it’s impossible to know exactly what you’re getting. I wouldn’t use it personally, but if you decide to, please be very careful and monitor yourself for any signs that you may be becoming addicted, such as tolerance.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by wthrman. Reason: Accidentally included the OP's post in my reply
    • #100100


      have you ever considered you may have anxiety/depression along with your ADHD? Most people do. When I first started taking Adderall, my feelings of anxiety went through the roof; I still couldn’t focus. My Psych suggested trying an anti-anxiety med along with my Adderall. I was reluctant to add yet another pharm to my regimen, so he suggested trying Valerian root instead. (Nature’s valium; that’s where “valium” originally came from!) . So now I take Valerian 3x a day in addition to the Adderall. It STINKS something fierce, but it works. I can focus better than ever!

      The thing about Vicodin (hydrocodone) is that it numbs your nerve endings; that’s how it kills the pain. Vicodin doesn’t target ‘just’ pain receptors; it hits everything; it could be it’s numbing the parts of your brain most affected by ADHD. This is just a guess, but I guessing the Vicodin is also ‘numbing’ your anxiety levels. (Remember, “anxiety” and “panic” are not the same thing. Anxiety can manifest itself in a LOT of different ways.) Good luck!

    • #100142

      It’s been years since I’ve been on painkillers, I had a prescription for kidney stones but I abused them and it didn’t take long for it to lead to a full-blown opioid addiction. One thing I remember very clearly is when reaching euphoria I’d be up for anything so if I was at work tasks I normally struggled with or hated to do I would totally do them cause I was in such a good mood. Obviously, that didn’t last and when the meds wore off I’d become extremely irritable and my tolerance kept going up. I started on 5mg of hydrocodone and when I finally got help 3 years later I was taking 80mg of hydrocode plus 20mg-60mg of Oxycontin. I’ve been off painkillers for 9 years now which were traded for suboxone. However, sometimes I miss the relaxed carefree feeling I had when I would take them but I wouldn’t trade anything to get back into that addiction. From what you mentioned you have actual pain so it’s necessary for you to take your medication but that feeling you get where you can focus and relax might be a sign of euphoria from the medication and that’s something you want to watch out for especially if you have addiction issues that run in the family.

    • #100150

      I missed the part about the Kratom earlier. Honestly if Kratom works for you, then I say go for it. They have done addiction tests on it and found it to not be physically addictive, though you can most definitely develop a psychological one (though that is true of everything… Even television or forums). If you think about it people who take a medication to be able to function normally (or at least their version of normal) are dependant on a drug, though it is in a controlled setting.

      As for the Kratom, the largest issue is that the US is currently trying to either ban or schedule it, so you could become psychologically dependant on it and have it taken away from you cold turkey, which often leads to depression if you were using it to treat ADHD symptoms.

    • #100209

      Endorphins help a lot of people focus. Pain meds boost endorphins. Question solved! Have a great day! 🙂

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