As far as I can remember, I was the first kid I knew to be diagnosed with ADHD. This was back in the 90’s before it became commonplace. At that time Adderall was, for most people, unheard of. It has since become one of the most abused drugs on the market and although I stopped taking it years ago, I wanted to share my personal experience with it and offer a few suggestions for natural supplementation.
When I first starting taking Adderall, I immediately noticed that it made it much easier to function in a class setting. I felt very dialed in - like I could sit down and read the Bible cover to cover in one sitting. For a rambunctious 8th grader, it was a godsend. Except for one thing. I hated it.
The problem is that I liked being the way I was and I felt like my medication was make me a little less me. Actually, it made me a lot less me. It was a trade off though, because I definitely performed better in school.
After some time, I decided to stop taking Adderall. This was a unilateral decision. I didn’t even tell my parents. I would just pretend to take my pill every morning before school and then throw it into the bushes on my way to the bus stop. I probably threw thousands of my parents’ dollars worth of medicine into those bushes over the years. What’s funny is, looking back, I’m sure they would have been fine with me not taking it if I told them I didn’t like it. I probably should have handled that differently.
Now, as an adult, I have learned to deal with ADHD in a different way. I still don’t like to take Adderall, even though there are clear benefits to taking it. I’ve found natural dietary supplements, like Fox Thoughts, that help me to focus without some of the negative side effects that come along with ADHD medications.
I’ve also found that a lot of people are taking Adderall now. A lot. And many of those people don't even really have ADHD. They just want to be able to study longer. Some people use them to cram for tests while others use them just to get work done. And sources say that as many as 20-30 percent of all college students are currently using Adderall.
Do you want to hear something funny about using Adderall to study for a test? It doesn’t work. That’s right, it doesn’t work. People who use it to study for a test don’t actually perform better on the test than those who don’t. But, when asked how they think they did, those who took Adderall feel more confident about their results than those who didn’t, even though their results aren’t any different.
What are the risks?
As a kid, I stopped taking Adderall because it made me feel less like myself and more like a robot. I honestly wasn’t interested in the actual documented side effects at that point because I was invincible back then. But the negative effects are just too pronounced to ignore. Things like headaches, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in sex, and diarrhea can occur, just to name a few of the funnier ones. Some of the more serious side effects include seizures, hallucinations or delusions, uncontrollable behavior, uncontrolled movements or sounds, and swelling of the face, among others.
Those things sound scary - and I’ve experienced a few of them myself - but the scariest part for me are the long term side effects. There is evidence that long term Adderall use may damage short term memory and lead to chronic depression, hostility, paranoia, premature aging, and chronic sleeping problems. Actually, the full list of long and short term side effects almost looks like a joke with how long it is and how horrible some of the line items are.
Side effects of Adderall include:
- Blurred vision
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Dry mouth or unpleasant taste in the mouth and bad breath
- stomach pain
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of interest in sex, impotence, and/or difficulty having an orgasm
- Muscle tics
- Erratic behavior
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and throat
- Adderall is habit forming and chronic use may lead to dependence
Perceived as being safe
One study found that 8 out of 10 students think that Adderall was either completely safe or had a very low risk. In reality, it is a Schedule II drug, which is in the same category as morphine, oxycodone, and cocaine. It was classified this way because it has a high risk of abuse and it can cause severe psychological and physical dependence. Your doctor might not tell you that part though. I don’t know, maybe he will but mine didn’t. And now I’m a hostile, paranoid jerk with a swollen face. ;)
Natural alternatives to Adderall
For those of us who, despite our ADHD, function just fine without medication (or maybe even enjoy the person we are when not on Adderall), there are other great options out there. Healthy eating is a good first step. Supplements like Ginkgo Biloba, Vinpocetine, and L-Tyrosine can be very helpful and healthy options, as well. Or, like I mentioned above, supplements like Fox Thoughts that combine various vitamins, minerals, and herbs that have been show to help with focus and mental stamina.
At this point, I should probably disclose something that is probably obvious to you already - I’m not a doctor. I’m not qualified to give you medical advice of any kind. I’m just an regular adult with ADHD - average height, not really attractive or unattractive, probably a 5 out of 10 on a good hair day, mostly bald, though, so good hair days are less and less common; and I love being the best version of me I can be.