Deciding Which Approach to Take
(ModafinilExpert’s Guide to Quitting Adderall/Ritalin – Part I)
None of this presents any health claims or medical advice whatsoever. This is just my experience with how I successfully came off of my ADHD medication. modafinilexpert.com, its owners, and its affiliates makes no representation or warranty regarding the accuracy, reliability, completeness, currentness, or timeliness of any information provided. See our Disclaimers for more information.
This is for meant for people who actually WANT to quit their ADHD medications. If you'd prefer to stay medicated, that is a personal choice and I respect that.
Table of Contents:
In Part I, we go over the two main approaches to getting off ADHD drugs, and understanding the willpower in both approaches
In Part II, we talk specifically about how to go about slowly tapering off your dosage and how to manage your expectations
In Part III, we cover 2 big obstacles that can wreck havoc on your goals and how to go about dealing with them
In Part IV, we discuss specific measure you can take to prevent this process from being any harder than it has to be
In Part V, I offer my closing thoughts, briefly discuss what happens AFTER you get off your medication, and a viable alternative to hardcore ADHD drugs
This is a topic that I hold very near and dear to me.
A lot of you were labeled as "too energetic" when we were children.
Instead of wanting to sit still and learn boring stuff like math, you wanted to go out and explore the world. In order to sit still in the classroom, you were drugged up on stimulants and told shut up and sit still.
Some of you are college kids. When faced with the challenge of an increasingly difficult course load, you went to your doctor and got diagnosed with ADHD and started taking medication to get an edge in the classroom.
Some of you are really successful and you've busted your ass and come a long way, working early mornings and late nights with a mug of coffee and a bottle of Adderall.
Now you want out, but you can't seem to find a way out. Your love affair with your medication, which promised to cure you and help you get ahead in life has mutated into an abusive relationship with increasingly diminishing returns. You've thought about leaving or you've tried to leave multiple times, but for whatever reason, you eventually feel drawn back to that pill like a magnet. You can't imagine life without it yet that's exactly what you long for.
If you're addicted to Adderall, Ritalin, or any other ADHD-prescribed medication and you have no idea how to break free, you've come to the right place.
Amphetamine/Methylphenidate addiction is no laughing matter. In a lot of ways, its no different from being addicted to hardcore street drugs.
Regardless of how long you've been medicated or how badly addicted you think you are, breaking an amphetamine addiction without going through rehab is an achievable goal for the vast majority of people.
For those of you who have tricked yourselves into believing that you're beyond all hope and your brain can no longer survive without drugs, take a look at this study (the drug they used in that experiment, morphine, is a million times more addictive than Adderall will ever be). You DO have a choice. Don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise.
My personal promise to you: If you apply what I'm about to share with you, you will skew the odds of success heavily in your favor.
Both amphetamine and methylphenidate are powerful stimulants that are also highly addictive in nature. Unlike the populace of methamphetamine users who mostly brink on destitution, the crowd hooked on amphetamine come from a much wider spectrum of walks of life. They are...
A healthy, active 8 year old boy who has recently been handed an Rx for the disorder of "being too energetic"
A college girl struggling to keep up with a heavy course load
A 35 year old businessman who uses his prescription to give him an edge over his competition
The guy who works behind the register at your local Burger King who's been on Adderall since grade school
On one hand, you enjoy benefits you are getting from your medication, but on the other hand you are absolutely miserable with the way its impacting your life and the laundry list of unpleasant side effects.
Maybe you've thought about getting off your medication or maybe you've attempted to quit several times with no luck, and you feel trapped.
If you do a quick google search for "how to quit adderall", the majority of information that is out there is generic in nature and can't directly be applied to your life.
If you've ever tried to quit your ADHD medications and failed, you know how difficult and frustrating the process can be on all levels and its not easy to find a good role model who really understands what you're going through and can steer you in the right direction.
I'm not some guy with a bunch of theories about what "should work". I know what its like to be terribly addicted to my medication and I know how to break free because I have personally done it, I've helped friends of mine quit their medication, and I know what it takes to successfully see this through every step of the way.
Make no mistake, this is a process. If you're looking for an overnight fix, you're out of luck.
I know what it feels like to
Lie in bed for 12 - 16 hours a day from a week without Ritalin, with no energy to get up
Have a huge lack of motivation to do work (partly from physical withdrawal, but mostly because I know how much its going to suck compared to being ON my medication)
Deal with my newfound ravenous appetite that was somehow missing before
Fail to quit over and over again and constantly think to myself "Is this even worth it?"
I've written this guide in such a way that you will be able to implement it and get results regardless of whether you've been medicated for 4 months or 10 years.
One thing you need to understand is that everyone has a different starting point and you have your own individual circumstances that will play into how long it takes for you to beat this.
Don't compare yourself to other people or get discouraged because someone quit in a month, and you're still struggling 4 months into this. Your circumstances are your own and you only need to worry about your own progress.
This is a personal battle that you can absolutely win if you are willing to commit yourself to the process.
Factors that can make this process more difficult:
You are a long term user - People who have been on their meds for only a year or two will have a much easier time than someone who's been on Ritalin since they were 6 years old and have spent the majority of their life on it. If you've spent your entire childhood or adolescence on ADHD meds, it doesn't mean you're a lost cause by any means. I've seen it done and I know it is possible (keep reading to find out how).
Family history of substance abuse problems
Simultaneously being addicted to multiple different substances
Having a habit of stacking amphetamine with other recreational drugs
Multiple Significant Life Stressors - Breaking an amphetamine dependency, especially if you've been on it for years, is no joke. The initial few weeks will be very challenging, and its something you need to be aware of. If there is some crisis going on in your life, it will make it that much harder to go through this process.
If you do choose to go down this road, you need to understand that some point along the way, real life problems are going to come up and tell you that you should wait until later because now is not a good time to quit.
There is no perfect time to quit and there never will be. If you are waiting for the stars to align on the 2nd blue moon of February, you will be left waiting forever.
As a general rule of thumb, the longer you've been using your ADHD meds, and the higher the dosage, the more painful it will be for you to go through this process. Real life stressors will inevitable show up in one form or another leaving you lonely, irritated, or depressed.
When life gets hard, you will be tempted to self-medicate many times over.
I am not saying this to discourage you.
It has happened to me.
It's happened to everyone I know who has successfully quit.
It's happened to everyone who attempts to quit and falls back into the slavery of their medication.
It will inevitably happen to you as well if you choose to go down this road, and you are better off knowing it from the get go.
A lot of people fall into a loop where they slip up, self medicate, beat themselves up, only to do it all over again. If you find yourself continually slipping up and beating yourself up, do this instead.
At the end of the day, write down the circumstances that led you to give in.
When it comes to breaking dependency on ADHD medications, there are two common approaches.
Attempt to quit cold turkey.
Gradually taper off the dosage over an extended period of time.
For 90% of people reading this, approach #2 is the only viable option. Quitting cold turkey is definitely possible, but most people can't do it. We're going to plan for the 90%.
Willpower is a Finite Resource
Every step of the way, you will do your best to take willpower out of the equation. Yes you read that right.
There is a big misconception most people have regarding willpower. People have this idea stuck in their heads that willpower is a bottomless ocean and that most courageous/successful/virtuous people have an endless amount of willpower from which they can draw upon.
Most people like to believe that they have a strong force of will and they can achieve anything they set their mind to. It sounds like the kind of thing you'd hear at a college or high school graduation. It gets you hyped up, excited, and optimistic about your future.
In reality, the exact opposite is true. No matter who you are, you have a limited amount of willpower at your disposal when you're trying to achieve a goal. It's like a muscle that you can strengthen and hone with practice, but it has its limits.
People who tell you to quit a serious drug addiction through just "willpower" are idiots who don't know what they're talking about.
Personally, I've only ever known one person who had managed to break a hard, hard amphetamine addiction (and various others) through willpower alone.
That would be Harry. You probably have very little in common with him, but his story proves a very interesting point.
This is a guy who had been using/abusing recreational drugs for 8 years straight.
I've done my fair share of experimentation and have a lot of friends who were very much into recreational drugs when we partied together. Considering the degree to which he abused all kinds of substances, I have no idea how he had any kind of functioning life (he didn't).
Eating 10 tabs of LSD in a single go
Stacking dangerously high quantities of research chemicals like 25i and 4-ACO-DMT
Snorting hundreds of milligrams of amphetamine salts at a time on a regular basis
Staying awake for literally days at a time for no goddamn reason
Being high on weed 24/7.
Every time I stop to think about it, I am genuinely shocked that this guy didn't drop dead from a heart attack.
Guess what? He is 100% clean today and he has been that way for the past 8 months.
When I reached to him and asked him how he did it, he said one day he decided that he was just tired of the endless yo-yo of emotions and being high all the time.
And that was that. He quit cold turkey and hadn't looked back since.
The 5 months that proceeded were very painful, not as much physically but moreso psychologically. For the first few weeks, he could hardly get out of bed and felt exhausted all the time. After the first 2 or 3 weeks, the hardest part was coming to grips with reality and coming up with a game plan for how he was going to move on.
For all you guys and girls wondering if it's possible to live without your Adderall prescription, this guy is living proof that it is possible. If you're thinking to yourself "I've been on it for so long I can't imagine life without it", here's a guy that probably had it a lot worse than you or I ever will.
Harry's success story is rather uncommon because that's not how it usually happens. He never went to any counselor, he didn't have any "support people", and he never went through any kind of rehab or formal detox.
He admits that for him, gradually weaning his dose would have never worked. He was a drug addict and he knew it...
Going cold turkey, if done successfully, gets faster results. The problem is most people usually have to hit rock bottom just like Harry did, before they change for good.
For every Harry that successfully quit cold turkey, there are 100 others who have tried it dozens of times to no avail.
If quitting cold turkey worked for you, you probably wouldn't be reading this guide (unless you're just curious).
The reason the cold turkey approach has such a low success rate is exposed when you take a closer look at the core ingredient that makes or breaks it...
Willpower is a finite resource
Willpower is a finite resource
Willpower is a finite resource
Willpower is a finite resource
Read that over and over and get it drilled into your head.
While I have nothing against optimism, I do have something against optimistic lies and delusional thinking.
If most people, including myself, were to have stepped into Harry's shoes, most of us would fail if we relied on willpower alone. The only reason he managed to break free through force of will alone was because he would have rather died than go back to flirting with his addiction forever.
Most "normal" people who take amphetamine based medications/drugs aren't so far gone that they'd die from withdrawal if they quit cold turkey.
But in his case, death was a very real possibility simply due to the ridiculous dosages he would regularly take.
You have to be honest with yourself and gauge whether or not you have what it takes to quit cold turkey. If you genuinely believe that you can and you're hell bent on getting your life back, then go for it.
If you feel yourself continually slipping up, its time to come to grips with reality and realize that this isn't the best approach for you.
There is a better option for you, my friend.
Sure it requires work, but it is far less painful, and puts you in a much better position to succeed.
Think of overcoming your addiction like running in a race, except you're the only competitor. Your only objective is to finish the race with the best time possible.
One approach is to try and sprint the whole race and try and get it over with as fast as possible. If you don't have too far to run (you've only recently started using Adderall) and you have a huge amount of emotional commitment, going cold turkey may be your best option.
On the flip side, if you have a long windy road ahead of you (you're a long term user), and you can honestly say to yourself that you don't have superhuman motivation to finish, you would be way better off taking things slow and steady in order to guarantee your success.
Continued in Part II (How to Gradually Taper Down Your Dosage)