I have often wondered how one allows his or herself to step on the path to addiction and not have the common sense or foresight of where they are heading. My story is one of prescription drug addiction that started while I was in college.
By the start of my freshman year at a distinguished university, I knew for sure that I was too intelligent and proud of this opportunity to let drugs or partying even remotely get in the way of my education. Being a rather serious and naturally introverted person, I did the opposite of what every other kid on my campus did and hit the books instead of the abundance of house parties which occurred almost nightly. As the first in my family to be granted an attempt at higher education, I was celebrating the college experience in my own way by burying myself in my studies to be the best student possible every day of the week.
While I had never felt this proud of my hard work and grades, I was also beginning to feel the mental drain and exhaustion produced by this unremitting schedule. This monotony and fatigue started overtaking my days and nights, slowly smothering my desire to thrive academically. I began asking myself “It’s only been two months?” and “How can I keep this up for another four years?” This is when my roommate told me about every struggling college student’s best study friend Adderall (of course he never mentioned the possibility of prescription drug addiction!), and how the girl down the hall had a prescription for it but never used them. He and several others had been buying them off her so I figure “it can’t hurt to try it.” After taking my first one, a surge of energy and motivation came over me that I hadn’t felt in years. I couldn’t believe this little pill could fire me up so much to do schoolwork, (or anything for that matter) and how it made me even enjoy the learning itself. I knew right then that I had made the right choice and that this is what I needed to get me through college.
By my second semester, the spark of that exuberant work ethic just wasn’t the same anymore. After doubling and tripling my dosage, I began to realize that I was chasing that rush of productivity almost daily now. But I didn’t care, and kept on buying them from whoever I could. Figuring that it is a legal type of medicine, I did not anticipate the power of this amphetamine. The fact that I was no longer able to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time was not helping this incessant paranoia now within me, so I started going out nightly with my partier roommate to drink myself into a comfortable sleep. For the next year and a half I had the same routine of several Adderalls for breakfast, another pick me up helping in the afternoon, and boozing myself to bed in the evening. It was obvious to my parents and friends when I came home one summer that I had not only lost a lot of weight, but my erratic behavior was becoming quite aggressive as my sanity was being overwhelmed by a paranoid and delusional reality. At this point I knew I had developed a prescription drug addiction and needed professional help to get off of Aderall.
My parents sent me to Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches for prescription drug addiction treatment. I remember feeling very nervous and afraid. In my mind I had imagined being surrounded by hardcore drug users, maybe even criminals (which there weren’t), and wondered how was I going to function and get anything done without my Adderall. In reality, what I found was the opposite of all my fears about attending a drug treatment center! Everyone was so sympathetic, from the staff to the other patients that I met there during my treatment. Each staff member I met seem to personally understand the severity of my addiction, and further complications of the amphetamine/alcohol relationship, and how I had started out with only good intentions for using the drug. I learned that their other patients were also wonderful judgment-free individuals, and had so much in common with me. The fact that most of my counselors were in recovery themselves was living proof that I really didn’t need Adderall or any other prescription drug to function.
It has been a year and a half since I left Behavioral Health, and I am now in my second year of graduate school. I have finally answered my once desperate question of how I functioned before my prescription drug addiction.