When parents steal their children’s medicine
This post is dedicated to the story of my patient Erin, who was addicted to Adderall.
Erin checked herself into my rehabilitation facility after what she described as a near-death experience brought on by her addiction to Adderall. She had been abusing the prescription drug for about five years. The moment when she knew she had to stop taking the pills came one night when she was lying in bed, her heart pounding. She had found an old prescription for Adderall that day, and since her old prescription ran out and she hadn’t refilled it yet, she took the old ones. Thinking they were perhaps expired and therefore less effective, she took much more than her regular dose, which was already quite high. She felt foggy and not herself all day, and the medicine didn’t have the desired effects. As she lay in bed, she felt and heard her heart beating so rapidly, she thought she was going to have a heart attack. She described lying in bed trying to relax and breathe slowly to slow her heart rate. Erin wanted to call 911, but she was ashamed of her addiction and didn’t want to wake her sleeping son.
Erin was a single mother with a teenage son. He had been diagnosed as having ADHD and was prescribed Adderall for his condition. Erin saw the change in her son after starting the medication. He was performing better in school and sports and had even started making more friends. Erin thought perhaps the ADHD was genetic, and she might benefit from taking Adderall, as well.
Instead of seeing a doctor, Erin started taking her son’s medicine. When she found how much she loved the high Adderall gave her (endless amounts of energy, less need for sleep, feeling on top of the world), she looked up the symptoms to describe to a doctor to get her own prescription, which she supplemented with her son’s pills and other ADHD medications she bought whenever she had a chance.
Erin’s story is not uncommon when it comes to abuse of Adderall and other ADHD medications. Prescription pills should only be taken by the person they are prescribed to and only at the recommended dose. Erin completed treatment and is happily clean and sober and will be seeing her son off to college soon.