Will Adderall kill me, and can I take it on occasion?
April 26, 2007 9:13 PM Subscribe
Two questions about ADD medication, especially Adderall: 1) How dangerous is it (for me)? 2) Can it be taken "as needed"?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Since I was young child I've had problems concentrating; I started school early but was held back a year for failing to pay attention, and then switched back and forth between "gifted" and "troubled" programs, etc. I'm still constantly forgetting and losing stuff and often unable to focus on tasks until after the last minute. I've nevertheless managed to cope, more or less, and should soon manage to complete a doctoral degree at a major university (they've been remarkably kind, letting me finish my degree in almost twice the time it usually takes--I'm now 35).
I'm tempted to ask about medication for ADD. This summer I have to finish and defend my dissertation, and while I'm quite close to completion, I'm nevertheless afraid that I might fail to do this, which I'm not sure I could bear.
Getting to my first question, then: the reason I've never really pursued the possibility of using ADD medication is that I think I may on occasions have benign heart palpitations. When I started to notice these, perhaps a decade ago, an EKG reveled a partial right bundle branch blockage which, they say, is supposed to be a pretty insignificant and common condition.
Here's the thing however: I don't even know that I *have* had palpitations. If I do on occasion have these, they never involve more that a few skipped beats, and have never produced faintness or other symptoms (I've never had a holter test). Additionally, these events seem to have become less frequent than in the past (or perhaps I don't notice them so much any more). All the same, the possibility of "sudden cardiac death" as a result of using stimulants has been a powerful deterrent to my asking about using Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera, etc.
Now however (as more and more of my students attest to the effectiveness of Adderall) I'm wondering whether an excessive paranoia about sudden cardiac death or etc. has kept me from trying medication that could make a major difference in my life, and I wonder: how dangerous *is* ADD medication (especially Adderall) for someone in my state? How much worse is it, for example, than caffeine, which I drink all the time? Mightn't I try it, in a controlled setting at first, and discontinue use if anything worrying occurs?
Also, I wonder whether it's possible to get a prescription that allows one to take ADD medication "as needed"? I hate the idea of long-term use of stimulants, which I suspect can't be good for one's cardiac system. I've (almost) managed to cope for a long time without medication, and on days when I'm just running errands or etc., I can manage fine. I'd like to take a medicine that doesn't give me the heart-damage of long term use of stimulants, or flatten my creativity, or my usual spacey digressiveness, except when it's necessary to do so. I think that people with real ADD can *sorta* get by without medication---I'm pretty sure that many can, and that I'm one of those people. Therefore, if it's not inadvisable, I'd like to try taking a low dose of Adderall on occasions when I need to fix my concentration on something and it just won't happen.
So, how likely is stimulant-type ADD medicine to kill me, and is it possible to legally take these medicines only "as needed"? Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.