Can I chew away my ADHD?
March 16, 2009 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Should I take nicorette gum for my ADHD?

Has anyone tried nicorette to control ADHD? What are the side effects? What are the risks?

I am having a really hard time focusing. I had to discontinue my medication two years ago because I lost my health insurance. Without health insurance, Adderall would cost me almost $300. I know I could get generic Ritalin a lot cheaper, but I'm not crazy about Ritalin's side effects.

I tried alternative stuff like omega 3 and choline supplements, removing sugar from my diet, and gettting extra exercise. None of those things really help me, in fact, exercise sometimes make my ADHD worse.

I used to drink caffeinated beverages, it helped somewhat, but it caused me to have longer/painful periods. I don't want that!
posted by sixcolors to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no idea if it helps one focus because I only used it to try and quit smoking. It didn't work very well because that stuff burns the inside of your mouth. I couldn't handle my throat stinging constantly and went back to smoking.
posted by mkb at 2:00 PM on March 16, 2009

I'm not a doctor, but this sounds like a baaaaad idea. Do you smoke? If so, you're not supposed to chew Nicorette due to potential nicotine overdose. If not... do you really want to become addicted to nicotine? "This medication should not be used by anyone who is a non-smoker or occasional smoker." There are lots of drug interactions and possible side effects as well... not to mention Nicroette is GROSS.
posted by changeling at 2:04 PM on March 16, 2009

Couldn't you smoke cigarettes instead? Or get some Adderall from that friend of yours? I mean, this sounds like an even worse idea than that question where you wanted to spraypaint a rabbit to liven up your living room.

There are some basic health insurance plans that are cheaper per month than a box of Nicorette. I don't know if they cover part of the price of Adderall, or if you qualify for them, but you really should have health insurance.

Do the side effects of generic Ritalin outweigh the benefits? Maybe there's another cheaper-than-Adderall prescription med out there that is actually intended for ADHD that you could try? Have you talked to a doctor about your inability to afford your meds? In my experience doctors are pretty understanding about the cost of prescription drugs and will try to work with you when they can.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:05 PM on March 16, 2009 [6 favorites]

The nicotine in Nicorette will probably give you worse cramps - smoking always makes my cramps worse. And plus it's gross and burny and if you don't smoke now it will make you all dizzy and spacey and completely unable to focus at all. Not good.

There are programs for people who can't afford their prescription drugs - through the drug companies themselves and, it looks like, places like I haven't tried these places, but maybe someone else has and can offer recommendations.
posted by harperpitt at 2:05 PM on March 16, 2009

Response by poster: I know I am not supposed to take nicorette if I am a non-smoker. I'm just desperate. I do know that nicotine influences dopamine levels like the ADD medications.

I am open to any other suggestions besides nicotine.
posted by sixcolors at 2:08 PM on March 16, 2009

Can you afford other generics? Dexedrine is now available as a generic. If not, perhaps a doctor can suggest to you effective and affordables alternatives, especially ones that are more suitable for long-term use.
posted by jeather at 2:10 PM on March 16, 2009

It's nicotine, sixcolors. An addictive substance that might make you FEEL better, but doesn't do anything for ADHD in itself. You're asking the equivalent of "fifth of bourbon for sleep: yes or no?". Go to a clinic and try to find a caring doctor or social worker who'll help you get the medicine you need.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 2:12 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There is a generic Adderall, just not a generic Adderall XR.
posted by clerestory at 2:15 PM on March 16, 2009

Response by poster: clerestory, I thought it was the other way around. I will look into that.
posted by sixcolors at 2:16 PM on March 16, 2009

Best answer: Besides nicotine, there's always your friend and coffee table.

Seriously, if you have a medical need, you need the medicine. I'm surprised you aren't on your parents' insurance, but... you can get insurance from your school sometimes, or independently, or you can get on public services (Medicaid).

Or, why not ask a doctor about dexedrine? It's close to a generic for Adderall, and I've read that it is $4 at WalMart, but unadvertised because these are controlled substances.
posted by Houstonian at 2:17 PM on March 16, 2009

I had to discontinue my medication two years ago because I lost my health insurance. Without health insurance, Adderall would cost me almost $300.

uh, aren't you in grad school? your school insurance should be covering your medication.
posted by lia at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2009

Response by poster: Re: dexedrine. I never tried it before, and I didn't even know it was still around. I will look into this!
posted by sixcolors at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2009

Mod note: few comments removed. This needs to stay pretty narrowly on topic -- OP and responders -- please stick to that
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:29 PM on March 16, 2009

I think you guys, particularly shownomercy, are being overly harsh on sixcolors.
That said, chewing nicotine gum sounds like a terrible idea. Not only will it make you sick, nicotine gum tastes awful and BURNS. Ask your doctor about generics.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2009

I don't take medication for my Tourette Syndrome. I self-medicate by smoking. Really, I smoke because I am totally addicted, but I started when I was 14 when I read a study showing that nicotine helps regular TS (a disorder rooted in dopamine irregularities like ADHD), and kept smoking when I found out it works.

Anyway, the concept isn't as completely retarded as it seems at first glance, but as someone who's done the same thing, it's a terrible idea. Really. It might help a little, but it's not going to make it go away, and the amount of money you're going to spend on nicotine gum over a lifetime of nicotine addiction isn't a sweet bargain compared to the generic medications others have pointed out.
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:53 PM on March 16, 2009

Ah, nicotine usage is very common in ADHD patients who are self-medicating. It's right up there with caffeine. I have seen a lot of the teens I helped go through that as a cycle. So, yes, it will help. It just won't help much.

Is it advisable? Not particularly. It's nowhere near as good as a targeted medication for ADHD. I am told that it is not particularly tasty, either.

I would follow the advice of the previous posters: look for generics. I know you are self-employed and, if I am correct, no longer a student. However, it might be worth casting about for social support in your area; there may be agencies willing to take you on for a reduced fee, just long enough for you to get a script.
posted by adipocere at 3:07 PM on March 16, 2009

avoid dexedrine if you can, it's also really nasty in lots of ways. Look into generic aderall first, I think. Obviously all solutions are "less of possible evils" solutions. Best of luck.
posted by cmyr at 3:07 PM on March 16, 2009

I think some other people here don't realize that stimulants have the opposite effect on people with ADHD. Nicotine stimulates most people, but it's the opposite for people with ADHD. If I've got my science straight. :)

Nonetheless, I would highly recommend against taking nicotine. It is extremely addictive. Studies show that one dose can make you crave it for your whole life. I have a friend who smoked 1 pack of cigarettes over the course of 1 summer 9 years ago. He has not smoked since. To this day, when he gets nervous or bored, the first thing he thinks of doing is lighting up a cigarette. Find something less chemically addictive. Probably caffeine is a better solution, despite the side effects. Anything else will have worse side effects, if caffeine does that to you. IANAD
posted by brenton at 3:27 PM on March 16, 2009

hal_c_on, may I memail you about your suggestions.

I am in a luckier position, but jeez, I hate, and loathe the fact that I cannot do a damned thing at work unless I use Adderall.

Sorry to pile on, but it is like a possible bit of advice meant for someone else is tailor-made for me, well I want in!
posted by xetere at 3:37 PM on March 16, 2009

Adderall is a mixture of amphetamine salts and is available in a generic form. I have not looked up the price for the this medicine, but I think it is likely to be fairly inexpensive. If it was helping you when you had health insurance, why not look into the generic now? It will probably be safer and more effective than nicotine and you can obtain it under medical supervision which is probably not the case for this use of nicotine.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 4:35 PM on March 16, 2009

I've found that nicotine doesn't do much for ADHD. But pseudoephedrine does. It's not the safest thing in the world, but it's safer than nicotine.
posted by gjc at 5:09 PM on March 16, 2009

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