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October 24, 2005 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had experience coming off of ADD/ADHD medications? How did you cope with the return of all the negative ADD/ADHD symptoms, and the nagging feeling that you were a better person on the meds?

I've been coming off of Adderall XR for the past month or so as I can no longer afford the medication under my current health insurance. Luckily my psychiatrist kept me well-stocked with a variety of dosages so I've been able to step down gradually. It's been painless, except for the past week. As I reach the lowest dosage and approach total elimnation the decrease has gotten particularly noticable. When trying to focus and when interacting with people I have the same impulsive all-over-the-place fidgety thinking that I did before I started taking the meds. Added to that is the realization that I'm a heckuva lot less obnoxious when on Adderall.

So, ADD/ADHD Metafilterites, anyone successfully take themselves off of meds? How did you do it? Any mental hacks, coping techniques, tips or tricks that you use to keep up the same level of effectiveness that you had on medication?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Have you ever been told that caffeine can sometimes? When my son was 7 he was diagnosed with ADD, and his doctor told us to give him Mountain Dew or Orange Crush if we ever were stuck someplace without meds. He even suggested that if we didn't want to give him meds at all, to start his day off with coffee.

He's a teenager now, and doesn't take medication for his ADD anymore (he tries to cope with it on his own), but whenever he starts feeling anxious or antsy, or has an exam coming up or something needs doing where he absolutely must stay in focus, he drinks a cappuccino or a latte, and he immediately calms down and can concentrate on things. The difference in his demeanor is very noticable, and caffiene seems to have the opposite effect on him than it has on others.
posted by iconomy at 10:30 AM on October 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

Adderall is just a stimulant - amphetamines.

The most easily available OTC stimulants are caffeine and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).

Seems like you should start developing a coffee/diet soda habit.
posted by jellicle at 10:57 AM on October 24, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, I will keep them in mind. I was hoping for a more behavioral solution, though. Chemical replacements for Adderall would be the last resort.
posted by Anonymous at 11:05 AM on October 24, 2005

Schroedinger: have you looked at the option of getting a prescription for a high dose, but then taking a low dose? That can often decrease your total annual copay substantially, and might allow you to stay on the meds enough to prevent the worst symptoms.
posted by alms at 11:22 AM on October 24, 2005

My guess is the high dose/low dose trick will not work with an XR formulation, since the way the pill (or capsule) is constructed is probably what makes it extended release.
posted by OmieWise at 12:03 PM on October 24, 2005

I have recently been able to get a generic version of adderall. that might be an option for you.
posted by lester at 12:28 PM on October 24, 2005

Generic amphetamines should work just as well for bargain prices. They aren't time release so you might have to do 5mg three times a day or whatever your doctor has you on. I'm surprised he didn't recommend it. There are formulation differences sure, but I can't imagine it being that different to where you would not be helped by it.
posted by geoff. at 12:32 PM on October 24, 2005

Since XR is only available as Adderallâ„¢ it is far more expensive than generic Amphet+Dextroamphetamine. Your insurance may cover more of it.

Though my insurance covers XR (well, $20 copay vs. $10), I switched back to non-XR pretty quickly. I far prefer the control I have by doing as alms suggested, usually splitting the normal two doses out to 4-5 times a day.
posted by SpookyFish at 12:40 PM on October 24, 2005

Response by poster: Unfortunately, my insurance doesn't cover any medications for pre-existing conditions, and specifies ADD/ADHD meds as one of those. I'll check out the base price of the generics, though.

Alms, Adderall XR comes in capsules and thus can't be broken apart, but I'll try that with the generics.

It would probably be a good idea to teach myself to get off the meds at some point, though.
posted by Anonymous at 12:54 PM on October 24, 2005

thus can't be broken apart

Erm yes they can. Just undo the capsule and the little balls? They're the time release goodness. Chewing them destroys the time release capability but you still may retain the XR effect by dividing the balls in half. A bitch to do, but it works!
posted by geoff. at 1:14 PM on October 24, 2005

I use a combination of things: take ground flax-seed to get Omega 3s, the amino acid L-Tyrosine, mega-doses of Diet Coke, and stay away from processed foods as much as possible. But it still doesn't match the effect of prescription ADHD meds. Sometimes I wish I was back on meds but the side-effects were terrible for me.

Behavior-wise, the best things are to either keep a planner or make lists (and keep checking that planner and/or lists). And hopefully your job offers a variety of tasks, because tedium and boredom is deadly to the ADHD mind. Good luck.
posted by Ber at 1:27 PM on October 24, 2005

Ditto Geoff. I routinely split an Adderall XR and sprinkle half the little pellets on applesauce or yogurt, recap the pill and take the other half later or the next day, etc. Don't chew the little pellets though, that ruins the timerelease aspect.

Generic Adderall is pretty cheap though. It's the instant release, not the extended release. You may want to check on that - you insurance may be willing to pay for a generic. Coffee works too - depending on how much Adderall you're used to.

But my one single ADHD lifehack, the one thing that has saved my work/family/social life is: buy a digital timer and commit to doing a task for 10 or 15 minutes. For instance, when you're ADHD cleaning the bathroom can seem like a monumental task. But 10 minutes is pretty doable. So just set your timer for 10 minutes and clean the bathroom for 10 minutes. Ditto: calling your mom (10 min.), folding laundry (10 min.), etc. It sounds ridiculously easy but it has worked wonders for me.
posted by peppermint22 at 1:43 PM on October 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

Very rigorous (aerobic) exercise, daily, is supposed to help (increased blood flow to brain).

(Don't start a new exercise program without consulting first with your doctor, blah blah blah)
posted by availablelight at 7:58 PM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: Yeah, having gone off adderall about a year ago and coffee about 2 months ago, I feel for ya...I have some bizarre heart condition that prevents me from taking any stimulants (although I did try strattera, the nonstimulant ADD med...BAD sexual side effects though...screw that). It's been particularly tough, since I just started law school, too. Anyways, I've basically been forced to resort to behavioural forms of control and I've found that the single biggest factor in keeping my symptoms in check has been getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep is the key. But if you can drink coffee, etc. it's the next best thing (apart from drugs)...if only caffeine didn't have that pesky diuretic effect.

Yeah, and that exercise comment's pretty valid, too.
posted by johnsmith415 at 8:21 PM on October 24, 2005

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