I am Prescribed Adderall for a Mental Health Diagnosis - How Should I Handle this in Sobriety?

As psychiatry continues to evolve as a medical science, we identify new mental health disorders and seek to treat them in order to improve everyone’s quality of life. During the early 90s, Adderall became the pharmacological solution of choice for attention deficit disorders, which were being diagnosed at a rapidly rising rate among teens and adolescents. For some, Adderall was their first taste of mind and mood altering substances, and for those who are now attempting sobriety a question arises: is my Adderall prescription a healthy part of my life in recovery, or should I seek alternatives to treat my attention deficit disorder?

First, there is no question that many Americans suffer from some form of attention deficit disorder, and benefit a great deal from pharmaceutical treatment for the condition. However, psychiatric diagnoses of these disorders, especially those which occurred in the early stages of our understanding of the disease, occasionally overstate the severity of the disorder present in the patient. Addicts especially present a problem when attempting to diagnose such a disorder, as the hallmarks of an addictive personality overlap with those of a person with ADD - a preference for instant gratification, a pattern of obsessive behavior followed by rapid loss of interest in an activity. In light of this potential for misdiagnosis, you should speak with your attending therapist and revisit the issue in order to determine whether or not you truly suffer from some sort of attention deficit disorder or if this was simply a misidentification of your substance abuse disorder.

If you and your doctor have determined that you do indeed suffer from some form of ADD, you should still inquire as to alternative treatment methods besides the standard prescriptions, as these are essentially amphetamines and lend themselves to abuse. Ironically, the habits of prayer, meditation, and mindfulness you are forming as part of your recovery program may prove beneficial in treating the symptoms of your attention deficit disorder as well. These practices quiet your mind and allow you to focus on the present, which is exactly what ADD prevents a person from doing. If you find you are still struggling with managing your symptoms, there are alternative medications which have proven effective at treating the symptoms of attention deficit disorder but are not in the amphetamine class of drug, and therefore possess a substantially smaller risk for abuse.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a debilitating diagnosis which can inhibit a person’s ability to function in their daily lives. While this serious disease affects thousands of Americans, for many addicts this diagnosis could potentially be the result of their addictive behaviors being mistakenly attributed to ADD. As such, when we begin our journey in recovery a person with an ADD diagnosis, especially when being treated with Adderall or another amphetamine, should revisit the issue with their doctor in order to determine a few things. First, whether or not the diagnosis still holds true and second, to determine a course of treatment which does not threaten your continued sobriety. Do not think that sobriety and treatment for ADD are mutually exclusive goals, as there are new classes of pharmaceuticals which have been developed to treat ADD outside of the traditional amphetamine class of drugs. So long as you remain committed to living a life of sobriety, and all your actions are centered around that goal, you can rest assured any other obstacle you encounter in recovery can be met and overcome!