A NEED FOR SPEED: Adderall, Your Designer Drug To Assist You In This Fast-Paced 2010s World of Work and Woe

Posted on February 24, 2010

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Worship Before Your New God

(EDIT 03/07/10: Since I mention Ritalin later in the article due to its similarity to Adderall, I figured this study that found that it improves learning by increasing brain plasticity was relevant.)


If I only had a brain, a heart, some speed: If only I had fulfilled my need for Speed after my last update, then perhaps neilckr.com could be updated on a more regular basis.

I haven’t seen my psychiatrist in a month, and for two weeks I’ve been trying to live my life without the horrible grip of vice– the grip of amphetamine.

“Slow down Neil,” I can hear the detractors say, the paranoid shrew-like sheep of people. “Didn’t You Know Amphetamine Is Bad For You?”

Hold The Phone.

Did you just say that amphetamine, the drug that received thirty-six million prescriptions in a four year period and used extensively by military personnel and heads of state for decades well as contributing to the work of scores of artistic, literary, and scientific figures– is bad for you?

Stop The Press.

“Why Good Sir,” the ignorant drugged-out neo-Beatnik hippified pinko hippos will surely protest–“Where Are Your Facts?”

And then they’ll twirl a little mustache as they pull their cape to obscure their menacing faces.

“Since You Asked, Here Are The Facts”:

Here, A Picture So You Can Feel Smart: It's all scientific and shit.

The U.S. Military Endorses & Defends Amphetamine Usage In Its Ranks Wired: “The U.S. Military Needs Its Speed”

“Air Force Rushes To Defend Amphetamine Use”

AMPHETAMINE IS LESS ADDICTIVE THAN BOTH TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL – The two most widely used drugs in the world.

In 2000, Tobacco killed 435,000 people. Alcohol killed 85,000.

All prescription drugs combined killed 32,000; if we tack on the 17,000 killed by all illicit drug use, the drug war’s priorities are called into question based on the incongruities found.

The Lancet: “Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse”

Drug War Facts: “Annual Causes of Death”

Amphetamine Usage Among Adolescents Has Stayed Relatively Constant Since The “Speed Craze” Of The 1960s and 70s. Erowid Amphetamine Vault: Use Statistics *
Amphetamine was synthesized in an attempt to create a synthetic form of ephedrine, today common as an over-the-counter “herbal drug.” Kuhn, Cynthia et.al. Buzzed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.
AUSSIES LOVE AMPHETAMINE MORE THAN YOU DO: Australia is ranked #1 in terms of amphetamine usage statistics. The U.S. is ranked #6. Amphetamine Use Statistics: Countries Compared.

Random Note Of Interest: Both Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler, luminary figures in WWII lore and enemies to the end, loved amphetamines. Hitler was so dependent on them he reportedly “Couldn’t function without daily methylamphetamine injections into his buttocks by his physician, Doctor Morell. Also took cocaine eyedrops.”

It seems at first to be a random assortment of facts, sure, but upon close scrutiny, what can we draw from this?

1) Clearly, speed is hot, in lieu of health concerns.

Before “Crack Kills” hijacked the slogan, the hippie era often espoused an admonition that “Speed Kills,” based on what can happen in the worst circumstances, increasingly seen back then as it was during an all-time high of amphetamine consumption. One of my favorite writers, sci-fi novelist and visionary Philip K. Dick wrote most of his early work while under the influence of amphetamines and his use of the drug in the 60s was what led to permanent pancreatic damage in later years. Dick considered himself one of the lucky ones, as the memorial afterword in “A Scanner Darkly” showed us.
The authors of Buzzed write:

…amphetamines mimic the effects of the sympathetic nervous system: they initiate all the bodily responses of the fight-or-flight syndrome. They increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict (narrow) blood vessels, dilate the bronchioles (breathing tubes), increase blood sugar, and generally prepare the body for emergency. These effects on the lungs can actually improve the symptoms of asthma. Furthermore, fat is broken down to help mobilize energy, and this effect may contribute to the weight loss these drugs can cause. However, the effects on the heart can be so excessive that they may result in a disordered heartbeat or, eventually, failure of the cardiovascular system.

Most of the stimulants also increase body temperature, which presents a real problem when amphetamines are used in situations involving exercise. At the same time, amphetamines and cocaine seem to increase the capacity for muscular work. Whether this represents a real improvement in muscle function, a better delivery of sugar to fuel muscular work, or simply the perception of greater energy, these drugs have been popular with some endurance athletes, like cyclists, and with those attenting all-night rave dance parties to permit dancing all night. Extreme physical exertion increases body temperature even without the amphetamine; with amphetamine added, the increase in body temperature can become fatal.

Even so, roughly 13 million (and rising) Americans reportedly use amphetamines. As already mentioned, U.S. government and military personnel have been using amphetamines for various purposes for years, to the point where it has been described as a “life-and-death matter.”

2) In spite of this, amphetamine use is still heavily regulated and restricted.

The first half of the 20th century saw amphetamine used as everything from a congestion aid to a successful treatment for narcolepsy–the medical benefits prompting the military to use it (+ methamphetamine) for the first time during WWII, distributing it to vets (and to the Japanese, who can thank us for the addiction epidemic that followed), and then again in Korea. Then the 1960s came along and speed use skyrocketed. The U.S. government, being chronically allergic to any form of fun or recreation, acted swiftly and before you knew it, by 1970 it was made illegal to possess by anyone without a prescription. In ’96, the government passed the Methamphetamine Control Act which further criminalized illicit production, sale, and possession–as a Schedule II drug, possession can get you a five year maximum sentence.

Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force pilots, encouraged by their superiors, continue to take “go pills” on a daily basis.

3) In spite of this, people still do it. A lot.

I vaguely recall just mentioning that thirteen million Americans are on the shit, plus the government, plus the millions of Americans currently prescribed Adderall and other amphetamine derivatives. That’s a ton of fucking people, folks!

Which Brings Me To My Point:


Love it or loathe it, one thing is quite clear–speed is here to stay whether we like it or not. Understanding the mental, physical, and sociocultural impact that such an obviously potent substance leaves in its wake is the first step towards withering away the taboos associated with it and improving the living standards for the millions of people (on or off of it) who live in uncertainty and confusion because of the biased consensus surrounding it fueled by America’s drug war.

Adderall: What Is It, What Does It Do, Why Is It Used & Abused?:


The astute reader will take notice that the subtitle of this essay references Adderall, and yet so far all I’ve done is discuss “amphetamine.” If you’ve read this far, that means you probably have a fair idea about what Adderall is and know that it’s not quite amphetamine proper per se, and are wondering why it’s taken me so long to get that.

I like to assume that my readers are not dumbasses. If you read neilckr.com, you are not a dumbass. You are a genius. Pass that message on to your friends and family and see how many take the hint. If they disagree with you, don’t worry—not everyone can be as smart as you.

The reason I wanted to make the facts on amphetamine clear before jumping into Adderall proper is due to the general population being in the dark as to exactly how much of the stuff (some people** don’t even know amphetamines are prescribed) is in Adderall:

According to the folks at Erowid, 10 mg of Adderall amounts to 6.3 mg of pure amphetamine, out of a composition containing

Dextro-amphetamine Saccharate- 2.5 mg;
Dextro-amphetamine Sulfate(USP)- 2.5 mg;
Racemic-amphetamine Aspartate- 2.5 mg;
Racemic-amphetamine Sulfate- 2.5 mg.

I don’t have the time (nor do you have the attention span unless you’re, well… on Adderall) to go into depth about the differences between amphetamine and dextro-amphetamine, but lets just say that dextro-amphetamine (the main ingredient in Dexedrine) is what you take when you really want a good tweak.

Moving on.

So, what is Adderall? In the words of a user, “the only way to finish homework.” In the words of the Necronomicon Wikipedia:

Adderall is a brand-name psychostimulant medication composed of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which is thought to work by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.[1] Adderall is widely reported to increase alertness, libido, concentration and overall cognitive performance while decreasing user fatigue. It is available in two formulations: IR (Instant Release) and XR (eXtended Release). The immediate release formulation is indicated for use in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy,[2] while the XR formulation is only approved for use in ADHD.[1] In the United States, Adderall is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act due to having significant abuse and addiction potential.

Hit The Brakes.

Adderall is widely reported to increase alertness, libido, concentration and overall cognitive performance while decreasing user fatigue

That bombshell in a nutshell: Take Adderall—Feel amazing.

“Amazing,” says “Kerry,” 21 year old female student at Florida State University. “That’s how it feels the first time you take it. Like, when I was younger, I remember all that ‘Don’t Do Drugs’ and ‘Just Say No’ D.A.R.E. crap, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh okay, well I’ll just not do drugs and I’ll be okay, right?’ Then my brother gets a prescription for Ritalin, and even as a kid I remember thinking, ‘Wait, what’s the difference between this stuff and the stuff on the streets?’ and so in high school I remember I took Adderall, and I just felt amazing—like I could do anything, you know? That’s the only way I can think to describe it right now.”

A less enthusiastic counter to this is recalled in a recent conversation I had via instant message with “Max,” aged 22, who discusses his prior illicit usage of the drug. “Amphetamines make people schizophrenic,” he writes me. He regales a point in his life where he would snort cocaine, drive at high speeds whilst simultaneously high on Adderall (‘Addy’), caffeine, and cannabis. Drug User Soup. He says he’s been off drugs for awhile; he still drinks occasionally but for Max it seems that days of excess are far behind him. “It’s just nice,” I remember him saying to me, “to not have to wonder anymore what’s real and what’s not real.”

Key Word:    Amphetamine Psychosis

Freeze.


“Wait, you mean that stuff can make you go crazy?” asks “Stewart,” who has sometimes used prescription Adderall recreationally  in the past.

Ellinwood, King, and Lee state in “Chronic Amphetamine Use And Abuse”:

Two distinct clinical thought disorders may be encountered with amphetamine abuse. The term “amphetamine psychosis” should be reserved for the non-confusional paranoid psychosis induced by chronic repeated intoxication. It should not be used to describe the acute clinical picture dominated by delirium and confusion followed by acute administration of very large doses of central stimulants (32, 108). The picture of the chronic non-confusional state has many corresponding symptom profiles which parallel schizophrenia and may not be without a drug history or toxicology, easily distinguishable from the latter. Hallucinations are frequently described in chronic amphetamine abusers; the incidence is upwards of 81% (32) and 83% (108). Visual hallucinations are seen most frequently, with auditory hallucinations being slightly less common. Paranoid ideation, fears of persecution, hyperactivity and panic are accepted as prominent hallmarks of central stimulant psychosis (32, 60, 103, 108). Following stimulant withdrawal, these patients become gradually cognizant of the delusional quality of their psychoses. However, on re-administration of the drug, the sense of persecution and imminent danger readily returns, and the patient no longer recognizes these feelings as delusions. Often the paranoid phenomena are associated with police and are referred to as the “bull-horrors.” Eventually, they becomes accepted as a way of life with those dealing in illegal stimulants.

The incidence of psychosis resultant from amphetamines, while not as rare as it was once thought to be, is still very low. A 2007 study observed that in patients suffering from stimulant psychosis, the psychosis itself diminished within 7-10 days. Heavy users have been observed to sometimes require up to a year for a complete cessation of symptoms. Cases of permanent psychosis caused from stimulant abuse are nearly unheard of.

My own firsthand experience with Adderall started in fall of ’09—so very recently— and ended roughly a month and a half ago when I stopped taking the medication. I had been prescribed it by an osteopathic psychiatrist I had been seeing regularly at the time who had thought in spite of the fact that schizophrenics are hypersensitive to stimulants that given how severe my focus and attention problems had become, Adderall may be my best bet. I had never taken it or any other stimulant (save caffeine) before. All bets were off.

The first time I took it, a little 10 mg instant release capsule generically labelled “amphetamine salts”, was more than a little slice of heaven. It was a whole damn cake. A cake you could have and eat too—if only eating it actually stimulated one’s appetite.

I ate little for a good four and a half months. I didn’t care. When you take Adderall, you don’t care about little things like food or sleep when taking it presents you with a whole new gamut of possibilities and viewpoints and alternatives that under normal circumstances would be lost on you even on the most basic conceptual level.

In those four and a half months, I produced more art and literature than I usually do in any given year.

In those four and a half months, I lost 15-20 pounds on Adderall without changing my lifestyle too much (read: No change in exercise levels, just drugs and eating less).

In those four and a half months, I found myself under the grip of addiction—I could feel it grasp me shortly after the onset, yet I ignored it. The initial euphoria and entactogenic  connections I felt towards others were quick to fade. I could still focus well enough, but I wanted more—needed more if I was going to feel that good again. Feel good again.

So I tried to stop.

Stop.

When you’re on Adderall, that’s easier said than done. Even when taking it at the doses and intervals prescribed, most people who regularly use Adderall are advised to cease treatment gradually rather than stop cold turkey so as to lessen withdrawal effects. I was convinced I hadn’t done the drug enough to have any. So I tried to take one tablet a day rather than the usual two or three I had been taking. It wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel right anymore. Didn’t feel good like it used to. I felt weird mentally and physically; suddenly, the fatigue I’d been fighting off for months hit me without warning like a freight train. I felt confused. I often found myself unable to recall things that had happened mere hours prior. “This is it,” I thought, trembling, paranoid: “I’m just another amphetamine psychosis statistic!”

Fortunately, I was mistaken. The withdrawals dissipated within a week. Unfortunately, so did the focus I’d attained and maintained for four and a half months.

And Why Does That Make It The 2010s Drug Of Choice?:


How about some pictures, shall we? Those seem to be a hit with you young folks, what with your music television and your electro-games and your songs about thongs.

NSDUH Report on Adderall Use In 18-22 Year Olds

"Full-time college students aged 18 to 22 were twice as likely as their counterparts who were not full-time college students to have used Adderall® nonmedically in the past year (6.4 vs. 3.0 percent)"

"Full-time college students who were nonmedical users of Adderall® were almost 3 times as likely as those who had not used Adderall® nonmedically to have used marijuana in the past year (79.9 vs. 27.2 percent), 8 times more likely to have used cocaine in that period (28.9 vs. 3.6 percent), 8 times more likely to have been nonmedical users of prescription tranquilizers (24.5 vs. 3.0 percent), and 5 times more likely to have been nonmedical users of prescription pain relievers (44.9 vs. 8.7 percent)"

"Nearly 90.0 percent of full-time college students who used Adderall® nonmedically in the past year were past month binge alcohol users, and more than half were heavy alcohol users"***

The images and text at the right were ripped straight from a 2009 National Survey On Drug Use And Health Report on explicitly non-medical use of Adderall among college students, something that media commentators, sociologists, academics, and parents have identified as a growing trend in the past ten years.

The results themselves invite their own analysis. A quick glance and comparison-contrast between the three figures presented tells me three things: a.) the load of coursework college students have as well as the fact that the vast majority of them are also in the workforce coupled with the availability of drugs on or near college campuses should provide good cause for as to why young men and women in college are more likely to seek out an “extra boost” than their non-collegiate peers; also, b.) stimulant users overall tend to seek out other stimulants over depressants, sedatives, etc. because that’s the kind of high they desire—hence why Adderall users are eight times as likely than non-users to use cocaine, but only twice as likely to use marijuana. As such, c.) the trend in Adderall abuse differs from popular drugs of past eras because of the motivation behind the choice to take them.

Perhaps in understanding this it’s best to visit the year 2002, a year pulled fresh from the Oh’s advent. It was in that year that Gallup did a three-part “Decades of Drug Use” series where they cross-analyzed their own poll data from over the years to determine rates of drug abuse across the nation and the years. In part one, they examined the 60’s and 70’s— two decades, the former especially, renowned for their allegedly rampant drug use. Some of the results are staggering in that it can be inferred that the drug prevention movement’s beginnings can be traced to campaigns of predictable fearmongering and misinformation. In ’69, only 4% of Gallup respondents said they had tried marijuana. In ’73, that number climbed to 12% and that twelve percent would double by the end of the decade.

In 2009, I had heard on the radio that 54% of respondents to a similar poll reported to smoke marijuana regularly.

Still think the D.A.R.E. program is working? I digress.

Part two took us through the 80’s and 90’s— here we see the shift in the anti-drug movement’s focus from marijuana, LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms to heroin and other opiates and ‘club drugs’ such as MDMA (Ecstasy). The article makes mention of methamphetamine, but doesn’t go into detail about statistics. Call this meaningless conjecture if you will, but what interests me about that is that while the article mentions meth, mentions that it is “relatively new” with teens, not a single mention is made toward the increase in illicit methylphenidate (a.k.a. Ritalin) usage which has been on the rise since the late nineties. Could it be that Ritalin (used as a substitute for meth when treating addicts due to their extremely similar chemical structure), pounded and peddled at our children since the 80’s, because it’s legal, was given a free pass by the analysts at Gallup? Could our ignorance toward the dangers of abuse of prescription drugs, based on our assumption that prescription drugs are legal therefore good for us, possibly have led to this oversight of an escalating trend of use and abuse? Could the same be said of Adderall?

The 60’s and 70’s had weed, speed, shrooms and acid.

The 80’s was the era of coke and crack.

The 90’s saw the rise of X, meth, and smack.

The 2000’s proved a time of uncertainty, of noted drug activity amid a noted decline in consumption; the barrier of availability became blurred as prescription laws changed and pushers changed their methods as did the police and the politicians. But the facts are here now, the wait is over.

Hello 2010s, your medication of choice will be available as soon as it reveals itself as an icon of popular culture; on television, in movies, on t-shirts. Until that happens, this has all just been mere speculation.

Oh Wait.

Concluding Notes/Things You Should Know Before Taking Speed

In a nutshell, what should you know about Adderall, about Speed in general, should you decide for whatever reason you might need it?

  • You’ll feel stimulated, alert, more functional, and less tired. You also might experience hypertension, urinary retention, irregular heartbeat, and/or decreased appetite, so if you already have a condition that the side effects may worsen, use with caution.
  • Withdrawals can range from “mildly irritating” to “a real bitch” and it doesn’t take too long into an Addy habit to risk developing them. If you’re on Adderall long enough, you will experience some form of withdrawal upon quitting. Be prepared with a plan as to how to properly disengage from use.
  • To reiterate a footnote from earlier: If you’re caught with the drug and you do not have a prescription, you risk going to prison for up to five years.
  • Consult your physician before use if you’re on any other medication. Better yet, consult your physician before use period.
  • Lads: Adderall May Will Make Your Pee Pee (Temporarily) Shrink. Here’s How To Combat That.
  • Don’t take Adderall for its euphoric effects and expect them to last. The reason you feel that way is because your brain has kicked into overdrive to work at a capacity that it normally cannot. Those effects fade after a few uses and are then usually gone forever. My own personal advice: take it for its stimulant effects; there are other, safer, more efficient and longer-lasting ways to obtain euphoric highs out there.
  • Know Your Body
  • While overdoses are not usually fatal, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 if you or a friend appears to be losing consciousness or experience difficulty breathing. You should already know to do this.
  • TIP: When I take Adderall, I have a tendency to grind my teeth; I’ve heard this problem reported from many other people firsthand as well. A good, simple solution to this is chewing gum!

……………………………………………………………………

*Does not include prescription amphetamine use, as is common in drug use reports.
**Actually, there's already a name for those kind of people. They're called "Tea Partiers."
*** In other words, they were found to be part of the phenomena known as "being a college student."
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