“I Was Addicted to Meth When I Was Diagnosed With ADHD”

ADHD and meth


A woman I’d met at a conference wrote to me: “I was addicted to meth for 5 years until I was diagnosed with ADHD.”

Katherine did not set out to abuse a street drug. Like many others with unrecognized or poorly managed ADHD and other psychiatric conditions, she faced a “Perfect Storm” of circumstances—and made a “really bad choice.”

She continues with her story, below. First, consider research: MIND Institute researchers study ADHD and methamphetamine addiction. MIND Institute research Catherine Fassbender explains:

“Methamphetamine abusers with ADHD often say that abusing methamphetamine helps calm them down and helps them to maintain focus.

This may be a reinforcing factor in their continuing to abuse meth. Of course, there is a very big difference between taking prescription medication and substance abuse.”

Let’s continue with Katherine’s real-life experience.

“I Was a Mess of a Drug Addict”

First off, I had already been a fan of yours for a few years and after reading your first blog post about DNA and ADHD meds, I’m an even bigger fan.

I’m not sure if you remember me but I met you at the CHADD convention in DC in 2013.

I was the mess of a drug addict who walked in 45 minutes late, in tears, and I was desperate for help. You were one of the people who helped me that day, and I’m grateful for you taking the time to speak to me.

I was addicted to meth for 5 years until 2009, when I was diagnosed with ADHD and my psychiatrist put me on Vyvanse. I easily stayed sober for 4.5 years and built a successful career in real estate. At some point before I relapsed, the Vyvanse stopped working. I had no idea until it was too late.

My guess is it lost its effectiveness during the last half of 2012.

I wasn’t able to focus at work. My relationships were more messed up than before. My apartment was a wreck. And my whole world felt like a bottomless pit. March 2013 I was hanging out with someone I shouldn’t have. Meth was in front of me and I made a really bad choice when I did it.

It was a perfect storm for me to relapse, and I stayed addicted until I finally went to rehab on Nov 15th, 2014 until Jan 12th.

My psychologist there told me that my case opened her eyes to the huge impact ADHD has on addiction and she encouraged me to use my experience to help others. She wants to collaborate with me on a plan to do so.

“Each Week I Make More and More Progress”

I’m still working on getting my career back to the level it was before my relapse. Each week I make more and more progress. I’ve even gotten to the point where I’ve shared my truth with a few people who I thought I’d never be able to tell due to our business relationship. The response I’ve gotten from all of them has been supportive and understanding.

It’s so sad to me that there is such a huge disconnect between addiction treatment and mental health, specifically ADHD.  It’s even more disheartening that people are living their whole lives in misery not knowing it really can be better.

I plan to attend the CHADD convention in New Orleans in November and I’m curious, will you be there?

—Katherine (posted with permission)

Dear Katherine,

Of course, I remember you and am so pleased to know that I was helpful—and that you continue to make progress.

Yes, I will be speaking at the CHADD conference in New Orleans. On Saturday at 10:30 am.  I hope to see you there!



58 thoughts on ““I Was Addicted to Meth When I Was Diagnosed With ADHD””

  1. I am living this story now.

    I am a functioning (barely) addict. I am pretty sure I have suffered from ADHD my whole life. I was never diagnosed, but just always labeled as the “hyper” little girl that talked really loud and fast and had trouble sitting still in school.

    It wasn’t until motherhood though that the ADHD started to really overwhelm me. I started having overwhelm managing all of my families schedules. This overwhelm led me to go out for girl time more. Getting cocktails with girlfriends a little more often. That’s when I took meth one night.

    I had tried meth in my early 20’s recreationally and liked the focus, but didn’t like how guilty, ashamed and embarrassed I felt after, so I only tried it a couple of times. However about 5 years ago during a girlfriends night out I had a few drinks and then I made a bad, intoxicated choice to do some meth .

    It was only a matter of time before it slowly but surely creeped into my life. Now I find myself in a predicament that I never in a million years thought I would be in. None of my friends or family know, or had know until a couple of months ago when my husband found out. He’s the only one who knows. He was very understanding (to a point), and wanted to helped me quit. I quit for almost a month, but then I slipped up because I couldn’t handle how foggy I was feeling. I wanted to tell him I messed up, but before I could he said, “ I thought for a minute that you got more meth and that would have been awful to have to go through those three weeks detoxing again!” )-: I couldn’t bare to tell him. I know he probably does not want to deal with me being down and out for three weeks again. It would be too disappointing . He doesn’t understand how this is.

    If he did he could have said, “ Hey, don’t get discouraged, if you slipped you’ll just get back up and keep going! I know this isn’t easy, and you aren’t a failure, you can’t do this!” Or maybe if when my Mom, Dad, one of my friends, or better yet, someone from church asks, “ how are you doing?” I wouldn’t have to say, “hanging in there, pretty tired and busy lately”. What if people could handle the truth and didn’t judge you for it, but genuinely wanted to help you. Maybe then when asked how I’m doing I could could say, “I’m not doing great. I’m really lonely and scared. I’m embarrassed and ashamed, I made some bad choices. I think I may be trying to self medicate for undiagnosed adhd, and I got myself into a situation that I need help getting out of. Can you please help me because I don’t want to be doing this anymore and I would like to get some help. Will you support me and not judge me? “

    It’s killing me to live this lie. I don’t want medical records marking me an addict. I don’t want people looking at me different. It was hard enough being the “hyper” girl growing up.” I can’t even imagine the things I would be called.

    So, about s month ago I ended up making a therapist appointment to get properly diagnosed with adhd. I didn’t mention my meth use, and I did get diagnosed with ADHD. I was given 10mg of Vyvanse, but told before I will be prescribed another bottle I will need to get bloodwork done. I haven’t started it yet, but my plan was to quit again this coming week and then start taking my pill sometime after that. When searching for info on Vyvanse and meth, trying to figure out what to do, I came across your article.

    I have your ADHD book. So I took this as a sign that I should write to you for your opinion.

    My question to you is, “How soon after the last time I use meth, can I start taking Vyvanse?

    I am really anxious about stopping meth and going through empty headed, depressed, brain fog days again. I’m wondering if the Vyvanse may ease the transition and then at least get me on a legal drug that I have a prescription for. On the other hand I don’t want to start it, if there are bad effects from overlapping. What are your thoughts on this?

    Any advice you have to offer would be appreciated more than you can imagine. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Reading everyone’s messages helped me to feel less alone. Thanks in advance! ❤️

    1. Dear Ann,

      First I want to head off public criticisms at the pass by saying…. I am not a medical professional. I cannot give medical advice. Etc. Etc.

      But you asked for help and so I will give it my best shot. Because what are the alternatives?

      Kudos on taking the first step toward getting the help you deserve. That shows a lot of determination and guts.

      IF IT WERE ME ….. here’s what I would do:

      1. Get my ducks in a row.

      That is, make a plan. Write it down. Don’t depend on your memory or self-perceptions.

      It seems that without the meth, you can function “okay.” You were off it for a month. While it was hard, and you were feeling fuzzy, you can probably manage for a week or so.

      So, get out your calendar, mark the date when you will stop the meth and when you will start the Vyvanse.

      I’m not sure there has to be a huge amount of time. No one can say. A week seems reasonable.

      2. Beginning now, start giving my body (including your brain) all it needs to create new neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine, etc.) and support their transmission. That might mean:

    2. A good multi-vitamin/mineral
    3. Eating sufficient (not too much) healthy proteins — and a variety of them (the proteins in amino acids supply the critical building blocks for neurotransmitters, we need a variety because we can’t get all the amino acids from one type of protein).
    4. For example… rotating meals with fish, beef, beans and legumes (lentils, etc.), cheese, etc….. If you are vegetarian, you’ll need to take specific steps to be sure you’re getting all the amino acids
      some other way; I don’t know how.
    5. Getting sufficient sleep. If you have a “sleep debt,” start paying it.
    6. If you’re consuming caffeine, cut way back on that or quit altogether if you can.
    7. All this will increase chances of a positive response to the Vyvanse.

      3. Read my book’s chapters on medication. You’ll see that most people with ADHD respond to one class of stimulant better than the other.

      Vyvanse is an amphetamine. The other class is methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, etc.).

      You might luck out and have a good response to Vyvanse. It might even be that 10mg is enough to register a response.

      But, after giving it a few days and not noticing a response, you’ll want to ask your prescriber about, for example, taking two pills (20 mg).

      4. Talk to your husband. Tell him what you’ll need his help during this “transition.” Tell him exactly what kind of help. My book also explains why teamwork is often the best approach to treatment.

      Any medication that can have a positive effect can also have a negative effect. Trouble is, we might not notice it ourselves. We’ll need someone else to help us.

      It’s a little tricky, telling your husband what to watch for. You don’t want to “lead the witness.” 🙂

      Maybe increased irritability or anger. But on the positive side, more stable mood or focus. That kind of thing.

      I hope this helps! Best of luck to you!!


  2. I was using t for a year to treat my undiagnosed ADHD. I finally got diagnosed and was but on vyvanse for a month, then switched to ritalin and found I was able to quit for a month and a half free from it. Until I had a personal tragedy and in August which is when I had to pick it up to comfort me. It relaxes me so much and just chills me out in the way stoners will smoke joints to chill. I know I need to get off of it again but reading all of this that I’m not alone in the way self medicating with it is powerful.

    1. Hi Alice,

      Ritalin is not typically thought a substance of abuse. Of course, anything can be abused. But typically, it’s not. Too high dose of Ritalin might result in “zombie” whereas too-high dose of Adderall might result in rage and what looks like mania.

      Are you receiving other benefit, other than “chilling”?

      That is, do you have more initiation and motivation, clearer thoughts, etc.?

      It might be that you’re taking too high a dose, specifically for the “zombie” effect. If you try a lower dose and see that it improves what in fact might be ADHD symptoms, that is important information.

      It also might mean that Ritalin will help you live a healthier, happier life — in the sense of treating ADHD, not “abusing substances.”

      good luck

  3. I had no idea there were so many other stories like mine. I’m in tears, like many other comments here that I’ve read.
    I’m 32, and while I’ve done extensive research on my own I’ve never been formally assessed for ADHD. When I was younger, before I had any idea that my symptoms were anything more than just deficiencies in my character, I stumbled into methamphetamine use. For the first time in my life, I was able to focus and finish a task in one sitting from beginning to end. My house was clean and in order and it didn’t take me a week, or overwhelm me. I was able to finally focus for the entirety of an 8-hour shift at work. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt what I imagined normal might be like.
    It’s been 10 years. I have successfully quit using methamphetamine for a period of a year two separate times. It wasn’t difficult to do, until I got to a place where I needed to go back to work and function like a normal person. I don’t know what to do. I don’t like what I have to go through to get methamphetamine illicitly. I don’t like associating with the people that come with it, I’m not involved in the lifestyle or social use, and I absolutely hate risking my freedom just to be able to function. But I’m so scared of being turned down if I ask a doctor for help, because I’ve already experienced so much discrimination over being prescribed controlled substances (I was prescribed Xanax for my anxiety for two years, and after I moved no doctor would refill my prescription and I had to suffer withdrawal unsupported).
    I’m so scared of being denied medication that might actually help me but I can’t even ask for it. I don’t know what language to use or how to broach the subject to a doctor in a way that I’ll actually get me listened to and I’m at my wit’s end. I want to be direct and entirely honest but I feel that will only impede my access to the medication I need permanently, and I don’t know what to do.

    1. HI Savannah,

      I’m glad you found this post — and my blog.

      You might also find this post interesting: Did Mrs. Murphy Abuse Benzedrine — or Did She Have ADHD

      I completely understand your dilemma. But I believe there are ways to minimize your fear so you can follow through on what you need — and stop feeling forced to take those risks with your health and safety.

      It’s true that prudent physicians won’t want to prescribe to an active “meth user” (the prevailing term). They at least will want to know that you’ve stopped for a certain period of time.

      From what you write, that seems unlikely.

      First, is there a trusted friend or family member who could help you tackle this task? That might be so helpful. This person can help you remember to focus on task by task — not view this as one overwhelming mission. Break it out. Including with some suggestions below.

      Two, some thoughts — not medical advice:

      — Have you ever tried prescription stimulants (e.g. Adderall, Ritalin, etc.), even if purchased without a prescription?

      If a stimulant works almost as well as meth for you, perhaps you could try switching to that for a while.

      At least then, when you visit a doctor, you will have been taking a legitimate treatment for ADHD — even if that’s not the one you want to continue taking.

      Start getting your “ducks in a row.” Savvy physicians get suspicious when a new patient comes in asking for Adderall, in particular, or listing a typical range of ADHD challenges. That sound canned.

      You’re more likely to earn some trust if you show that you’ve taken a thoughtful approach to learning about ADHD — and how you might have it.

      That would mean making a list of official ADHD symptoms and noting which ones speak to you. Then write down several examples over your life, from childhood through adulthood.

      Written documents such as that show that thought went into pursuing an evaluation. Physicians can also use these examples to ask more.

      The official criteria are listed in the back of my first book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?

      I hope this helps. Wishing you the best in getting the yelp you deserve.

  4. Elizabeth A Baker

    I can’t stop crying after just finishing reading this blog and ALL(so very many) the comments from others just like me. I was just released from a behavioral health hospital where the onsite doctor would not give me all of my daily prescribed meds because I am a meth addict. My prescribing doctor is very aware of what I am but can only prescribe me what my insurance will pay for. They pay for a 30 day supply 60mg Adderall. And I have to supplement with meth to function. (I too, am married to a non- user, have a good job and mostly productive life). But this doctor, decided that I must have been pulling one over on the system, so he intervened on a successful presribed drug plan and deprived me of a necessary medication for 5 days. I was a complete wreck. I had admitted myself to the hospital because I was having a depressive episode and felt I needed the comfort of safety. In turn, this doctor held me for five days because of “instability due to the withdrawal from crystal meth.” I cried practically 24/7, did not eat, bathe, only drank the water they gave me with my meds and begged them to discharge me as I was a voluntary admission. In 5 days I only had one staff member come in and ask me what was wrong. I was told to quit crying because I was only making things worse.
    I am really really pissed off now. And it feels great to know that I have validation behind me now. You, and all of my newfound family, have given me the strength which I had thought lost forever. Thank you. God is so good.

    1. Dear Elizabeth,

      I’m so sorry you had to endure that.

      I wonder if your prescribing doctor isn’t doing you any favors with the Adderall. 60 mg is a very high dose. Maybe the dosage was upped because you could get just one pill per day? If so, that is not a good strategy.

      Unless you have tried other stimulants and know that Adderall is the only thing that works for you, I would talk to your prescriber about trying maybe Vyvanse, if you know you do better on the amphetamine class of stimulants, or Concerta, if you’ve tried nothing but Adderall.

      It could be that the high dose of Adderall is increasing the feeling of need for the meth.

      You can read the medication chapters in my first book to know how prescribing should go for ADHD — but rarely does.


      Also, did you know that a pharmaceutical methampheamine used to be more commonly available for ADHD? It’s called Desoxyn.


      Best of luck to you.


  5. Thanks for the article. I’ve been in this world since 2017 and I might sound different from others, cause like I thought in the beggining, I use it when I really need to focus on very important work tasks that need to be done asap, but my brain doesn’t find them attractive. I just do them to push, and when it wear off, I go slowly with my day with the rest of the tasks. And in case of really big anxiety, when I have so much work that my brain creates the infamous ‘ADHD paralysis’ that I get overwhelmed with tasks, and just do nothing- then meth helps go out of the paralysis, and pushes me forward. One of the bigger and bizzare moments was when I had a self realisation about me instead my usual focus, my sense of purpose in life, and what could lots of things mean- that day I woke up happy first time in long.

    Then I thought that it will go away next day in the morning, cause I’ve thought it was euphoria, but it wasn’t- one thing was that I couldn’t sleep that night, cause of level of being woke up. I was still in check and still am. Tried even it without crazy tasks- before a party or doing normal daily routine- nope, too much focus for me in social gatherings instead of fully experiencing stuff was not for me. Can do my chore, go to the gym, prepare my meals, and sleep properly without it- which I’m happy about, cause I really was afraid that it will get me hard.

    BUT I still think it’s shit. And it’s double bullshit in life that I need drugs or ‘safer version’ of them as in meds that will eventually destroy my health, to work properly, and it probably wont stop making me mad AF. Cause I really need to switch to meds sooner or later. It’s just not fair that I need to live this way.

    1. Hi Magdalena,

      I hear you. It’s seriously not fair — and a giant PITA.

      The thing is, in the larger scheme of things, many of us have “something” we must deal with, physically or mentally.

      The fortunate thing with ADHD is, we have well-studied medications. And, if done properly (which requires self-education and self-advocacy), they do not destroy our health. In fact, they enhance our health.

      Research is coming out, showing what to many of us who knows ADHd, as obvious: People with untreated ADHD are more vulnerable to COVID. People diagnosed and taking medication are not.

      There are huge risks to untreated ADHD, in health and in adverse life outcomes.


      So, at least there’s a remedy here. Not so with many other conditions.

      take care,

    2. Hi Magdalena, I’m Amy. I posted a comment a long time ago, and when I posted I was in another mode of crisis, a very real moment and part of this struggle. but today I’m just replying to you to tell you that I relate to what you said more than anyone I’ve come across in a long time. 2017 is a long time actually, and yeah you’re right it is shit. Literally, right?? I know that based on family history, my school records, who I am when I’m not using, the tears ive cried over all the years i wasted wondering what was wrong with me, interrupting, messy house, lost keys, impulsiveness, sound sensitivity, falling grades as an honor student, and the fact that it’s the only substance I’ve ever used, that there is definitely an ADHD issue with me.

      The problem with meth is, other than obvious reasons, the stigma that surrounds drugs especially meth. People have no idea that there are others among them who use. people like me. Like you maybe…. That’s another reason why I’m still using. I can get away with it, it’s easy, and ya there is that addiction factor lol. Sure I avoid all the extras that come with the drug I don’t socialize with other users, I don’t hang out in front of the mirror with tweezers, I don’t engage in risky behaviors to get the drug, but I’m also avoiding good things too. Like advancing my life into a better career, or having a social life at all. I avoided Gina when she replied to me, even though it meant SO MUCH! (Im sorry Gina, thank you for this blog.) So ya i my house,my car, my kid, family who trusts me, but that’s all just an exterior image of what I think people approve of, so i dont feel like a conplete failure at life. But i still feel a void thats eating away at my time to experience life with authenticity.

      I just want to be accepted, I don’t want to use, but I spend everyday on the same road and so I’m writing to tell you that I’m sorry. From another person that understands the core of this shit we live in. The unfulfillment. and loneliness. If you don’t relate, oops! I’ll still be an awesome support- but I kind of get the feeling you know what i mean. Nice to meet you, Magdalene.

  6. Charmaine Booth

    Hi there,wow this is all me. Every story i relate to…Its like ive written all of them myself.

    As a child I have been diagnosed with ADHD. I was prescribed Ritalin and was taken off at a very young age as my dad thought I did not need it anymore not knowing that add HD is a lifetime illness.

    I have been 2/9 psychiatrists and therapists and no one could help me my life was a complete mess since I was a child I was a problem child to everyone I have been growing up with this and when I got married I still I still suffer the consequences I couldn’t go wake up I didn’t wanna get out of bed.

    I couldn’t even try and think of getting things done. I had anger issues I was diagnosed with many many mental disorders but we never knew what it was they was wrong with me. I wish I used cocaine since I was 18 for about 8 years and in the beginning it helped it made me feel on top of the world and made me fit in and it made me focus a little more but then after while it didn’t do that to me anymore. Instead I got shakes I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t talk and I was trapped in my own body so the day I quit cocaine since then I have never touched it again.

    Then me and my husband where due to circumstances living in our car and we were scared so we wanted something to keep us awake because I don’t didn’t want to sleep and I also didn’t want him to sleep because I needed someone to take care of me so we started using meth. The first time I use me I couldn’t believe the difference suddenly I could go I could focus everything was easier life was easier and it was the answer to everything today.

    I do not want to stop because nothing could make me feel this normal. Nothing could ever make me feel this normal. I get out of bed every morning. My house is not a mess anymore but I don’t have my children.

    I don’t know how to explain this to normal people because they won’t understand this. Makes me actually laugh as made me a better wife, meth made me a better mum, made me a better human and if my parents saw me now they would probably think I’m clean.

    My house is not a mess anymore. I want to go to work. I want to wake up in the mornings and want to live. How do I stop something that makes me a better person? How do I stop something that is the answer to everything that we we looking for since I was a child?

    All my behaviours…. everything in one night shell solved …..no therapist no psychiatrist no hypnosis nothing cure me…yet meth did it all.

    Today I’m a mother of three whose children has been taken away from her because she tested positive for meth but here today I can honestly say if it wasn’t for meth I would have had a reason for my children to be taken away.

    But no one knows that this makes me better and how do I explain that to the court, to my parents, to anyone I will leave it give my children back if I’m off meth because no medication can make me feel this normal and being of meth made me a worst mother then I could be today because I’m more normal on meth then I am normal when I’m sober. Is there medication available strong enough to substitute meth for me?

    1. Dear Chairmaine,

      I’m glad you found my blog post. You’re among people who get it.

      It’s absolutely crazy, isn’t it.

      You ask, “Is there medication available strong enough to substitute meth for me?”

      I can’t answer that. It might be that one of the stimulant choices would work for you — but perhaps not as high-powered as the meth.

      It might be that you can develop more organizational and balanced-life habits to support functioning….once on medication.

      If you are in a larger city, maybe you can find a psychiatrist smart enough to understand this — and who can figure out how to help you.

      You deserve help.

      take care,

    2. Im really glad I’m stumbled upon this thread. I touched crystal for the first time around 7 years ago Ive been looking for these kinds of people since then. Are there any forums or groups for people who have given up on the system and are just learning the loopholes and street smarts to treat their mental issues themselves?

    3. Hi Bob,

      I bet this is a larger “club” than most people realize.

      Sorry but I don’t know of any such forums or groups. I do encourage evidence-based treatment, including medications. Given the state of prescribing, though, and physician ignorance about addictions, I understand it’s very hard to find.

      Best to you,

  7. cain't trick me

    Akron Ohio,
    30yo Female,
    Caucasian af,
    Childhood ADHD Diagnosis,
    ODD before ODD was a thing.
    Brother & Father have ADHD diagnosis.

    From 2011-present (2021) I have been seeking treatment and had some not so great times that I think are related to the medications prescribed for the diagnoses I’ve been given in conjunction with my untreated ADHD.
    As an adult the diagnosis I’ve been given are:
    Schizo Affective (the one time I didn’t say anything about the psychiatrist I saw once who misdiagnosed me as bipolar),
    Bipolar & Anxiety,
    “Nothings wrong with you”,
    Trauma & SUD.
    Yep. 17 psychiatrists. 5 from hospital psych units.
    I gave the last 4 the contact info & documents from childhood psychiatrist that I ran into on accident 7 years ago at a grocery store who graciously let me stutter my way through a hasty explanation and panicked request that he please help me get back on meds,
    as well as a Neuropsychiatric Evaluation completed 6 years ago by certified and masters holding doctors that I paid out of pocket for since I Can’t. Get. A. Referral. even though I have been informed multiple times that Medicaid requires that one be completed in order to confirm diagnosis.

    I’ve been a (strictly) intravenous meth addict for 3 years, 15-20mg 2x daily purified for high Levo low Dex. My first drug was Marijuana, Alcohol at 21yo, I’ve used Ketamine (5mg 1x/mo 2yrs), LSD does nothing to me, and I’ve not experimented with anything else. Meth is it. Not even Cocaine. 😐
    I’ll be completing probation while still using in 3 months time,
    I still can’t get meds. Modafinil, Atomoxetine, Guanfacine, Clonidine, or fkn Bupropion, no chance for Methylphenidate.
    On my journey to obtain adequate pharmatherapeutical treatment and Cognitive Behavioral therapy, I’ve managed to get 8 people into treatment and all 3 people who had ADHD are getting ADHD meds, and CBT plus community supportive services, But not me!
    I’m concerned that the biggest factor that has prevented me from getting the help I’m screaming-while-spinning-a-sign for is that I’m telling them that I have ADHD, I’m functional enough to get a job, and maintain a successful relationship, so I must be looking for drugs? So now I’m an on/off addict, because I couldn’t financially keep up with paying out-of-pocket for Modafinil about 3.5 years ago. I’d been using Modafinil since 2013. Shit.

    How guilty should I feel about suing the providers who have misdiagnosed me & refused to prescribe adhd meds despite having been given the contact info and documentation of diagnosis?

    I feel guilty, really. I do.

    I quit using meth this past November for about a month and everyone noticed. I quit again from mid Jan until last week, mid March.
    I don’t have withdrawals. I struggle with my ADHD on & off meth, but that’s probably because I use so little. At least with the Levo heavy blend, I can focus better for about 4 hours.
    I sleep almost every night, I can’t sleep when I’m having anxiety/panic attacks and I can’t shoot while my hands are shaking and I’m hyperventilating.

    I’ve rambled enough, please forgive me for any incoherent portions, I’m sober.

    I can be contacted @ 828,4-84,2-029 for any Clinical Research Studies or any Assistance that anyone can offer with/towards my diagnosis,
    As well as my providing resources to Any people in the Akron OH area who are looking for treatment, services, or contact info for social services or disability person who WILL listen to them since I have better luck getting everyone but myself the help they need.

    Lmao, wtf is life?

    1. Dear Can’t Trick Me.


      You didn’t ramble at all. You make all-too-familiar sense. And for that and the rest, you have my sincere sympathies.

      I wish I knew of resources for you.

      I’ve also seen a huge physician bias toward previous diagnoses. I even questioned one psychiatrist giving a presentation at an ADHD conference: “Why did you leave that patient on the bipolar medication if the patient had ADHD and no discernible history of bipolar?”

      His answer: “oh, you never want to destabilize a patient by taking the patient off a medication.”

      What? I mean, I see the point generally. But….

      re: medication cost. You know there are financial assistance programs, right? Depends on the medication, of course, and they often require that the physician complete the paper work….

      You can also look for discounts at GoodRx.com. Here is the page for modafinil: https://www.goodrx.com/modafinil

      One thing that helps distinguish a “drug seeker” from a “legitimate patient” (never mind that most “drug seekers” are operating with underlying psychiatric conditions)…..is to present a cogent, concise, bullet-pointed two-page report of salient information. With ADHD symptoms in mind.

      Examples from childhood, from teen years, from young adult, etc.. A listing of jobs lost or jobs beneath your skill level, etc. In short, documentation that shows considered thought.

      Also, can your partner go with you? To provide third-party corroboration of your challenges?

      You ask how guilty should you feel about suing providers? I’d say not guilty at all. But if this goes into some centralized medicine database, it might come back to haunt you.

      Have you tried asking the professionals treating your friends for their advice? That is, not putting them on the spot to treat you. But sincerely explaining your problem and wondering if the person has any advice.

      I wish you all the luck and will be rooting for you. You DESERVE proper help.


  8. Hi is there anyway I can reach Katherine? I have for most of my life thought that ADHD wasn’t real until more recently after doing some research/reading up. Desperately need some advice after reading the experience above. There are extremely harsh laws on illicit substance abuse (rehabilitation is a myth) in where I am; a very developed South East Asian island state. Pls help..

    1. Dear Peter,

      Maybe Katherine will read and respond. If not, I can try contacting her.

      But I’m wondering if she could help you more than someone in your country who is familiar with ADHD and substance abuses. Even in countries where ADHD seems unknown, there might be one dedicated researcher or clinician. It’s probably a long shot but maybe worth it.

      I remember that a Polytechnic University in Singapore was one of the first libraries to stock my first book when it came out, back in 2008.

      If you could at lest find your way to getting legitimate ADHD treatment, you could lessen your risk of trouble.

      We’re on your side.

      Take care,

  9. I grew up honestly not understanding what most tried to explain.

    In school, I aided my keen sense of humor to distract the entire class so that my lack of focus was a problem I created for myself rather than the conclusion I had so early in life concluded. I thought I was stupid.

    With no ability to learn. While my peers got what was being taught I pondered away thinking up things my mind would create. My mind is great. Especially when finishing the creation which isn’t likely to happen.

    I started using meth when I was 19. While others around me were losing their ability to properly think with the chemicals and lack of sleep, I was injecting daily, sleeping nightly and learning how incredibly intelligent I truly am.

    I didn’t care to he tested I became an addict to the functioning brain I finally had. I knew I had ADHD and I saw no sobriety in my future so wasn’t an issue. I became a menace to society, no longer a functioning addict. In my blunt words… The meth was good I did a lot and that was all my life was. When to get high how to get more. Nothing else mattered.

    But intelligence eventually pushed me to sober up. I was clean for five years in which time I got a medical diagnosis and with the lack of insurance I had Adderall was all I could afford. I abused it because it wasn’t enough, of course I felt the need to lie when asked if I had a history of drug abuse and so eventually because I felt what it was like again for my brain to work I found some meth and lived as a above average functioning store manager of the most stressful business known. Burger King.

    Life got me on a different path and I cleaned up again. My inability to connect the begging and the end of my racing thoughts is the worst of them all. Knowing that I could be missing out on some very new knowledge happening in my own brain drives me crazy.

    I do not wish to be a meth addict. I am glad I experienced it because now when I’m sober it’s easier to understand. I don’t speak a lot because I’ve learned most don’t have the patients for me to get to the end. And if they do, I usually forget anyway.

    I speak directly from my mind not thinking the words but instead hearing the words coming out. I do not necessarily feel like ADHD for me is something I wish I didn’t have. I wish I was tested early enough in life that I could have been successful in school leading to great success as an adult. But I don’t hold onto what is lost .. I am planning on going to a rehab facility soon.

    And if they are unwilling to prescribe Vyvanse or something to help me I will inform them I won’t be staying because I know how to self Medicate and be intelligent to excel and anything I want.

    But the majority of the meth users, they are not exactly smarter with their use. For me it instantly calms my entire body to a relaxation and calm sense of controlling my own body. But it’s not the treatment that will work.

    Because I want to be in control. Addiction is a disease. And anyone with ADHD should not suffer with using a disease to treat a disorder. I am sorry for the length. It’s nice to share my thoughts and personal experience with others who also know what it’s like.

    1. Dear Randi,

      I am grateful to have your story here. I hope some readers will find comfort and validation — and others will find reasons for compassion and grasping science.

      I wish you all the best in finding treatment that helps you. It might be that Vyvanse isn’t the best class of stimulant. Perhaps a choice in the methylphenidate class might be better (e.g. Ritalin, brand Concerta, Quillivant, Daytrana, etc.). It really depends on genetics, as to which class works better for an individual. And it’s impossible to know beforehand.

      Please keep us posted!


    2. Very similar to my experience randy. Very. I’m 3 years clean and have adhd and my brain feels super well then absolutely fragmented. I can’t do anything but think. Working is hard. Opening a bill is hard. Solving complex problems a breeze. Its not pleasant. Some of your reported responses to your own story seem analogous nice post. I even like my response. The gas bill in front of me is still over due. I really should open it. Squirrel. No seriously. I just saw a squirrel. Hahaha. I’m kidding. It was mouse.

    3. Omg… you just described my life. Everything you shared is me. Your describing using your keen wit in school was my game also. I would say the first time I tried meth was the first time I felt normal.

  10. All I keep reading is “find a doctor who understands”. How are we supposed to do that?! None of them do!

    I am legally disabled for other mental disorders and have been advised to seek adhd testing. Every doctor dismisses my concerns. I have used meth for ten years in secret, because it is the onoy way I can get out of bed and the only way i can at least half function. It was that way before i started using. Im at my best when i do use.

    I see no point in gettinh tested when my use will label me an addict and ill be forced back into treatment for a fifth time. I can play the game and get clean but why stay clean and depressed in bed, unable to get up except to crawl to the toilet.

    No will to live no interest in anything to where you cant even watch a movie through.

    I KNOW if I were prescribed Desoxyn I could quit using street meth but I cant quit before that or Id never get to the appointment to begin with. Ive been prescribed high doses of every SSRI on the planet and other categories as well and nothing helps.

    I am always late, losing things, have rejection anxiety and extreme responses, impatient, always moving, overemotional, disorganized and I’m ANGRY.

    I have decided to seek euthanasia underground once I can get into Mexico for the drugs. If nobody is going to do what they should to help in my best interest because theyre cowards hiding behind fatcat government who doesnt want to lose their criminal cash cow, so be it. My blood will be on their hands.

    When are these genius doctors going to look at paces like Peru where all drugs are legal and see how well theyre doing addiction and health-wise? Far better than us.

    I hope all doctors, cops and government officials are shown more mercy by god in judgement in the hereafter than they have shown me in this world.

    1. Dear Audrey,

      My heart goes out to you. It’s not right. It’s definitely not right. In fact, it is abusive. This situation.

      I know it’s hard to read “find a doctor who understands.” I wish I made the rules—and enforced them. But I don’t.

      It might not be a capitalist conspiracy — depriving you and other people suffering underlying addictions of psychiatric disorders. It is more likely, I’m afraid, rank stupidity. Yes, among physicians. Yes, among psychaitrist. Yes, among “substance abuse disorder specialists.” (Now, that IS a cash cow, imho.)

      You might want to read my reply to Amy, below, citing various studies about ADHD+ addiction treatment. Specifically, it’s not always true that the patient should stop “self-medicating” for X days/weeks/months before getting legitimate treatment.

      I can only validate your experience and that you deserve competent, compassionate treatment. I’m sorry that’s not enough.


    2. Amen Audrey!!! I too have been self medicating for nearly 15 years with methamphetamine.

      I don’t use more than I need to function, nor do I have any behaviors nor side effects using the drug supposedly causes. It’s so sad cuz it fills me with shame but it is the only thing that calms me yet allows me to focus and be alert. Without the drug I am completely lethargic & cannot function at all whatsoever.

      I’ve been down the road of recovery, have tried nearly every single anti depressant & antipsychotic medications, have had extensive therapy & have tried just about everything to change myself…all of which failed. Just recently I was finally diagnosed with ADHD but I cannot continue to see that doctor because I cannot afford him.

      I will be 50 years old this year & trust me…I do not want to be using drugs but it is my medicine. I was actually arrested for possession of the drug (an ex boyfriend who was extremely abusive called the police on me & they took me to jail).

      It is absolutely mind blowing how the majority of people simply follow what they are told by the government & by way of the laws instead of actually looking at the individual who’s taking drugs. I have met quite a few users throughout my years of using & I believe that a huge percentage of these people are self medicating & are living in shame not to mention having to go to places that could be dangerous to get their medication.

      I cannot get on an airplane. I cannot date. I cannot have “normal” friends. The persona of what I use as my medication is so far from the actual truth that I would either be thrown in a rehab facility, psych hospital or jail. Neither of which helps me. In fact, the jail experience & being on probation for 2 years caused me so much stress I actually lost all of my hair at age 48. It’s still growing back.

      I am on disability partly for my mental illnesses & a physical issue & I work part time. I have a very limited income & paying for my medicine is an absurd amount of money each month causing me to have a lower quality of life than I could have if I was receiving a prescription.

      I have not met any person with authority from my parents to police to my doctor’s that would understand nor believe me. I’ve remained in poverty, have only 2 friends & have no real life…but at least I can take care of myself & do my job.

      I’ve been alone since my divorce which happened in my early 30’s and that in itself has taken a huge toll on me. I feel defeated & pray to God nearly every day to let me come home cuz the medicine I take must remain hidden or I suffer horrific consequences.

      What can we do? Who do we turn to? What happens when I can no longer make it to the dealer or when he goes to jail? Am I really going to be 60 years old purchasing my medication from the streets? I thank you all for sharing a little about your experiences.

      I believe the government knows what they are doing & yes, most people in jail are in there on drug charges. My little bout cost me over $4000! And my probation officer was horrible. When I got a dirty UA, she tried to send me to jail for the minimum 2 year sentence.

      I’m not a criminal! But I’m considered one now. I can only pray that one day enough people with come forth & collectively force others to take notice of what’s really happening. Putting a mentally ill person in jail for self medicating should be illegal!!! The system is completely upside down. May God help us all.

    3. MizJ,

      I’m so glad that my blog post has offered you a degree of support and validation.

      Your story should be read by every substance-abuse center, every psychiatrist, and every criminal-justice professional, and the public.

      Thank you for detailing it in horrifying detail.

      I am so sorry this is your life. I wish you all the luck in the world in finding a smart prescriber who can help you.

      Reagan did away with community mental-health clinics, for the most part, and that is criminal, imho.

      I don’t think it’s the “government” at fault. Not entirely. I think it’s humans who cannot understand complexity. And of course, there are competing business interests — the private prison industry has been quite lucrative and was allowed to proliferate in the 2000s.

      Our U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse director, Nora Volkow, MD, PhD, is a fierce crusader for educating the public: Addiction is a mental illness. And many with untreated mental illness consume addictive substances in an effort to cope. Then they get the double-whammy of symptoms plus addiction.

      You deserve better. I hope you can find it.

      take care,

    4. I just finished reading your post and it brought tears to my eyes my life is everything you described. I was tested for adhd as a child in the early 80’s my parents were told I didn’t have adhd but a behavioural problem and only 2 years ago while incarcerated I was diagnosed with adhd with IED and RSD attached to my diagnosis
      I still do meth everyday I eat 3 meals day I work 8-10 hours a day I sleep at least 6 hours a night even if I do meth 10 minutes before bed I pass out like a 6 year old after all the excitement of Christmas Day the days I don’t use it’s procrastinating depression no organization quick tempered over most things and I know it’s depression I was prescribed vyvance and Prozac but do not have medical coverage and find buying meth easier to afford and with the results of using I never second guess my using and forget I even have prescriptions

    5. Dear Mark,

      I’m so glad this blog post has validated your experience. Imagine how many other people there are out there, not knowing. It’s crazy.

      Just FYi — Most of the pharma companies have patient-assistance programs. Including Vyvanse. You just go to their website, get a savings card, and take it to your pharmacy along with a prescription.

      Vyvanse is a sustained-release Dexedrine. It works well for many people. But who knows how taking the meth has affected your brain chemistry.

      I’m certainly no expert on meth, but I do know that it’s the delivery system that makes the biggest difference among the stimulants. From what I recall in a lecture years ago, “street meth” overshoots the targets. It’s “bigger and messier” than the pharmaceutical stimulants, which are more targeted. Same with cocaine. Pharmaceutical methamphetamine used to be prescribed for ADHD and still is in some places.

      You don’t mention your age. Maybe your chosen treatment will continue working well for you. Or maybe over time, it might.

      At least you have more information now.

      take care,

    6. Melinda Rosingana

      I read this and I am angry. Not just angry, furious. The more I read about ADHD makes it more apparent that our lives are at risk and why if I can find this information can’t a prescribing physician.
      My story is kind of opposite of many of the stories I’ve read here, but the same in significance. I had been diagnosed with ADHD and medicated with Adderall. The difference to my life was miraculous to say the least. I had also prior to this diagnosis been diagnosed with Depression and anxiety, possibly bi polar major depressive disorder. After taking Adderall, however I had no symptoms of depression or anxiety.
      There were days that I could not physically make myself get out of bed. I have the work record of the typical ADHD sufferer. I also had a drinking problem. After taking this incredible, miraculous drug. I didn’t care about alcohol one way or another. It was truly a miracle.
      I moved from the state I was living in to another who’s medical establishment was not what you would call progressive to say the least. I had a hard time finding a Dr. to prescribe Adderall. I had been taking it as prescribed for five years at this time. I found a Dr. to prescribe finally and things were golden for a while. Drug testing is required for a prescription for Adderall, I believe, although I’m going to make sure that is the case for sure now.
      Anyway I was starting to have a hard time. My Mother was dying and I was caring for her and working full time. I started drinking more than usual which showed up on the drug screen. After a few chances he wouldn’t prescribe my Adderall. I had been taking it for 10 years at this time. I bet you can see what happened. I just now, tonight pieced it together. The dosage I was talking for 10 years had started to lose it’s effectiveness.
      A thoughtful and considering physician might have considered this, but he took me off cold turkey. Everyone’s story is their own. Let’s just say that my decent into meth abuse is not a pretty one.
      And here comes the rage…. I finally after 2 years of using meth to think and function like a normal human got the courage to quit for 5 days thinking it would be out of my system to beg another prescription for Adderall. Promising recovery and whole nine, because I know this isn’t the most insightful man in the cosmos, and vasillating between five second patient visits and covering his ass is hard work.
      Anyhoo, he found meth in my system, stopped the Adderall and I’m back self medicating and harming my body because this man is a horrible Dr.
      When I think of the contempt and disgust he looked at me with. When I think about my shame and humiliation. I don’t know what to do with this anger. And he should be a very happy man that I am on meth.
      What makes me want to cry and never stop is I CAN’T go through the withdrawal again! I will kill myself. I feel stuck, and full of rage, and completely impotent. My life has been ruined.

    7. Hi Melinda,

      It can be such an awful tragedy when people with ADHD, who “sought treatment,” are let down so horribly by prescribers. I’m sorry this happened to you.

      Unfortunately, the prescriber’s major error may have been starting you on Adderall (without, presumably, trials of other Rx with a lower side-effect profile), keeping you on Adderall for years, and then not seeing the increased alcohol consumption as a sign that he was failing in treating you for ADHD+.

      Many people taking Adderall resort to a “come down” substance — cannabis, alcohol, etc..

      I hope you can find better treatment for your ADHD, and that means being pro-active in your medical care. Unfortunately, there is no way around it. We cannot depend on the average prescriber to competently treat ADHD.

      Here is more on Adderall:


      take care,

  11. I can hardly see through my tears right now.

    I am sitting on my bathroom floor, discouraged, ashamed and late to work. A repeat of yesterday. I’ll get to work late, but I have to do what I must to hide the self hating functional addict that I am. And it’s getting harder by the day.

    Because meth is not meant to help me function, no matter how easily I ration it. I hate it I hate me because of it but I KNOW I’m not a bad person. I’m a single mom , caring for parents part time, I love people, I work, I’m educated, I’m distracted, intense, late to EVERYTHING, hurting, wishing I had this diagnosis confirmed like my brothers do. Instead I went down a road so similar to Katherine’s that I fell to my knees and sobbed right here in the bathroom now.

    You’re right, her story helped me feel like I can reach out and maybe this time I won’t be looked at suspiciously like I’m trying to score stims like all addicts apparently do. Sheesh.

    I’ve been “functioning” this way for years. And I’m tired. I’m aging fast. Even with super active health and beauty routines, zero use of any other substances or alcohol, I know meth will always win at slowly killing me. Add the self esteem issues to the mix.

    I’m so stressed. I hurt from how cruel I am to me when I’m alone. My little boy needs to see his momma in the best she can be. This is NOT ME. I am praying that you can help me, Gina.

    I have hope.

    I’ll peruse this site later of course….but I really gotta go to work now!! Routinely inconsistent is that even a thing? Ha. Oh thank you for allowing comments and for sharing to everyone here. Sure helped me turn my day around for the better!

    1. Dear Amy,

      I am heartbroken to read your story. It’s not right, in this 21st Century, having the preponderance of scientific knowledge, that you have been forced to fend for yourself in the best way you can find—and then feel guilty about it.

      Especially if your brothers had the benefit of the ADHD diagnosis while you did not — that just adds insult to injury!

      THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN! Just as Cameron’s story should not have happened or anyone else’s story here should not have happened.

      Yes, “Routinely inconsistent” is a thing with ADHD. Some might also say, “Consistently inconsistent.”

      That is the central challenge of ADHD: Self-regulation.

      There are several points I’d like to respond to:

      1. How well do you think you’d be functioning, given meth usage, if you weren’t also beating yourself up over it?

      In other words, how much stress are you adding to your life by what you tell yourself about using meth?

      Perhaps if you could make peace with that, temporarily, that might give you more peace of mind.

      2. Do you know who is in your corner? The director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow.

      She is a brilliant neuroscientist who could have worked anywhere. She chose public service and researching substance-use disorders.

      As a child, she observed that some people could, for example, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol but not become addicted. Others would immediately become addicted. What was the difference, she asked?

      She rejected the “morality” explanation and pursued the scientific line of inquiry. She has produced some pivotal research on dopamine transmission in the brain and the vulnerability to substance use.

      Here is an interview I did with her several years ago, for CHADD’s Attention magazine:


      Bottom line: You are not dealing with a moral issue, an issue of your having bad character. You are dealing with a physiological issue.

      3. The risk for children with untreated ADHD of developing substance-use disorders is well-documented.

      Again, not morality. Science.

      4. You deserve evidence-based treatment.

      There is indeed a lot of well, let’s be kind and call it ignorance, in the mental health profession.

      At the same time, the increase in stimulant availability — and thus abuse — has also created a difficult situation for psychiatrists and other prescribers who seek to be responsible in not making a patient’s bad situation worse.

      Some psychiatrists might throw up their hands and say, “It’s impossible to tell if you really have ADHD when you are abusing street stimulants.”

      But that’s not always true.

      Some might insist that the patient be completely off any drugs for a certain amount of time before they re-evaluate. But then there’s the risk of attributing ADHD symptoms to “withdrawal” or childhood trauma or any of a number of narratives.

      It might be possible to evaluate for ADHD in this population, at least for some clients.

      That includes getting a full history, back to childhood, to understand if ADHD has been present for a long time.

      This is an old paper (2007), but it’s the first I could find now that explains several of the issues. Including that sometimes taking a stimulant when one has a history of SUD might be a good idea. With conditions.


      Some authorities have proposed approaches that emphasize medications with a lower risk of abuse, such as antidepressants or clonidine, before using traditional stimulant medications such as methylphenidate or amphetamine analogs.

      However, clinical trials of methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine for the treatment of either cocaine dependence or ADHD in patients with co-occurring SUD have shown that stimulant medications can be used safely in patients with SUD and have a relatively low risk of abuse under monitored conditions.

      While the treatment literature for ADHD in patients with SUD is not well developed [remember, this paper was published in 2007], the emerging trend is that medications effective for adult ADHD may be effective for adults with ADHD and co-occurring SUD, but the therapeutic benefit may be less or non-existent if substance use is ongoing. Several possible causes of this phenomenon include the following:

      —patients with ongoing SUD do not reliably take their medication,
      —patients with SUD may require higher doses (ie, higher tolerance) than administered in clinical trials, and
      —ongoing SUD makes detection of a therapeutic effect less likely.

      Amy, you deserve better. I hope that, as you become convinced of that, you punish yourself less and expect more of the medical profession. Sometimes, that shift in perspective can be enough to open doors once though locked for you.

      I hope this helps.

      Please stay in touch. We’re rooting for you.


  12. Hi!

    So I’m going out on a limb here, but I feel I’m at an impasse and maybe this will help. I’m a 29 year old trans man living in Canada, with a partner of 8 years and phenomenal crisis management skills I’m hoping to turn into a career. My whole life I’ve struggled with fatigue, severe brain fog and focus problems as well as other mental health issues which are largely considered managed now. I went through my late teens and early 20s doing sleep studies for narcolepsy, epilepsy, learning disability tests, and seeing psychiatrist after psychiatrist. I wound up with an incomprehensible list of mostly NOS diagnosis (4/6), a handful of possibilities and “traits of” (ADD being the one everyone mentioned but no one followed up on), and a black label of “too complicated to treat”. Despite all my challenges I am very proud of how far I’ve come. However the recent challenge is that the last 2 years I’ve struggled with using stimulants – first cocaine, then to the rooms of NA, rehab, and now for the last year crystal meth.

    With cocaine, and in rehab, I was obsessed with the high as it was the first thing to “make me function like a human” and “make me feel normal”. Obsessed is the right word though, and I would chase that sucker down with every drop of cash in my bank account.

    On my final sit down at rehab, minutes before I walked out the door, the councillor was going on about how I “used coke for the rush, how confident it made you feel, how in control” and I was stunned. After 30 days, he didn’t even know my reasons to use! So I interrupted and corrected him – “it’s the clarity, the focus, and the being able to stay awake for more than 4 hours at a time that I liked about it. The rest is just bonus.”

    He was shocked, but shrugged it off and said “well then, it’s likely you have ADHD, you might want to get that checked,” following up with how I had to do that on my own since my time with them was up.

    It’s a sentence I’ve heard many times, but this time it hit me different – if I was using to treat my ADHD, why don’t I just take it like meds? I’d argued for them with my psychiatrist for 10 years to no avail (“a stimulant will make you manic”, yet nothing else worked). Why can’t I take things into my own hands?

    Meth changed my story. I originally sought it to reduce the financial strain (1.5g coke/day is pricy, especially on disability) and because it was known to treat ADHD, but expected something similar to cocaine. What I found was more normal than I thought possible! My thinking was even clearer and not hindered by the rush of cocaine, I could set out to do a task and it would get done, I still felt hungry and my eating balanced out from one meal every two days to two meals every day, and I could carry on a conversation without missing words or jumping trains of thought! In my new found clarity I’ve learned to love myself, since I finally feel like I actually am myself.

    Yes, at times I’ve gone overboard. Yes, I’ve had days (weeks) where I said f*ck it and done more than my dealer thought possible. No, I’m not great at portioning out and caping a daily dose, as I prefer the ritual of smoking far more. I won’t lie, I like the high when I’m hiding from myself. That’s pretty normal, I think. What isn’t normal is how I like just before the high more, where you don’t have a buzz of any sort your just awake and able to think. That’s apparently frustrating as hell for most users, who knew!

    However, I want to stop – there’s too much run around, inconsistency, and risk. I’m not obsessed like I was, with meth I find it easy to stop and go through early withdrawal – I’m day 9 of a “health and wellness” break right now, with only a “cheat” of the dust from an empty baggy to help me clean the room yesterday – yet when I am not using I get so frustrated with myself and my inabilities that it has negative repercussions in my life. My parter said last night “when you use a little your great, when you use a lot you get hypomanic, and when your in detox your hell to live with.” I know I can stop, but I feel there’s got to be something to catch me as I do.

    I’m just scared, I think. I’m scared to be written off or rejected again, or worse yet outright wrong about my guess of ADHD! I’m scared of being seen as a user who wants an extra fix, I’m scared of not making progress if I do try, and I’m scared of getting yet another diagnosis added to the pile. I just got cleared to not need a psychiatrist, the amount of bs packed into my story is intimidating to most doctors, and I don’t even know where to start!

    I’ll end this personal essay there, or I’m going to write forever. If you’ve read all of this, thank you. If you reply, thank you more! Even if you don’t, writing things out has been a cathartic way to spend my morning, so again thank you. Keep up the good work your doing, stay safe, and have a wonderful day. 🙂

    1. Dear Cameron,

      My heart goes out to you. And I’d like to inflict punishment on the string of “mental health professionals” who, from what you describe, neglected and in a very real sense treated you abusively.


      On a positive note: You are obviously smart, self-aware, and a survivor. You came through all that having what sounds like a very clear self-assessment and perspective of your situation going forward with finding professional help. Huzzah.

      Yes, a type of meth was in the past and, to a much more limited degree, still is prescribed for ADHD. But it is pharmaceutical grade methamphetamine, not street meth. I’m not an expert on this, but I am guessing the Dexosyn delivery system is more regulated than with street meth (not to mention all the variables and impurities associated with that “homemade” manufacture). Here is a bit I found on the difference:

      Desoxyn is often compared to street meth that is not quite as a potent feeling but gives much more clarity than that of the illicit drug, meth. In the same manner that people that become addicted to painkillers and turn to heroin because of the price and availability, people that abuse Desoxyn will eventually turn to street meth for the same reasoning without thinking of the danger that these drugs pose.

      It is NOT YOUR FAULT that you had days where you “went overboard.” ADHD itself creates essential problems with self-regulation. And attempting to treat that with an elephant gun (street meth/cocaine) rather than a more targeted pea shooter (pharmaceutical stimulants) can compound that self-regulation challenge. My sense is that you were doing the best you can just to function. Who doesn’t want to function?

      As far as re-starting your efforts on the mental-health professional front, I think you need to be very strategic.

      The truth is, many of the professionals you encounter will, ah-hem, not have graduated at the top of their class. Some of them are just not strong critical thinkers—or all that empathic. They might see all their patients through a restricted prism, based on their limited understanding of neuroscience or being unduly influenced by a charismatic leader in the field with one organizing principle (e.g. Trauma Causes All Ills).

      As concerns ADHD alone — without all the other issues — that is dicey when it comes to the average therapist or psychiatrist understanding, much less treating.

      Putting all that you describe here out there for a random professional to sort out……well, let’s just say, if it were me, I would not risk that kind of vulnerability. And I don’t mean emotional vulnerability. But vulnerability to nonsense, misdiagnoses, and more wrong directions.

      Much will depend on your access to resources. For example: Do you live in a major urban area where a certain level of sophistication might be found? Or are you in a rural area with scant access to help of any kind?

      Whatever the case, I would encourage you not to dump all these threads in some random person’s lap. I would organize those threads in a coherent, systematic manner.

      If you are convinced that ADHD is your core issue — that is, the one that showed up earliest in life and has continued to challenge you in all kinds of ways — you might want to just focus on that for now. And document it. In other words, take charge and self-advocate.

      For example, I would start with ADHD symptoms. Create a list and check which resonate for you — and have since childhood. Provide examples at various stages in life. ADHD symptoms manifest differently in a 10-year-old than in a 30-year-old.

      Include and detail the “domains of life” in which ADHD has created problems for you — work, school, relationships, money, etc. [I am developing this as an exercise for my online training. It’s so important.]

      I cannot advise on how much of the other information you should disclose immediately or maybe wait until you and the professional have a better sense of each other.

      But know this: The stupid truth is that some will hear “trans” or “substance abuser” and that is the box in which you will remain and that will determine any future action. Especially given the widespread paltry understanding of ADHD. So, I urge caution and pro-action, not being passive.

      Two things:

      1. We know that children with untreated ADHD are more likely to develop substance-use disorders (SUD).

      2. Longitudinal studies from Barkley et al have associated ADHD with a slightly higher rate of “gender dysmorphic disorder.” Perhaps that is an offensive term. I don’t know. I am simply pointing out that any professional who would seek to attribute your ADHD-like symptoms to being trans (and the potential psycho-social effects of that) might be putting the cart before the horse. Same with SUD. Here is the first study I found:


      If you haven’t read my first book, I encourage you to read it so as to solidify your foundation of ADHD knowledge.

      Then use the third-section as your consumer guide to ADHD treatment. The Appendix includes the diagnostic criteria (from DSM-IV, but it’s little changed with DSM-V; one major difference is that symptoms can manifest by age 14 instead of 7). My book is endorsed by a Who’s Who of preeminent researchers and clinicians. It is based on science, not my little opinions.


      I hope this helps, Cameron, and I wish you all the best.

  13. I’m a regular meth user, not an addict, I won’t do anything for it but I do need it to function. I used to do cocaine but I moved across country and the coke scene was abysmal compared to where I was from. They had meth where I moved to, I used to be scared of it, TV makes it looked scary like if you tale it u will automatically become a tweaker but the reality is that I have severe depression, I’m always down and unfocused, I get anxiety and meth helps with that I think that population of users are the majority while the tweakers are the minority but are the face of it which is a great scare tactic for not use. My wife is an asshole, no better way to put it, I love her but I question if she ever did, because the way she treats me makes me want to kill myself. We been together for 20 years 15 married 3 kids. My depression and anxiety and lack of focus which I’m wondering if its ADHD, makes it hard to find motivation to get up and work and when I’m working to stay there and keep a job. My wife being the insensitive jerk just calls me weak and an addict. You couldn’t tell I was a meth user by the media’s depictions of one, it mellows me, calms my anxiety and makes me alert and focused. Coke only made me happy and awake while this stuff is like productive. I don’t know what to do I’m so alone and the drugs are my only friend. She just is to narcissistic to care and gaslighting me to death while playing the victim. If we didn’t have kids I would blow my brains out just to kill this pain on me it’s almost physical.

    1. Dear Djack,

      I can only try to imagine how painful your situation is.

      You definitely owe it to yourself and your future to get evaluated for ADHD–and, if diagnosed, try evidence-based medications for ADHD.

      I encourage you to learn more about ADHD by reading/listening to my book. It’s based on the science, with lots of personal stories as well, along with details on medical treatment and the therapy model developed for ADHD (based on CBT).

      Meth might seem to help but it might be creating more problems than it solves, with rebounding, etc..

      A major challenge will be finding a care provider who knows the connection between untreated ADHD and substance-use disorders.

      Some might insist that you get off meth first and then try a non-stimulant (Strattera, which is approved for ADHD but which most savvy experts will tell you doesn’t perform as well for most people with ADHD).

      Some might agree to prescribe a stimulant but with close monitoring.

      I know you can do better than meth, and I wish you all the best in finding the help you deserve.

      In the meantime, you might want to try to ignore your wife’s judgments — or your judgments of her. As best you can. It might be that, for both of you, perceptions are distorted through an ADHD/meth haze.

      good luck,

  14. This is an old thread but I’m desperate. I’ve been addicted to meth for a decade…and Im 99% sure I have ADHD.

    The stigma of using and fear of punishment and judgment keeps me from seeking an official diagnosis. How do I get prescribed ADHD meds when I’m on meth when they drug teat you before prescribing and then label you an abuser?

    I don’t abuse meth, I’ve never stolen to support my habit, I just can’t function or get anything done without it. I want to stop because it’s illegal and I don’t want to go to jail. But I have no choice. I’m considering suicide because doctors don’t kill and are so prejudiced

    1. Dear Marie,

      I’m saddened to read of your situation. It is absolutely unjust—and worse than Medieval. It’s punishing and cruel, and I’m sorry it’s happening to you.

      It is the very rare physician who will understand that you use meth just to function—and that you’d much rather be receiving evidence-based treatment for what you suspect is ADHD.

      If you go to addiction specialists, many don’t understand ADHD. Some focus on childhood trauma as the cause of using substances, completely ignoring the possibility of brain-based challenges that leave people seeking “stimulation” of all types just to focus and calm their mind.

      If you go to a “straight” psychiatrist, many don’t understand the “self-medicating” aspect of untreated conditions. Or, if they do, they demand that you “get clean” before considering an evaluation, much less any type of medication.

      Their perspective is understandable. But it’s not helpful to the people who might truly do well with proper treatment and stop using “illicit” substances.

      I don’t have first-hand experience with this hotline, but it might be worth a try.


      SAMHSA is a government agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

      The science in charge of the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse is very enlightened on the vulnerability of people with ADHD to developing substance-use disorders. So, I’m hoping that her enlightened attitude extends to SAMHSA.

      I hope that your talk of suicide is momentary frustration. But please, know that ADHD-related impulsivity can create a higher risk for suicide — which is often an impulsive, in-the-moment act. Please keep this number handy.

      Suicide Prevention Lifeline
      1-800-273-TALK (8255)
      TTY: 1-800-799-4889
      Website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

      24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call is routed to the nearest crisis center in the national network of more than 150 crisis centers.

      If you need to make your case with a treating physician, you can offer these papers:



      Finally, please know that you have a RIGHT to legitimate treatment. You should not have to bear this burden alone. Sometimes, when people who write to me get very clear about that, doors start to open.

      I hope this helps.

      Please take care and always feel free to leave a comment.


  15. Hello – it was an interesting read.
    My older brother was addicted to methamphetamines in his later teens and 20s.

    Now as a father myself, I have worry about my 13 year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD at age 6 and high functioning Autism at age 10 ½.

    For nearly 7 years he has been on an increasing dosage of dexmethylphenidate. I don’t think he is abusing, but even so, I see many of the same symptoms as my brother and wonder whether the drugs for ADHD which supposedly help with focus by eliminating the need to self stimulate are doing real, long-term damage. My son is short for his age – but that isn’t what’s worrisome. I am worried that he is in the 1% tile for BMI.

    He is moody, agitated, argumentative; lies and steals; is screen-addicted – which we try to prevent, but he steals. He had a terrible appetite and won’t eat anything but foods that give him a sugar surge.

    He was at one time diagnosed with Tourettes but now takes another medication to reduce that. He is often paranoid and has hallucinations, he often has stomach aches and constipation. So even while he technically is taking what he was prescribed, I still am of the growing belief that his. medication is the problem, not the cure.

    A couple of times in the past, my ex-wife and her husband have tried to get him off the meds, but they give up quickly because of the roller coaster which I believe resembles my brother when he came off drugs. I think they believe he can get clean an a week of so. I think there’s no way that will happen – and as he gets older, his ability to figure out the connection between the drugs and his highs could start him abusing and making the situation even worse.

    No doubt I want him to be successful in school, but not at the expense of his brain essentially being bathed in dopamine all the time through drugs.

    1. Hi Marston,

      I appreciate your situation. I’m wondering, are you in Australia? Because Dexedrine is so rarely prescribed in the U.S. and elsewhere. Yet, I hear about it often from people in Australia.

      In which case, you might be right. But your ex-wife might be right, too.

      That is, he might be gaining some benefit from the Dex. But he might also be getting adverse side effects.

      While Dexedrine might, in the end, be the best choice for a minority of people with ADHD, for most it will present more problems than it solves. Mainly due to the delivery system but also because 40% of people with ADHD respond better to the other class of stimulants.

      I implore you and your ex-wife to work together on getting better treatment for him. He is 13, so you still have some degree of control vis a vis medical care. But that window will close quickly.

      I encourage you to read the medication chapters in my first book. They explain a basic protocol that should be used for all ADHD patients — but seldom is. (Link below)

      It might be that you have to go outside of the NHS to private care. I’ve not yet encountered a single-payer insurance country where ADHD wasn’t treated with disregard if not contempt.

      re: the “high-functioning autism” diagnosis.

      I would question that. It might be the case. Or it might not. Far too often, ADHD symptoms are mistaken for autistic spectrum disorders.

      Correct diagnosis is critical because it points the way to the most appropriate treatment strategies. The “social deficits” associated with ADHD are largely treatable, and that is paramount.

      You say he’s taking a mother medication to reduce Tourrette’s. That could be further complicating things if that is also an incorrect diagnosis.

      Bottom line: Your child deserves proper treatment. The Dex could be pushing him into irritability and aggression. The stops-and-starts of the delivery could have him on a perpetual roller coaster.

      He should be given another trial of stimulants — at least one choice in each class (amphetamine and methylphenidate). And he should be evaluated for anxiety and depression that co-exists to ADHD — not that is caused by ADHD.

      Diet is important. He should be getting sufficient vitamins and minerals (magnesium and B vitamin deficiency have been associated with the vulnerability to tics while taking a stimulant).

      ADHD can make it hard to “focus” on food — or even taste food that is not sugary, crunchy, etc.. Dopamine has an effect on those things as well.

      Sleep is important, too. But these can be hard to manage while treatment remains poor.

      I hope you can get better help for him soon. I really would not delay. This can affect the entire course of his life.

      I understand that you see a lot of your brother in him. But please know that proper treatment might help him avoid your unfortunate brother’s troubles.

      Here is the link to my book in the U.S.: https://amzn.to/2ZveH4d

      Here it is in AU, if that’s where you are:.
      Learn more: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0050JCA7C/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_QYXdFb81BREWG

      Best of luck to you all!

  16. Hello Gina, my name is Araceli and I’m a meth recovering addict.

    I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was about 12 I’m Hispanic and my mother was ignorant of what ADHD was she didn’t think treatment was necessary.

    My whole teenage years where very hard not wanting to go to school because I was always tired and I would rather stay home, or acted like I was going to school then ditch and go to a house party or the mall.

    I did graduate high school a year later. Then what I was supposed to do? It was hard. I didn’t go to college because I don’t think I was good enough or smart enough.

    I got pregnant instead. My boyfriend moved in with me and then he got arrested a couple of years later. He went to prison and I was left alone with a toddler to take care of. So I started waitressing in a topless cabaret.

    I was 23 the first time I tried meth and I liked it. It took the edge off. In 2007 I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I had been doing meth for quite some time.

    I went to this free clinic here in Phoenix because I don’t have health insurance. They prescribed Bupropion ER/SR 150 mg,hydroxyz Hcl 25 mg and propranolol 10 mg see at this clinic. They know I’m a recovering addict so they only treat me for anxiety and depression but they don’t treat my ADHD.

    This is my sixth different prescription, and I always go back and relapse I have been trying to find help, I just went through a dramatic domestic violence incident and I’m even worse now.

    It keeps on and on. My life has been hell and I have the scars to prove it.

    I left my partner and my kids are not with me. Child protective services took them they said I put them in danger.

    I started treatment again for the fourth or fifth time. I don’t know what to do any more.

    Depression, anxiety, ADHD, and know probably PTSD. I don’t want to do anything I can’t focus and I’m scared and feel like nobody likes me.

    I feel like a disappointment. Right now I’m not taking any meds. I need help and nobody seems to understand me. Can you please give some advice.
    Thank you Araceli

    1. Dear Araceli,

      I am so very sorry. The ignorance in society and even the medical field is just horrendous and it results in so much unnecessary suffering. It’s overwhelming.

      You must be very strong if you’d held on through all this.

      If you have been taking bupropion, that has some stimulating properties. The prescribing physician should know that.

      I wish I had some great advice for you.

      Perhaps the most useful thing I can do is assure you that you DESERVE competent treatment.

      Here is a comprehensive article on treating people with ADHD who also have substance-use disorders.

      It mentions a few studies showing that methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana, etc.) did NOT increase cocaine cravings in people with ADHD who had a cocaine-abuse problem.

      It also mentions that the longer-acting methylphenidate (for example, Concerta) might reduce risk. The immediate release stimulants (Ritalin, etc.) take effect quickly and tend to wear off quickly. With the long-acting medications, it’s slower to ramp up and slower to wear off.


      Here is a more recent article, specifically about ADHD and methamphetamine:



      Conclusion: This study provided some preliminary findings supporting the prevalence of Adult ADHD among METH users and its negative impacts on their global functioning and quality of life. To provide more effective intervention for METH users, detection and treatment of those with A-ADHD can be of clinical value.

      I encourage you to print these studies and bring a copy to your provider, asking to please read.

      I wish you luck. Know that you deserve 21st Century medical understanding and compassion.


    2. I understand you completely as I suffer from ADHD anxiety depression and OCD symptoms. Im not taking any medications or treatments/therapy either. I also use/abuse meth to self medicate my symptoms. I feel like nobody understands me and hopeless at times. I’ve learned being associated with or known to use/abuse meth, you loose your voice and are misunderstood because of the negative stigma and perception of the drug has on society. Im not saying it’s perfect either. I just want to share your not alone. I feel nobody gets me and push everything and everyone away and just want to give up. I feel hopefully knowing I’m not alone and want to find people like me to discuss similarities and work on findind a solution.

    3. Dear Kevin,

      Thank you for supporting Araceli and expressing your personal feelings.

      I can only imagine how much harsh judgment you receive.

      I suspect that loved ones are desperately worried about you and are trying to “scare you straight.”

      However well-meaning, that is an extremely outdated—and never useful—approach.

      I encourage you to pursue ADHD treatment, if at all possible. You don’t know what is ADHD, anxiety, depression, or OCD until you start treatment.

      It might be that you have those co-existing conditions. Or it might those are misdiagnoses—and will resolve with ADHD treatment. At least one or two of them.

      Please keep reading here, especially the comments. I think you’ll find that we all “get it.”

      take care,

  17. I’m being treated as an addict not someone that has adhd. How long before i can get heard that I have adhd an get the meds i need. I would like to know more. Thanks

    1. Hi Sandi,

      I’m sorry this is happening to you. It happens far too much.

      What you need is an MD who understands this issue — and your determination not to settle for less.

      Good luck,

    1. Terry Ann Francis

      I can relate to all of these people in some ways or all. I have spent the last few hours reading from the beginning. I was 15 years old, at the skating rink when someone talked me into smoking a cigarette. The moment I put it out I craved another. Same with alcohol. I stole a shot of my stepdad whisky at 13 and something magical happened. Head in the clouds, feet on the ground. I belonged in my skin. I instinctively knew this was what I was supposed to feel like, that others, the ones I could never relate to, always felt this way. Once again I immediately craved another. Same thing with cocaine at 18 and meth around 34. Meth was the best. I was diagnosed with “addictive behavior”, with no reason for it. Later it became “bipolar disorder”. One by one I released custody of my four kids. I felt bad and ashamed. I had bad moral judgement and no self control. A terrible, weak person. My family made me feel worthless. At 63, they still do.

    2. Dear Terry Ann,

      I can only imagine what that feels like.

      What is it with people who push substances on others. I smoked years ago but I would never have thought of giving a cigarette to a non-smoker…”Here, try this.”

      Some of us are more physically vulnerable to develop addictions. It has nothing to do with being an “addictive personality” — which itself is often said with a shaming attitude.

      It has to do with neurobiology.

      I hope you are able to find peace with this.


    1. I’m a 26 year old female whose been diagnosed bpd/bipolar, schizoaffective, ptsd, general anxiety, adhd and substance abuse disorder. In 2016 I did cocaine for the first time and instantly said, “oh my God, is this what it’s like to feel normal?” Which led to self medicating with stimulants. It wasn’t until a month ago I was diagnosed ADHD. I have a Dr and therapist who believe me and want to help me for the first time in my life.
      I became addicted to opioids over the pandemic due to moving in with my dad and in January 2021 I went to the only 24/7 methadone maintenance treatment center around. I am so grateful I’ve been in tears tonight.

      I’ve tried all of the non narc options for adhd in 2017 ish and my dr then decided I couldn’t have adhd, because he wouldn’t give me stimulants. He refused because I was a recovering meth addict, even though I was in their IOP program (submitting UAs 3 times a week). It’s been so hard to function and live, yet I just wanted to get high in his brain.

      My current (wonderful) psychiatrist said she would help me and prescribed me guanfacine last month. Three days ago I told her how bad the guanfacine was, and I think I need a stimulant. I added something along the lines of, “I know you may not give me them given my history but I could take it with my methadone when I come dose at the clinic everyday. I don’t want to keep relapsing on meth and I’m scared I will otherwise.” And she told me we’re going to try adderral.

      For the first time in my life the constant nagging anxiety lizard brain is quiet. I don’t think this is the exact dose/med that’s perfect, but I’m already so much better. I’m not constantly pissed, tired, moving, overly intense. I’m calm. I can drive safely!

      I’ve been trying to get a correct diagnosis and treatment for 12 years on and off. Me becoming addicted to meth ruined my chances of getting stimulants I thought. There are some Dr’s out there who believe their patients, and truly want to do what they can to help. I found one and I love her so much. She’s the first actual psychiatrist/dr who doesn’t think I’m just trying to score.

      Anyone who read this and is going through it, please don’t give up. It may take you a long time to find a dr who will help you but you will eventually. Honestly it’s the best decision I’ve made in my life. I jwanted to share some hope, because I felt so hopeless forever. The stories here in the comments are so relatable. I hope everyone gets the help they deserve <3


    2. Dear Hayley,

      Wow. What perseverance you have shown. I’m glad it is paying off.

      Good for that psychiatrist, for being smart and compassionate enough to understand the complexity here.

      i will just add one note: Adderall is probably the worst choice for recovering addicts. Your psychiatrist should be aware of that.

      It might be that, in the end, Adderall is the best choice for you. But I have good reasons for providing a caution, that it might be wiser to try other options first.


      thank you for sharing your story of hope here,


  18. I have been going to alanon for about a year and i notice the same thing in people who are alcoholics—the out of control and nervousness pacing not being able to think clearly… all signs to me that they are ADHD…with a few other problems…

    Listening to people talk at open AA meeting also hit me..they all stated they felt different from everyone else even as a young child…could it be ADD and ADHD undiagnosed?

    I bet there is a strong link… just my experiences. I am an Adult ADHD person so I am pretty good at spotting one and becoming friends with one in a second. lol.

    Thank you for your information and help on this topic and other information…

  19. Thanks to Katherine for being willing to speak openly about this issue. I know that many ADHD families are deeply affected by addiction. I’ve seen it run through my own family like, well, a sickness. But it’s amazing how many people don’t understand the link, and how vulnerable ADHDers are to it, especially when we are untreated.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story!
    I hope to go to the CHADD convention in New Orleans this year also, Katherine, and I hope I’ll have an opportunity to meet you!


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