What´s It Like To Be Sober With ADHD?

What is it like to be completely sober?

I would like to start this by saying that I AM NOT completely sober. I take a mind-altering substance every single day to help me live a normal life as well as recreational Psychedelic drugs from time to time because they FASCINATE me.

What do I take? I take Strattera, (Atomoxetine), which is a Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor. This is a medication designed for people with ADHD who are expected to have an imbalance of Noradrenaline.

Noradreline, amongst other things is responsible for our fight or flight response.

I have however passed through various stages of (almost) complete sobriety.

Complete sobriety I think is very nearly impossible. Everyone has their vice, starting with the biggest killer in the world…

SUGAR

Followed by the next most popular poison of choice

CAFFEINE

Followed by

ALCOHOL

Followed by

NICOTINE

Mind Altering Drugs

After these come all of the “bad” drugs. The other drugs that all have very similar mind-altering effects but are considered damaging to society and thus illegal.

At least one of the “big 4” is freely available to purchase or consume in almost every part of the world and they are the “socially accepted” drugs – but by far amongst the most powerful.

I do not drink alcohol, I do not smoke cigarettes, I stopped consuming caffeine for the past 6 months, I do not use cocaine. I do however use Psychedelic drugs from time to time.

ADHD
One lucky person received this in a letter I wrote them as part of my 100 magic letters project. Click here to read about my letter writing project
July 2020

So What Does It Feel Like To Be Sober With ADHD?

When I came back from Brazil I had come off my medication and was going somewhat crazy. Read about Strattera Withdrawal here.

Strattera can take up to 2 months to take effect in your body and so the changes that it makes are slow but quite drastic on a neurological and physical level. Coming off it was horrible.

For long term prescription drugs such as this it is highly unrecommended to suddenly stop, because although it is not a physically addictive drug, (there are no physical withdrawals or cravings), it does change how your body functions and so there can be a lot of side effects.

Side Effects From Stopping Strattera

The first few days I noticed my anxiety levels shoot through the roof – partly due to the fear of uncertainty – but partly due to the rise in Noradrenaline.

Within a fairly short space of time I started to feel more and more out of control. When I am “sober” and not medicated I feel like I have adrenaline surging through my body.

Noradrenaline and ADHD

I can feel it pulsing and if I try and sit still my muscles get cramped and agitated and I get restless leg syndrome. Some part of my body is constantly moving, twitching, shaking. Sometimes I will be sat “still” and my entire body will be vibrating.

It can be exciting, it feels like you are supercharged and unstoppable. It feels like being on a stimulant drug such as Cocaine or Amphetamine.

However, being “high” like this all day causes me to be agitated and anxious. I talk incessantly, blurt things out, say totally inappropriate things because the “filter” that the Strattera gives me goes.

Those are the irritating parts but not the dangerous parts. The dangerous part is that I start WANTING danger. I start to search for any possible way to occupy my mind and give me pleasure.

Anything that will stimulate me and excite me. I start craving alcohol, I start taking drugs, I start looking for sex, I start arguments, I start doing absolutely anything that will distract me from myself. I WANT the danger and I want the stimulation and I do anything to find it.

I got through this after a couple of months of insanity and then went to speak to a private therapist for the first time as I needed help and answers for some problems going on in my life.

Getting A Diagnosis From A Therapist

When I explained to her that I had been using recreational drugs from time to time she explained to me that it is not possible to give any sort of accurate evaluation until I had passed 3 months of sobriety – as a sober mind is a mind that is free from any sort of drug.

This made total sense and so I decided to stop absolutely everything that was mind altering in any way. I stopped having sex, I stopped taking any sort of drug, I stopped consuming caffeine, and then I even stopped consuming sugar by living off Huel (a vegan, organic, meal replacement shake), and then a diet almost 100% free of added sugars.

Sugar and Caffeine Withdrawal

Quitting sugar and caffeine was absolute hell and made me realise how savagely addictive these substances are. The withdrawal symptoms are horrible and the depression that they cause is far worse than that of any other drug withdrawal I have experienced. Caffeine withdrawal for me lasted roughly a month and drinking caffeine was on my mind most of the time.

The whole point of this story is that by being as close to 100% sober as possible I was forced to see myself fully unmasked, without the added confidence and stimulation of caffeine, without the buzz of sugar, without the exciting thoughts from psychedelics, without the affection of sex. I was forced to experience life without any unnatural “buzz”.

hiding behind a mask
Trying to look as Bane-esque as possible in my new MMA helmet
May 2020

Facing Your Problems With No Mask

I was faced head on with even more personal problems and insights into my personality and toxic behaviour traits. There was literally nowhere to run, and I found myself struggling to get out of bed as it was all too much.

I was trying to stimulate myself in healthy ways, by going to creative events – poetry, comedy etc. and meeting new and interesting people. I was exercising, trying to get work done, and trying to be a normal human being.

Sadly at the end of the day I was still miserable.

I was going through some family and relationship problems at the time as well and so this obviously didn’t help but I realise that I was, and have been for a long time– DEPRESSED

When I realised this, it made total sense and seemed obvious as day. I had always thought I couldn’t be depressed because only depressed people get depressed. But obviously I was one of those depressed people.

Sane people don’t drink until they throw up or pass out every time starting at the age of 11. This was actually something that my Therapist had to make me understand.

Using Drugs To Escape Reality

Depressed / people suffering with personality disorders / identity issues turn to drugs as an escape method. This of course does not mean that all people that take drugs have issues. Drugs are a wonderful pleasure of life so long as you use them responsibly. The tough part is using them responsibly.

The more troubled a person is, or the more toxic their environment the more likely they are to turn to drugs.

In my case these problems stemmed from the inability to control my brain and my thoughts. I have had major personality and identity issues my whole life and this has only started becoming clearer very recently through therapy.

On that cliff-hanger I will end the article. I have been writing more about my discoveries through therapy but that is for another day so stay tuned!

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Conor ADHD

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