Fast forward to a year ago. I am twenty-one with four years sober and now I work at that treatment center that changed my life. I am a chemical dependency counselor and I specialize in adolescent addicts. I am the youngest person to ever hold this position within my company and I aspire to become a psychiatrist one day. Yet even with all of this going for me I have the nagging belief that I am not good enough, school is too hard for me and I am nothing without Adderall. Through a lot of prayer and support from family and friends I enrolled in my first classes at Pierce, the first step on the long road to my MD. Talking to a friend at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting one day, I casually mentioned that I was struggling with school and I noticed that I was self-medicating with excessive amounts of coffee. “Caffeine is a stimulant ADD adults frequently use for self-medication (Kelly and Ramundo).” My friend, who has 22 years sober, shared her experience with ADHD with me. She told me that when she had 11 years sober she felt like she was dying inside and didn’t know what was wrong with her. She gave me some books on the topic and recommended a psychiatrist that specialized in addiction.
I like to call this part of my life “my recovery with ADHD”. I am now taking a non-stimulant medication that assists with some symptoms but I have also made it a point to learn more about my disorder. “It’s difficult to grow up with the hidden handicap of ADD. Many of us feel that we’ve spent our lives disappointing everyone-parents, siblings, teachers, friends and ourselves (Kelly and Ramundo).” The same feeling of relief and identification comes over me when I read about ADHD as when I read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The more I learn the better I feel and the more coping tools I am trained to use. I have learned that medication is just one piece of my recovery; it is not the sole solution. “Finding a drug to manage some of your symptoms can be extremely helpful in your recovery. But you should regard it only as a starting place in your journey, not as the final destination (Kelly and Ramundo).” I have already implemented tools of increased structure, color-coding, studying in 20 minute increments, flash cards, etc. I am learning what works for me and how I work, so to speak.
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