My Girlfriend's Recreational Use Of Adderall Almost Ended Our Relationship

by Zara Barrie
Aila Images

Adderall has been used recreationally around me since high school.

Junior year, my friends crushed up their pills and left lines in the bathroom stalls behind the toilet seat. They would leave class, go to the bathroom, snort a line of Adderall and come back to class wild-eyed, raising their hands and interrupting the teachers.

They were slackers turned overachievers with just one sniff!

I did it with them a few times, too, but being the classy woman that I am, even at 17, I preferred to swallow my pills like a lady rather than snort them into my precious nostrils.

In all seriousness, I was probably one of the first generations of kids who used Adderall for "fun."

I was probably one of the first generations of kids who used Adderall for "fun."

I didn't even think of it as a study drug. It was more of a stimulant, a way to get high. It kept you out later, it made you more talkative and it felt "cleaner" than cocaine (or meth, which was popular among suburban high school students in the early 2000s).

The fact that you could get your homework done on it, too, was just icing on the cake, baby.

But my friends and I weren't the homework obsessed types. We were more interested in the fact that you could drink a shit ton of booze on Adderall and not black out.

By the time I was 18, I said no to drugs — prescription pills and others entirely. I had dabbled in them and seen the dark side, and I didn't like it. I'm already prone to depression and anxiety, and taking drugs of any kind just made me feel that much more vulnerable and stripped of a protective shell when they were wearing off.

When I moved to LA, I dated someone who used Adderall recreationally, and of course I wasn't shocked. Everyone I knew in LA did drugs, and Adderall didn't particularly stand out as more dangerous than anything else. (Of course, now I know better).

Lisa*, my brief girlfriend, took Adderall without a prescription all the time. (She bought it off her younger sister. No joke.) She loved the way it made her feel.

"It's like having super powers!" she would tell me as she hyper-organized her closet.

"I can stay out really late tonight because I have Adderall!" she would tell me as we got ready together (perks of being a lez), her eyes gleaming, her pupils dilated so big, she looked like an anime character.

"I love working out on Adderall. I never get tired!" she would tell me, her spandex pants hanging loose on her skinny legs.

Adderall. Adderall. Adderall. She used it for work. She used it for play. She used it to make her personality ~sparkle~.

But the more she used it, the more ungodly annoying she became to me.

The more she used it, the more ungodly annoying she became to me.

It made her talk a million miles a minute. It made her easily irritated; she was always pointing out my fingerprints on the windshield, grinding her teeth at the messes I made.

And the worst part was, it killed her sex drive. And what had initially drawn me to her was her sex appeal.

She had that naturally sexy way about her. She was the kind of sexy that didn't even try to be sexy; she just had sex oozing from her pores. She had that killer slow, confident walk, the kind where the hips enter the room before the woman.

But when Lisa was hopped up on Adderall, she walked quickly and sexlessly. She was like an efficient machine, void of a soul.

Finally, I told her, "The Adderall is making you really annoying. You need to cut that shit out."

"I have ADD," she said, looking out the window, probably counting the leaves on the tree. She couldn't just chill anymore.

"I don't think you have ADD. I knew you before you started taking Adderall. I think you're addicted."

She whipped her head toward me. "I'm NOT addicted," she defensively snarled.

I had already had a ton of experience dating addicts, and she was acting like a text-book addict.

"You are," I said.

"Am NOT."

"I don't like the person you are when you're on Adderall. It's not the same girl."

I lit up a cigarette, exhaled and noticed how the smoke just seemed to hang in the polluted, windless air, not blowing at all. It took away the dramatic, cinematic effect I was trying to have. Oh well, I thought to myself. We're going to have to break up.

A few days later, LIsa came to my apartment and told me she going to stop taking Adderall.

"I think you're right," she said, her voice sounding worried.

She was distracted, mean and extra irritated for a few months, but eventually she came back to herself. And I preferred this distracted, mean, extra irritated version of her over the hopped-up-on-Adderall version of her.

She had her soulfulness back. Best of all, she had her sexuality back.

That was when I realized I don't like to be around Adderall energy. Obviously it's different if you need it, but so many people I know are hopped up on Adderall who clearly don't need to be hopped up on Adderall.

That was when I realized I don't like to be around Adderall energy.

I can instantly sense when someone is using Adderall; they're overly enthusiastic, they don't blink their eyeballs and they're too intense for this already intense world. It feels false, like they're forcing a connection with me. Falseness and forced connections aren't really my thing.

But what I mainly realized is that I'm so sensitive to Adderall energy because it circles me back to high school, when I used Adderall recreationally and would have horrible withdrawals. The anxiety of the Adderall comedown is so palpable to me, I start to feel it with the person and spiral alongside them.

Lisa and I broke up for different reasons (we were too young and gay and fabulous for a longterm relationship), but I learned a pretty important lesson. I learned that if you actually confront someone you love about something they're doing that's pissing you off, they might actually be inclined to change it.

In the past, I had just let things fester inside of me, or rush to dump someone if they did one thing I hated. But I confronted Lisa about her Adderall use, and she stopped taking it.

It gave me big standards for the rest of my relationships. It taught me that I want to only be with people who are willing to hear what I have to say, and take it seriously and make positive changes for our relationship.

So for that, I'm grateful for the whole Adderall nonsense. However, I fear for my entire generation, a generation that feels like they have to have "super powers" just to get by.

* Name has been changed.