Highway to Hell: Untreated Depression, Anxiety & ADHD Drove Me to Addiction

By James Tilley

I always knew something was wrong but could not figure it out. I had trouble relating to others and making friends. I hated school and I was miserable. At age six I was tested at school and with doctors. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety and dyslexia. In those days, these disorders were not widely accepted. I started meds and counseling. And I attended special education classes and even an after-school study program.

I felt alienated at school, which made everything worse. Eventually, I stopped counseling and doctors. It seemed like everyone knew I hated school so I gave up. I never studied or did homework. I was so disorganized, I don’t know how I made it through grade school. I really think they passed me because my dad was the dentist in our small town and knew everyone.

I started looking for ways to feel better, and I think my problems started with taking Benadryl, an allergy medication. Between that and caffeine, I found I could control my moods most days. Soon I was taking white crosses every day – it was basically legal speed. Then weed entered the picture and I discovered Xanax too.

By the age of 16, I had dropped out school and was using drugs daily to cope with life. Eventually, I was taking two bottles of white crosses every three days and smoking weed daily.

When I was in my twenties, I had an accident. I fell off a ten-foot deck and broke my back! This led to my discovery of hydrocodone. It was a perfect fit for me. It helped both my physical and mental pain. I felt great, had more energy, was more social, I could focus and even started make friends. All was going well and I even got my G.E.D.

But I did not know how addictive it was. I didn’t pay attention to how much I was taking. What followed was twelve years of hell! I overdosed a few times. I spent time in jail and psychiatric hospitals. Still, when I got out, I had to have it or I couldn’t function. By this point I was taking 25 to 30 hydrocodone a day. I even spent time homeless, all to get my fix.

Because of my broken, back the drugs were easy to get. I had three to four different docs and each one was giving me 120 lorcet plus.

Finally, after years, I realized my addiction was killing me. I tried Methadone for two years, but I swore I’d never do that again. I had to go into detox to get off of it. It took three months! Finally, I found suboxone, which has helped me remain clean for seven years.

After my brain had time to heal, I decided to revisit my mental troubles. I found a great psychiatrist and therapist. He told me that 70% of his patients who went undiagnosed for ADHD, either as children or as adults, became addicts. They needed something to deal with the sadness, loneliness, and anxiety.

He was willing work with me but there were conditions. I had to sign a contract agreeing to drug testing and pill counts. I had to give him permission to talk with my doctor so he could monitor my suboxone usage. He put me on Vyvanse, klonopin and Zoloft and reduced my suboxone dosage. Now I have better control and can choose the times I need to be focused the most.

I am on disability because of my back, epilepsy, and mental problems. Therapy helps to deal with feelings. Especially the ones you don’t know where they are coming from. It helped me learn live a normal life.

I’m 41 I have my family back. I have friends. I am happy and now I know where I’m going. Now, I help others online who suffer duel diagnosis of addiction and ADHD. I keep my house clean and organized and remember to do things I’m supposed to. I can start and finish things.

If this sound like someone you love, even it they’re a mess like I used to be, please know they can change and contribute. Now that I’ve got my head straight, I find helping others brings me what I was missing for so long. That is a reason for me to stay on meds, take them as prescribed and also stay in therapy. Helping people who are where I used to be feels like what I’m here for now. At the end of day, I feel content and happy.

I’m even planning on starting a non-profit group specifically dealing with people facing the duel diagnosis of ADHD & addiction. I’d like to help them get care from mental health professionals.

All this to say that, no matter how bad it looks, keep fighting. Believe me, if I can do, this anyone can. Thank you for reading my story. If I can make a difference for just one person, I will be happy!

    • Angie
    • March 11, 2020

    My husband is going through the same exact thing! He tore his ACL and his meniscus and got major knee surgery and we were building our own house at the time and my husband got a blood clot after the surgery just took pain pill and got right back to working on it. He really didn’t let himself recover. I had no idea about it until we tried getting pregnant. It’s a long long story. I got him help and he has taken every antidepressant then none of them have worked for him. He was tested for ADHD again as an adult. So doctors will not give him medication for his ADHD. He gave up and won’t take any antidepressants is only taking Suboxone and a blood pressure pill. He cannot function anymore and we are losing everything he has a hard time getting up for work. He feels numb about everything. He wants to leave me because he says I deserve someone else because he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. I hate watching him go through this. I sent him this article but I know he’s going to stay that he tried to get help and no one will help them and he gave up. He absolutely thanks he will never get the help he needs. He was a very ambitious person. Feeling very successful and lovable and sweet and a prince and shining armor! He has a huge heart and a very awesome inside and out. Still a good dad. He hates himself and is having bad thoughts in his mind. I pray that something kicks on or turn something on in his brain when he reads this. He is very stubborn and he’ll just say aren’t you a lucky guy you got help. I am so happy for you that you found help! Best wishes to you! Coming from Red Lion Pennsylvania!

      • Ashley
      • March 27, 2020

      Please if the author of this original letter can reach out and connect with me I would be so grateful. I need help and it may save another life. Thank you.

    • Nanna
    • November 29, 2019

    Maybe maybe you can help me I used to take some Oxys I’ve always had a bad childhood so I’m sure I’ve had the 80 Steve anxiety maybe bipolar I got issues so too much lost too much of a young age has just recently lost my whole family I was always an outgoing person besides all those problems but now since I lost my last sibling I’ve been staying in my house for over three years before that I was an outgoing person the reason I believe this is it’s because of the Suboxone I believe it’s put in of veil over my life I don’t feel nothing I don’t do nothing I have no interest I basically want to die but I have two children that’s why I don’t die and I don’t know what to do I actually really need help I need to get help you have to talk to people and you have to leave your home which I don’t I’m laying in bed and smoking cigarettes all day I figure that’s really going to get me I used to have the perfect body and now it’s all just turning to Mush my bones hurt I’m only 49 years olds and I had such a good life coming up besides growing up watching my dad beat ant rape my mother daily. but this Suboxone I really feel it took everything away from me and it’s so hard to get off of I’ve tried a few different times and because the detox is atleast a month I always fail. Would tak it it because I had to feel okay I had to function it’s not just like a week it’s like a month or two months of scratching your skin and sweating and restless leg and all the all that stuff that comes with it maybe you can help me you said you wanted to help people maybe you can help me because I’m wasting away in my home 3 years 3 years! I’m telling g you this suboxone it getti g into my bones. It took my joy, my happiness. My confidence. It’s very bad and I’m afraid I’m gonna die from laying in bed mostly.i always had my twin brothers and my mom to turn to and over the late 3and a half yeats they each died horrified deaths thsy I witnessed, so ptsd is in my blood, or it’s been awake from my abusive childhood. I use to have it all to gather 2 babies I took them to every activity driving to dance 6 days a week all hours, I raised my girls to be respectful you g women they dontcskoke or do drugs, as a single mother I put them bother through college for master degrees. Then menopause came so I dysyed on some pills went to fo and got the miracle drug! Suboxone. Worst mistake. They never said how hard it would be to get off them and never told me they were addictive. Melting these strips under my tounge for all these years I’ve lost alot of teeth. My teeth are rotting. A few years ago I was known for my smile and my perfect whirervthan white teeth . This adds to my depression and seclusion. Help me of u can in any way. Another things subs changed me o was always healthy either at the gum. My basement gum, walking 8 miles riding my bike. Now nothing. I’m looseing myself and I am very much alone due to ignoring friends and family. They had to give up. I’m ashamed to talk to anyone I know, and for them to see me
    Thetes gonna be a reaction cause the difference from then to now is crazy. Anyway u can help me. I was gonna ho into a 40 day to get off subs. I live on so, my and my insurance only covers this place. I checked it out and it’s not safe for me. Very bad reviews. They dont care they just want the money. I dined up for a few scholarship for 30 day detox with dual diagnoses. But I didnt thsmthing. Please let me know if there anything I can do. Sincerely C,B p.s sorry for all the spelling errors, and I wish you a beautiful wonderful life

    • Holly
    • October 11, 2019

    Thank you for your story. I have been going through a lot lately and hearing that other people have gone through the same things is making me feel better. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. It went untreated though, a combination of bad parenting and being poor. I had always just been told I didn’t really have it and never really thought about it. I had extreme depression and anxiety throughout high school. I skipped school and basically hated myself, for 2 weeks I pretended to go to school but hid in my house and stayed in bed all day. I tried so hard to stay organized and do my homework but I always managed to fail. I was very smart in school so I was able to maintain a’s b’s and c’s. I got into college and it was expected that I go get a degree, make lots of money, and be successful like my sister. Really my mom just wanted me out of the house and not to be her responsibility anymore. So college was a miserable fail. I was so depressed and had so much anxiety I could not get out of bed to go to class. I had trouble with friendships. I ultimately dropped out went back home and got a job as a bartender at 18 at a pool hall that only served beer in the bottle. From there you know the story, started smoking cigarettes, then weed, then coke, then opiates. I mostly did coke though, that was my drug of choice. It makes sense now that I know it was me self medicating my ADHD. I was definitely a coke head but was surrounded by other drug addicts day in and day out doing every kind of drug around, by some miracle never did heroin. I was an addict for about 5 years. I was honestly pretty suicidal and thought that nothing I really did mattered because one day soon I would just kill myself. Somehow I kept my shit together and held down an office job for a couple of years. I got laid off and was on unemployment, faced with the possibility of having to move back in with my dad I did the unthinkable, I joined the Navy. My Naval career was obviously shit and instead of doing drugs which I would be tested for I just started abusing alcohol. I hated being in the Navy so much that I got married and pregnant to get out. My son saved my life though and I quit drinking and smoking. I was honorably discharged from the Navy so I used my GI Bill to start college round 2. Everything was going well until it wasn’t. I was able to hold it down for my first 2 years and by the third year I started having my old ADHD issues filled with anxiety about all of the stuff I had to do but not being able to do it. I started seeing a therapist and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and was given zoloft 75mg and buspirone 5mg twice a day and ativan as needed. . At the same time I was having tons of behavior problems with my son. He was seeing a therapist and I was being told he had ADHD. Of course because of what I was told about it when I was younger by my family I rejected the idea, nonetheless, I started researching it. I finally decided that he definitely had ADHD and that it wasn’t what I though it was. There is so much stigma around ADHD it’s ridiculous. I went against everyone I know and started him on meds. His behavior problems almost disappeared over night, and yes he was still himself. ADHD doubters like to tell you that they turn into a different person, such bullshit. So now I’m a senior in college about to graduate, like I said I’m really smart so I decided to get my degree in accounting and get my CPA license. I have a job lined up for after I graduate and I have my CPA study materials. I started experiencing the most anxiety I have ever felt in my life. I woke up everyday for a week filled with absolute dread. I honestly thought I would need to be hospitalized it was so bad. It was making me physically sick. I had so much pressure on myself to study for the CPA exams and do my school work and I had plenty of time to do it but I just couldn’t. I started abusing alcohol again drinking 2 bottles of wine a night and knew I needed to get my shit together. Finally I got an appointment with my prescribing Dr. and she finally said it sounds like ADHD, have you ever been on ADHD meds, it runs in your family you know because your son has it. It was like a head exploding moment. I was like, as a matter of fact, I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child but never treated or medicated. So I began 30 mg of vyvanse about 2 weeks ago. The first week was seriously life changing. I was able to complete my school work and study for the CPA exams with the only issue being that I still have a lot of anxiety, so I have been taking an ativan everyday with the vyvanse so far. I am having anxiety because I am actually doing my work and I know I will be successful and get my CPA license. So now I am here, the 30 mg stopped working as well after the first week so I need a higher dose but I am worried about abusing the medicine because of my past history with cocaine. This week I started taking 2 30 mg vyvanse one in the morning one in the afternoon. I wish I had never done cocaine because the feeling of being on coke is so similar to the feeling of being on ADHD meds, without the terrible suicidal withdraw, so I am scared that I will abuse them but I need them. Now I am here, taking 75mg of zoloft and 30 mg vyvanse (2x a day) and 1 mg ativan and I do not know what to do, but I’m thinking about coming off the zoloft to see if all I need is ADHD meds. I can’t stop thinking about all of the things that happened to me in my childhood and as an early adult, all of the issues I had and all of the things that I was blamed for that were because I had ADHD. That along with the complete lack of support I had is making me crazy, I can’t let it go but talking to my family about it will only bring them pain. I feel like my life is so fucked up right now but at the same time from the outside looking in I am about to get my bachelor’s degree with enough hours to get my CPA license and I already have a job at the 5th largest public accounting firm in the world why can’t I be happy and not just full of constant anxiety and worry over EVERYTHING. I don’t know that I can even talk to anyone in my life about this, none knows about the true level of depravity my life was when I was on drugs. I keep hoping that at some point my life will settle down, I’ll get my meds right, and then get in some kind of routine but I’m worried my life is always going to be like this, one mountain to overcome after another. It feels better just to post this. Thank you.

    • G.
    • July 23, 2019

    Wow reading your back story makes me feel like I’m reading my own. I wish I had the tools to help me through this tough journey. Maybe I can reach out to more people like me who suffer from both ADD/Anxiety and maybe even dyslexia. I have a shit ton of things I need to work on and noticed as I get older and by older, I mean late 30’s I am noticing an even more severe lack of attention. People will talk to me and its as if I am not even there because they have to repeat themselves. I know how annoying that must be to be around someone whom you have to constantly repeat yourself to. My dad is like 60% deaf and refuses to wear a hearing aid and due to this everyone that talks to him including his family has to deal with having to repeat the same thing over and over again. Anyway, I am veering off the subject matter a bit sorry. If anyone reading this has any suggestions or knows of any support groups in the north jersey area, please let me know. I appreciate any constructive feedback from this great resource. thanks

    • Tom
    • July 21, 2019

    Hopefully ur story will help me talk to the doctor, cause the same shit is going on with me and no one is listening,,,,,, thank u for telling ur story,,

    • John
    • July 11, 2019

    ADHD, Sleep Apnea, and Addiction over here. The first two have been diagnosed within the last year. I’ve been an addict for 16 years and in recovery for 14 years, with little to no success. I feel like these 3 conditions created a mountain of instability in my life and why I fail to get sober time and time again. It is beyond frustrating and has driven me to the point of depression and despair more than I can count. If nothing else, it’s good to know I am not alone.

    I was just recently diagnosed with ADHD and I am pretty overwhelmed with where to start. Any help would e greatly appreciated.

    • Jason
    • June 18, 2019

    Some of your story sound a little similar to mine diagnosed with ADHD when I was seven or eight only got maybe a year or two of treatment the side effects from the Ritalin caused anger outbursts and then depression for an hour after the outburst and this was back in the 1980s and the description that I got about ADHD was hyperactive and not able to pay attention to things well I could pay attention to things that I liked for most the time I didn’t even believe that I had it I ended up living with my mom and dad for 26 years and though I know they loved me and did what they did cuz maybe somewhere they thought it was the best but allowed me to do drugs pot smoke with my dad and mom and of course that turned into the worst things till I was in my twenties when I discovered opiates and the opiates do exactly what a lot of you say make you feel good make you feel like you want to do things accomplished things and it’s up until now and I’m 40 are what have been the most successful with the least side effects other than the ever-increasing tolerance cost and legality also diagnosed with moderate reoccurring major depression anxiety and just recently had a doctor say to me that maybe you have a mild form of autism never really fit in with people my age was tortured by other kids when I was in school have been terribly afraid of people been through 30 + jobs in 20 years never been able to hold a job for a year recently filed for disability because I have two children and am back at home living with Mom and Dad after a 10-year relationship ended after her cheating on me three times I can understand how hard I must have been to live with but during the time I was with her is when I really towards the end went to the doctor got diagnosed so I can’t totally forgive her for just bailing out on me when a lot of what was going on wasn’t entirely my fault I’ve read recently that that untreated ADHD is one of the worst most Dylan debilitating things a person can live with I have been prescribed all the non amphetamine ADHD drugs none do anything for me tried me on adderal just recently and him having the same side effects as when I was a kid irritability and severe anger outbursts and then not being able to get over that anger and it just lasts for an hour where I just want to go curl up in a ball alone until it wears off don’t know what I’m going to do if I don’t get this disability I have two kids I have to support I can’t stay with my mom and dad my mom is the worst blames me thanks it’s all my fault that my wife is where it’s at right now constantly wants to interfere in between me and my children and yet she’s the one who allowed me to go untreated she’s the one who allowed me to do the drugs and now wants to act like it’s my fault that I’m where I am then it really rips my guts out so if anyone knows anything Mandela funny fact that I actually heard from the doctor on a side note is that he wasn’t surprised that the opiates helped and said that they were in the works on some kind of an opioid treatment for ADHD bipolar so I guess we’ll see

    • Nathan Caveney
    • May 9, 2019

    Thank you for this. I have ADHD and social anxiety. I am a senior in high school and I got addicted to video games when I was 10 since my brain makes want to distract myself all the time. I’ve had 4 jobs, been fired from 3 of them already. I have no close friends anymore, and my parents are desperately trying to help me become independent. I struggle to get my school work done. I’m on anxiety medication but not adhd medication. Things were ok when I was running a lot but I’ve just never been in good enough shape to exercise for 2 hours a day, which is what kids with adhd my age are supposed to do. I know a kid who is a great runner. He has the hyperactive form of adhd. I have the inattentive form. Even when I did exercise a lot and get my schoolwork done it was hard to sleep. The last 2 weeks have been especially difficult. I get about 5 hours of sleep if I’m lucky now. I wish there were more inspiring stories of people with adhd and anxiety. I’m just trying to get by at this point.

    • Meghan R.
    • April 28, 2019

    I’m 30 years old and this story describes me also. I had known something was wrong with me when I started grade four but ignored it . When I got to junior high I was really struggling and even when I got in high school . Turns out I had adhd since the time I noticed but I never got diagnosed until January 2019 . Growing up my parents were always telling me that I can do better that I got to study more but it didn’t matter I was still gonna struggle. Now I started college back in September of 2018 I done excellent with bookkeeping but then Everything else I struggled and I’m still struggling even tho since I got diagnosed they put me on a IEP plan but it doesn’t seem to help much. The teacher doesn’t explain things to help me understand I almost need a modified course load for my program but I doubt there is a college or university that does that … they also don’t have anyone that’s there to help student that struggle all they can do is give extra time on assignments tests and exams and give you a quiet room to yourself to do the tests and exams but when it comes to actually understanding what is being taught i feel like the school don’t care at all. I need the course taught to me differently I. Order for me to understand what I’m doing and how to do the work properly . I feel like giving up on school because I seriously don’t know where I’m going to get help to help me through the course . Like I want to go to school I want to succeed but when there is no support for people like me I feel like I’m worthless I’m no good for nothing and that I will never get accomplish anything or become anything because of this disability . I have ADHD , Anxiety, depression, and with the ADHD a learning disability and I seriously don’t know what to do and the school don’t care and don’t know what to do for me . This makes me even more depressed and it shouldn’t be ! The school is suppose to help students and provide for those struggling with disabilities but I’m getting none of that even with the shitty IEP “plan”
    On top of that , I also struggled with addiction. It started out back in 2012 when I got into a bad accident I was prescribed Percocet for my pain I also found out that it gave me energy and numbed my pain of mental and physical injuries . Sometimes I’d even take more just to get the high and numb myself all of this eventually lead me to using other drugs like cocaine and dilaudid which I shot up . In 2017 I seemed help to get off the drugs by starting a Methadone treatment I’m still currently on methadone but slowly coming off it monthly I didn’t know tho at the time that this all stemmed from my undiagnosed ADHD depression and anxiety.
    Since being diagnosed it’s been a even more struggle like trying to remember things like appts, getting things done , etc I recently missed a ultrasound for my gall bladder that I’ve been having serious issues with lately so now I have to go back to my doctor and get him to send on the referral again now I’d have to wait god knows how long for another appointment and more gall bladder attacks that have yet to come .
    I’ve joined support groups on Facebook but I need more and don’t know where to go or where to start.

    • Rebecca
    • April 15, 2019

    Greetings to all I very much enjoyed reading all of your comments and stories I too have suffered with ADHD since the age of eight I was put on meds Ritalin and then as I got older they changed it to adderal by the time I was sixteen I learned that if I took extra adderal is it would give me a high and I would be up all night I also learned that I could sell it and make money so that’s what I did so of course I started doing worse in school and my doctors up to my meds until I got caught selling them then I was put on a antidepressant called Wellbutrin after that I was a victim of rape and the guy got 15 years in prison time has passed and I am now a mother of three and I’ve just given a baby up for adoption due to a domestic violence situation and now I’m suffering from postpartum depression anxiety and add I can’t remember once ever having held a job for more than six months in my life I’m currently in a place where I have the ability to seek psychiatric treatment and get properly diagnosed I’m not sure what I have bipolar depression anxiety I’m not sure but I have read that a lot of patients with ADHD to follow with anxiety bipolar and depression with ADHD be in the main cause…. hopefully this works because I am a 33 year old mother trying to work we make a living but some days are harder than others sometimes I just want to stay in bed all day and then sometimes I can work a 20-hour shift it just depends on my mood I definitely can’t wait for the future Inc what kind of help I can get God bless you all and thank you for sharing your stories it gives me hope and gives me a push to go seek treatment

    • Kelly
    • November 28, 2018

    Wow, it’s amazing how similar your story is to mine. The sad thing is I never knew either and I feel like so much of the sadness and struggles could have been avoided had I known earlier. Thank you very much for sharing. Sometimes it’s just nice to kmow that we aren’t alone in this.

      • Mark Schultz
      • March 31, 2019

      Thank you for your story. I have a 24-year-old son who is currently in jail, has been in and out of jail, and in prison. He was diagnosed with ADHD in his freshman year of high school was on an IEP program through high school. As time went by he began self-medicating, first with marijuana, then with oxycodone which led to heroin addiction. Approximately two years ago he went on Adderall. As long as he is on Adderall he seems not to have any problem with his addiction. I am very interested in helping you start an ADHD/addiction program. The criminal justice system needs to recognize dual diagnosis and the proper treatment for it. Simply taking someone who has ADHD/and an addiction and locking them up in isolation in jails and prisons only makes the situation worse. The justice system does not understand this nor seem to care too. Feel free to email me as I am in the throes of starting a movement for this cause as I am writing you.

        • Bridget Denton
        • April 25, 2019

        I too have a son, 21, who’s been in & out of trouble..diagnosed adhd as a child, self medicates depression/anxiety (since TWELVE) but cant take stimulants, too much temptation & he abuses them. So, i don’t know HOW to help him, but very much agree, people do NOT understand these kids (&adults) self medicating & becoming addicts..so tired of people being judgemental..there NEEDS to be awareness made.😔

    • LHP Sammy
    • September 5, 2018

    Income. Disability , money. That’s the true debilitating revolving chaotic cycle that prolongs the downward spiral of mental illness , actual doctors diagnosing,treating, and here’s one ,“follow up” with the mental patient . It’s a joke. In Florida anyway. The system is designed to fail. I never believed suicide was intentional. Just a cowardly way out , until I found myself considering it for even one second?!? I’m diagnosed bp1, adhd,chronic pain & anxiety,ptsd, sexual abuse survivor, and my community health clinic cut me off ,after 3 yrs , met the actual doctor for first time the day I was discharged on a tv monitor .my med rx prescriber was no longer working there. And I was told, “Unfortunately you’re scope of needs exceeds what the “Outlook Clinic” offers here and we recommend that you seek private mental health services. “. ??!!? So here is a 30 day supply of Xanax and a the last mood stabilizer , (a new one I haven’t tried yet) no need to follow up ok? Ok. That was over a month ago I didn’t fill the stabilizer and my Xanax were stolen 2 days after I scraped the $ together to fill it , I’m about 5?maybe 7 idk really, off my meds and I’m devastated, disappointed and destitute emotionally physically defeated. The system is broken. But I will persevere, Knowing I SAMMY, am my only advocate. 9/5/18.

      • Holly
      • March 4, 2019

      THANK YOU, SO much for writing/posting this. 🙏🏼☺️ I can imagine how difficult it was for you sharing this .❤️
      Idk your age, but being a 48yo wife & mother of 3 young adults, a ‘70’s born kid’, the first generation where ADD/ADHD that NO ONE took seriously (or even knew/or cared, HOW TO HELP ME. My ‘labels’ growing up: Inattentive, too talkative, disruptive in class, ‘spacey’, distracted too easily, always interrupting others, lazy, no focus, no drive, ALWAYS LATE, etc… And the WORST of it – BEING TOLD BY PEOPLE (even Doctors), that ADD/ADHD is ‘JUST A CRUTCH’. Add hearing those words REPEATEDLY said to /about you—‘Self Loathing’ sets in, manifests & takes root.
      I FINALLY-by the Grace of God-found a Phycologist that TOOK ME SERIOUSLY.
      Nutshell: after taking a GeneSight DNA test (entirely based on MY own DNA), we found out which meds would/should work (or not work) for my biological makeup. My first feeling, relief. However, hearing for the FIRST time EVER – that more & more studies/research/proof show that: 1) Untreated or not properly treated Adults w/ ADD/ADHD develop Manic Depression, etc. 2) My ‘symptoms’ were being treated, NOT the SOURCE.

      Fortunately, w/ my new Doc, (who btw is the 1st person to take me seriously & WANT TO HELP & ADVOCATE for me), I’m believe I’m finally on the right path.

      ANYONE, who has ADD/ADHD, PLEASE 🙏🏼, talk with/find someone you can genuinely trust & NOT judge you!
      And please—DON’T WAIT & think ‘it’ll go away’ – This is a (HIGHLY overlooked) disease; it WILL manefest & emotionally eat you from the inside out.
      For over 40yrs I had just accepted that, ‘This is who I am, I’m just an idiot’.
      But now I KNOW it’s not. I’m created & meant for SO MUCH more than ‘this demon’ in my head – And SO ARE YOU! 🙏🏼❤️
      Blessings & healing to you all. ❤️😌

        • owoscreams
        • November 30, 2019

        I’m 17 and I had the labels you had and I have been medicated since I was in kindergarten (I think) and I have still not found something to keep me good enough to be a “normal” human. Not only do I have ADHD, but I also have anxiety about pretty much anything ((talking to people in person or online, death, etc)), depression, and low self-esteem. I recently got put on an IEP at school for my senior year and it seems like it doesn’t help at all. In fact, now that it’s in place people think “I SHOULD be doing better” or something and that currently doesn’t help with how I feel about myself and how I feel about where I should be in life. It feels nice to know that some people feel the same way, that I’m not the only one feeling this way. ❤

  1. Reply

    Thanks for this story!

    • A. Ayau
    • July 28, 2018

    My son 21 just lost his job. He has had 6 jobs and 2 he was let go because of drugs on the job and 4 jobs for attitude. He has been clean from drugs for six months and started to feel good but just yesterday his lady boss let him go after telling him the day before that he was a good worker. I have known he has ADDH from school but never put him on medication. Please suggest where do I start with medical help.

      • Milo Ganson
      • October 18, 2018

      You knew he has ADHD but never had it treated? No wonder he’s doing so bad. You just answered your own question.

        • Holly
        • March 4, 2019

        That’s NOT the answer you give a ‘mother’ who’s probably struggled ‘HOW’ to help her son.
        You sound just like the same people that say ‘ADD/ADHD is a CRUTCH’…and have shamed us all our lives.

        We don’t need to be attacked anymore by people who HAVE NO CLUE of what’s inside our heads.

          • Shantel
          • August 12, 2019

          This is all what I’ve had for years and my 2o yr old daughter I also was told to put her on ritalin but was afraid and had no knowledge. I guess it is my fault now she cant keep a job hasn’t finished high school and has been on drugs.its hard to help someone when u have the same exact thing.

    • stefania.castelli
    • July 16, 2018

    Well, more and less the same story.
    if you add an HIV/HCV infection (HCV, fortunately, resolved with a painful year and a half of Interpheron+Ribavirin therapy in 2009), you get my biography.
    Nobody, nevertheless, diagnosed my ADHD before 2011.
    From 16 (when I knew for the first time I.V. Heroin) to 47 (2011) I scored a total of 9 rehabs (various kinds of) and several, methadone detox interventions.
    Since no XR formulations were available in Italy, back in 2011 (only Ritalin 10 and only for kids) I changed continent.
    Concerta 54 was available in Switzerland at that time, but it was dramatically complicated and expansive to get it.
    So I moved to México.
    Thanks to our Mexican cousins, I’mn still alive to tell you…..
    In 2013, XR medications containing MPH were introduced for the first time in the Italian pharmacopeia.
    Four months ago, I had to come back to Italy to support my mother, now in her 70s.
    I brought with me Concerta and Adderall XR (very easy to obtain in México).
    Now my supply ended up and on Thursday (7/19/2018) I have a doctor’s appointment in Pisa (400 km from Venice, where I live).
    He told me by phone that actually MPH XR formulations are available under the brands “Equasym” or “Medikinet” (even if it’s still unclear if pills/capsules containing more than 40 mgs are already available in Italy).
    I’m very happy to have found ADDA and all its resources on the web.
    Hopefully, I’ll be able to live in my native country with my needed/required/loved meds and a powerful group of peers like you.


    • Sandesh Sanjeev Phalke
    • June 19, 2018

    Hi I am Sandesh I am 22 years old young adult
    I am going through sever mood swing sleepless nights anxiety
    I am getting addict to smoking
    I had a break up I can’t get through I am doing good in a case?Mics but can’t focus and make to the mark
    I have serious insomnia and dillusion

    • CJ
    • May 24, 2018

    Hello I’m CJ 28 female, I never give out my real name to anyone unless it’s for my professional photography business.
    Anyways this Sounds a lot like me. 6yrs old diagnose and place to take 30-60mg of ritilan till high school, then went to 60mg of adderall till abt age 23. After I turned 22yrs is when they started doing the whole drug testing and well I smoke weed to sleep, eat, anxiety, depression. Well in iowa it’s illegal and I hate downers and pills period. I was force to go cold turkey by my doctor there was no lowering me off it safely.
    Later ended reporting the doctor due to a full 3 months detoxing of 18yrs of taking adhd meds. I’m now 28yrs old and I’ve been in one roll over car accident and 4 months after that in another car accident which made me lose 3 days of my life. From being in server accidents I developed ptsd, more anxiety, server depression, short anger/rage issues and Hidratitus Suppurative chronic pain. I work 7-8 different jobs a year cause I get bored w one n get another job.
    During age 23-28 I went to smoking meth and it was just like adderall but not healthy and very illegal. But I’m refusing to quit smoking weed here in Iowa sense it helps me better than any downer pills. I can’t take anti-depressions due to; too many attempts on killing myself.
    I’m a shy person with new people horrible social anxiety with crowds, but if I smoke weed I’m my normal hyper awkward adhd CJ. I like my adhd disorder I like spending time alone with myself.
    If I had the money I would move in a heart beat to south of Colorado where I can smoke weed legally and not worry about being charge by the pigs. But it will never happen in iowa to many stuck up mf. Sorry got mad for a second. I hate Iowa.
    I manage to barely pass high school probly due to family working for the state n government. Got my college degree in IT Networking after jumping around to different colleges. Don’t do a college that has 30+ people the professor will only focus on 7 students. Very grateful my folks paid for my colleges.
    Life is hard and Iowa just sucks only way to get the medical marijuana card you have to have only epilepsy, stupid.
    This is very long I don’t talk much I keep everything to myself and in my journal.
    Thank you,

    • Jayson Desjardins
    • May 12, 2018

    It sounds like your describing me I’m still struggling to this day glad to hear you found away hopefully I find mine soon

    • Sharon
    • April 4, 2018

    Congrats to you for all you have been through, your recovery and the courage to share it so others can learn!

    My son age 9 was recently diagnosed and we are doing neurofeedback as a first try to address the ADHD brain. We didn’t know until he had a brain map done that a secondary issue was his brain never shut down enough to allow proper sleep so he was always lethargic and needed constant help for simply getting ready for school and now we know why. This journey has led me to know my husband has ADHD but went his whole life (now age 48) with no diagnosis or treatment and self-medicates in our basement (3 drinks per day, chews tobacco, smokes, sleeping pills, etc.) but still can work. I love your story for giving us hope and showing us we have a chance. Thank you!

    • Gem
    • February 28, 2018

    And how inspiring that you have conquered all this. I appreciate the challenge and strength it must take. Also coming off methadone in three months is amazing well done.

    • Gem
    • February 28, 2018

    Hi James, my partner has had addiction issues (methadone, opiates, any downers basically) for 15 years. And I believe the root of this is ADHD which has never been dianosied. He is constantly restless, fidgety, impulsive, can’t sleep, and says his head just throbs and can’t stop racing. We are going to thr doctors tomorrow in the attempt to get a firm diagnosis..He is scared of getting addicted to new medication for adhd. What would you advise? And how do you now manage the agitation symptoms? Do you have an email address he could contact you on. I think you would be a great inspiration for him to speak to. It would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou

    • D
    • February 11, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your story! I hope that, as a part of your work to support others, you will consider working with local schools to advocate and perhaps even provide education to teachers and counselors in junior and high school- for when children go undiagnosed, or like you, don’t find what they need post diagnosis, they are seem as simply “discipline” problems in high school, often self-medicating and feeling stupid. It is so, so tragic when so many with ADHD are actually brilliant and have so much to offer the world!!
    I watched my son struggle; he went undiagnosed due to our fears and ignorance of all available treatment options, and also his ability to get As and Bs despite the difficulties. Now, he is healing from the damage done by the public school system, and by us not knowing how much he was struggling or how to help him in high school.
    Thank you again for sharing your story, congratulations on the bold moves in reclaiming your life, and I hope your story and work inspire and help thousands of others!!

    • Diane
    • February 8, 2018

    Thanks for sharing. I went through a similar time, though gracefully not as long. I was diagnosed at 7, started Ritalin and apparently “zombied” on it, so my parents pulled me off and kinda let things go. I have a high iq, so I managed school by halfway listening and passing tests. Homework was non-existent. It never got done. I tried college and burnt out the first year. Came back home, started working as a waitress and discovered meth. Two years of constant use. I worked doubles every day because I traveled an hour to get to work, I would smoke before work, between shifts, and again before my drive home. On my days off, I partied with friends. It was meth, weed, xanex, and alcohol. My house was spotless and I could turn over a table faster than anyone there. Never mind that I was tiny, my teeth were breaking, and coming down was horrible. I honestly thought I had found the cure for my problems. After a couple of incidents, a near wreck and a one night stand with a guy I had just met, my aunt started dragging me to NA meetings. It saved my life. I’m 13 years clean now. I have two beautiful children. I work as a CNA, which fulfills me very much. I finally saw a pyschologist, who diagnosed me with ADHD, hyper/impulsive subtype, and major depressive disorder. I take Prozac and concerta daily. My husband is my accountability partner. He fills my pill planner for the week and keeps an eye on it for me. I asked him to. I knew I needed to be on meds, but it scared the crap out of me to start them. I see a counselor weekly, who works with me on the practical life skills and overall mental health. I’m working on my self image now. Finally about to get my “meth mouth” fixed with the pulling of all my teeth and dentures. Working on losing weight by diet and exercise, instead of popping a pill, and going to a beauty salon to get my hair done the way I want it, because I’m worth it.
    My daughter is a mini me, and my experience has helped me to push for the treatment she needs. She was diagnosed at 5, and we have been through a slew of meds to find her fit. She takes Vyvanse now to focus, and clonidine to sleep. She also sees a counselor, goes to OT for fine motor skills delays, and has accommodations at school to help her do her best. I don’t want her to have to search like I did.

    • mltester3567
    • February 8, 2018

    This story is so inspiring. My boy friend is also in recovery and had/has some of the same issues. The problem is findi NH a therapist who will treat his adhd appropriately without judging him for the suboxone. I am excited to let him read your success story. I am proud to hear of adhd other success story. Keep up the good work.

    • Sarah
    • February 8, 2018

    Thank you for this.

    • Dana
    • February 7, 2018

    Thank you for your succcess story. I did not get diagnosed until later in life and realized I was medicating myself with alcohol which I no longer have to do now that I understand what was going on and got the medications to help me get on the right track. You are very brave man ! Thanks so much for sharing and for wanting to help others !

    • Anne Heller
    • February 7, 2018

    This is a good success story. I have two adult sons, 42 and 38, who have add and are drug dependent (not on add drugs). They are doing it to escape the failures of a life with add. My question is how did you have money for all the treatments you had?

      • Theresa Freeman
      • April 11, 2018

      Hi Anne,

      Depending on your sons’ living arrangements, you can always try to get them on Medicaid if they don’t have insurance through anyone else. I live in NC and when I first started going to my psychiatrist, I told them that even with being on my husband’s insurance, I still couldn’t afford the co-pays for the office visits and medications. I’m not sure exactly what they did, but I ended up getting Medicaid and they pay 100% of my office visits with my psychiatrist and my therapist plus my co-pay for any of the medications that I’m on is only $3.00 each. I know in NC, we have MCO’s and I think that someone in my psychiatrist’s office somehow got me approved to have all of my psych services covered even though I have regular insurance through my husband. I know that depending on which state that you live in, it can be harder to find someone who is caring and genuinely concerned and wants to help you rather than treating you like a drug addict or a number. The first thing that I would recommend is to do a Google search for a good provider in your area and read the reviews. If you see that most or all of them are negatives, stay away. You’re not going to find a place that has perfect reviews, because noone is perfect and there are some people that are just hard to please no matter who they go to. When you find someone that you think might be a good fit, call them and briefly explain your situation with your sons. Ask them if they would be willing to help them not only come off of whatever drug(s) they’re on, but to make sure that they are properly tested (if necessary), diagnosed and treated. Also, ask them if they would be willing to either help you fill out an application for Medicaid or even if they can do it themselves (if they do it, because they’re better with the diagnoses, medical lingo, etc,) you MAY have a better chance of your sons getting approved, even if to start out with, it’s getting help with ADD meds). I’ve been going to my psych who I found through a Google search for almost 3 years now and she truly cares and takes the time to listen to me. She also trusts my judgment if I tell her that I think that one of my meds needs increased or changed. I think that is wonderful if you can find someone that you can establish that kind of a rapport with. I’ve been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, OCD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and just last month, Bipolar II, so I’m on a few different meds. Also, remember, that depending on the condition that they are diagnosed with (especially any depression diagnosis) that those meds take at least 4-8 weeks, depending on the medication, to fully build up in your body, so don’t expect those types of medications to work instantly. I think I’ve seriously been on almost every depression med out there (SSRI and SSNRI). In March, I ended up having to go to the walk-in clinic because I was diagnosed back in November with Fibromyalgia. My Primary Care Doctor and my psych both thought that Cymbalta would be the best med for me to treat both issues. To make a long story short, that’s why I ended up going to the walk-in clinic, it was so bad being on Cymbalta, that now, my husband and I’s marriage is literally hanging by a thread because that medication caused me to become a very horrible person. My normal provider wasn’t there that day, so I had to see another one, who was equally fantastic!! After telling her what was going on and how the med was making me feel, she instantly asked me if my regular provider had mentioned anything to me about being Bipolar. I told her that I had asked her many times if I was, but she had said no. I also didn’t think I was because my husband’s first wife was bipolar and he said that I wasn’t even close to the way that she was. However, the provider I saw at the walk-in clinic proceeded to explain to me that there are now 2 different types of Bipolar, Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Type I is the kind where people experience the mania highs and lows. Type II, which is what I have, is the extreme mood swings that I have and how (I know it sounds weird), but I can actually feel my mood change. She prescribed me Lamictal, which is technically an anti-seizure medication, but is also approved by the FDA for Bipolar. Don’t get me wrong, just because I now despise Cymbalta and have thankfully been able to wean myself off of it faster then expected (and I NEVER want to take that med again, EVER!) Point is, expect it to take some time if they are diagnosed with any kind of depression. As far as ADHD and OCD, my meds for those kick in pretty quickly. So, again, depending on the diagnosis and med that is prescribed, will depend on how long it may take them to see/feel results. Be patient! It’s hard sometimes because you’re so miserable that all you want is the med to instantly take effect, but unfortunately, some take some time. Also, NC Medicaid will pay for the genetic testing where they swab your cheek and then test to see how well your body metabolizes different/certain medications and then provide a report to your provider so that they can have a general or better idea of what meds may work better for your sons depending on how their body metabolizes meds. So, whatever state that you live in and if you can get them on Medicaid, find out if they will pay for that testing. It will help give the provider a better idea of what meds they may want to start them on instead of going through 10 different meds before they can find one that works for your sons. Sorry for the long post, but know that I feel your frustration, I’ve been there, although, no offense, I’ve never used any type of illegal drug, but there are places out there who truly do care and will help your sons. Good luck to you!! I’d love to hear from you with an update if you’re able to get your sons into a good place where they can get the care that they need/deserve without feeling like they have to resort to illegal drugs to medicate due to their issues. Take care!

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