January 26, 2022

Adderall: The Cost of Speeding


It can’t be good.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) standpoint, this medication is a form of Fire. It causes the mind to burn faster and with an increased intensity, which produces the desired results of enhanced mental focus.

But at what cost?

What is this Fire actually burning up?

And where does it find its fuel?

From a TCM perspective, what is burning up are the deep resources needed to sustain life. The cognitive Fire is a form of Yang that draws its fuel from the reservoirs of life nourishing Yin. This is the inevitable law of Yin Yang and it makes for basic common sense.

Also, the more you burn these Yin-nourishing substances, the less ability you have to mentally focus naturally, which then gives rise to the cravings that you need more drugs…

It’s a cycle. It’s an addiction.

Let’s take a look at this wide spread problem.

Like any addiction, Alchemist Recovery sees the root as some form of Limiting Core Belief. Basically, you’re not good enough. Right here, right now, in the exact form that you appear, the Belief says you’re just not going to cut it.

Adderall promises to make you good enough. It provides an answer to the, “If only…” statements. Like, “If only…I got higher grades”, which leads to an after graduation request of, “If only…I made more money”, which leads to a midlife rumination of, “If only I had more time, meaning, Heart…”, which leads to eventually, ”If only I had seen this trap when I was in college!”

In TCM, Yang is Fire and Yin is Water. To use the metaphor of your body as a car, Adderall makes you go quicker, so it’s the Yang-Fire of the engine revving faster and hotter. When you rev high, you burn more Yin-Water. These are the substantial substances like gas, oil, radiator fluid, etc.

So what are the actual gas, oil and fluids of your body that the Fire of Adderall is burning up?

These are the deep, deep reserves of the body, which are designed to nourish you and all of your body’s systems well into old age. And the fix is not as easy as getting more gas or scheduling an oil change, as in the metaphor. Actually, it’s more like you’ve been running your engine without any oil. This causes an overheated condition known as Yin Deficiency.

When I diagnose this Yin Deficiency in adderall patients, I see it affecting the Chinese systems of the Heart and Kidneys, primarily. There is also a toll taken on the Liver, Lungs and Spleen.

This can appear as:

  • anxiety (a wide variety)
  • cravings
  • restlessless
  • insomnia
  • worthlessness/ low self esteem
  • phobias
  • family dynamic & relationship tensions
  • confusion of identity
  • digestive problems
  • breathing difficulty
  • palpitations
  • racing thoughts
  • irritability
  • aggression and anger
  • headaches
  • tinnitus
  • back and joint pain

In and of themselves, these complaints are worthy of attention. But when combined with an Adderall addiction, everything gets compounded, confused and jumbled together. Which of course, adds to Adderall's promise that you just need more of me to get some clarity on the situation. Which of course, provides temporary relief while making the underlying problem deeper and the manifesting results worse. Which of course, is like any other addiction.

If you don’t really need Adderall, then maybe you should consider not taking it. Like any medication, there are warnings about getting off of them. First and foremost, you should always seek the help of your prescribing physician if you want to get off of Adderall or any prescribed medication.

Once you have successfully begun the process, I always recommend establishing a base line. This means getting you to a physical and emotional place that is not dependent upon outside substances and has allowed for enough time to pass for your body to begin self correcting. From there, you can much more accurately evaluate what is a real need versus an addiction. For me, I like a period of 30 days that follows these rules:

Establish regular patterns:

  • Sleeping: getting up and going to bed at the same time everyday.
  • Eating: Ideally, eat 2 meals per day of real, whole, unprocessed food. Eliminate all processed food. Eliminate all white, refined sugars. Cut back drastically on natural sugars in the form of fruits and foods high in carbohydrates. Eliminate coffee and switch to low caffeine drinks such as tea.
  • Exercising: Twice per day, set aside times to move. Preferably at the beginning of your day and before dinner. Include both types of exercise: aerobic and anaerobic. From fast sprinting, swimming, running, jump rope and team sports like basketball, etc to be mixed in with the likes of yoga, walking, tai chi, hiking, stretching, etc.
  • Studying: Establish a routine of times during the day when you study. Make sure the material is well lit and you are physically comfortable. Use handwritten notes whenever possible - from there, you can copy onto digital.
  • Eliminate screens as much as possible and definitely 1 hour before sleep.

That’s just too hard!

No, it’s not. It’s just 30 days. And from there, you will have given yourself the gift of achievement, which also begins to dismantle the original Limiting Core Belief of not being good enough.

Get to that Belief that says you’re not enough and won’t be enough. Explore this with ruthful self-compassion and a tenacity for the truth. Where did it come from? Who was involved? Who in your life still supports this Belief?

Then call yourself out on:

How do I benefit from the rewards of Adderall?

From family? Friends? School? Work?

And ideally, do this with the help and support of others. No matter what this particular, or any addiction tries to tell you, you are not alone. Whether this comes in the form of in-person, one-on-one intensive therapy or online, informal groups, or anything in between, it is always a good idea to use the Medicine of Connection - its powerful stuff.

I’ve seen the physical and mental-emotional results of Adderall in young people and it’s shocked me at how devastating it can be. It’s using tomorrow’s energy for today. I equate it to withdrawing from your retirement fund to buy today’s food.

We do not have the data to suggest that Adderall is directly responsible for increasing the likelihood of related diseases. But in my opinion, it’s basic common sense, so it’s only a matter of time until we see the long term effects of how Adderall damages various systems of the body.

If you don’t have to do it, you most definitely shouldn’t.

It will catch up with you. And like any other addiction, I can tell you from firsthand experience from both sides of the equation, it’s just not worth it.

With Blessings,

Randy Lyons

Randal Lyons helps people struggling with addiction who want long term, holistic care. He uses his own experience in recovery combined with his training as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine through his program, Alchemist Recovery.

If you've got questions about this or any other topic in sobriety, please contact me.

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