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Smoking, Drinking, Substance Abuse, and ADHD

Husband Addicted to Adderall?

Hello, I hope I am in the right place.  I am the non-ADHD spouse.  My husband and I have been together for 14+ years.  I found out early on in our relationship that he was ADHD, but in my naivety I didn’t think it was an issue.  He took medication after all.  Done deal. 

Fast forward a bit and he tells me that he had a history of abusing Ritalin.  He had insurance through both of his divorced parents and would fill prescriptions under each plan.  He’d still run out and would doctor-shop to get more scripts.  I was concerned, but believed him when he said he’d had help and was not doing that any longer.

He went off meds at some point, but after suffering from severe agoraphobia, he started treatment with a new doctor and started trying new meds under doctor supervision.  I know he started Ritalin again, and Strattera, and now he’s on Adderall.

I know he abuses it: he has asked me to help monitor his use by keeping the bottle in a safe and only giving him his daily allotment.  I am happy to do this because I want to help him.  At times he asks for extra capsules.  I give them to him.  I always question his reasoning for it, but ultimately it’s not my decision to keep him from his prescription.  When he runs out early, it’s his own fault. 

This morning I went into the safe to get his daily dose out, and the bottle was considerably lighter than I expected.  I counted, and half the expected amount was there.  A ball immediately formed in the pit of my stomach; he must have taken it.  I confronted him, asking why the bottle was lighter. He stated he had taken some to “test” himself to see if he was ready to manage his medicine on his own.  I WANT to trust him.  I don’t know if I can.  (He had asked that I let him in the safe this week for some documents.  Again, I WANT to trust, so I did let him…I am questioning my own judgement.) 

My question is, when does medication abuse turn to addiction?  I think that’s where he’s at.  I don’t know what to do.  He always has a believable reason for his actions.  I don’t come from an addict-background.  I think my instincts are on, but what if they’re not?  What do I do?

Replies

Hi, as a former addict & long term carer of an addict, I can tell you the most important thing is you MUST TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! I feel for you and your confusion, but this is the time to find your strength and trust yourself, for the sake of your sanity and stop his descent into addiction. Dont let it get too bad before you take charge, he is an addict, he will say and do anything to get your compliance as he hasnt got his own self control and he needs you. He may be in denial and lying to himself, its scary to feel so compelled but you both need to face up to what is happening. Please, find some help for both of you, you both need support. Read as much as you can about enabling and positively supporting an addict as well as how it will be affecting him. Talk to him, share your fears for his health, offer your support but make it clear you wont be emotionallly or ‘rationally’ manipulated to endorse his bad choices. If he cannot handle you having complete control of meds with no exceptions then he must accept he has a problem. Well done for reaching out, you are not alone! Jo x

Posted by joanna319 on Aug 21, 2014 at 3:11pm

Joanna is absolutely right, you must trust your instincts!  Where there’s smoke, there’s most likely fire.  This is often an initial point where one hesitates or even denies that there’s a fire.  This is because one either doesn’t know how to safely fight the fire and/or is rightfully scared of getting hurt trying to extinguish the blaze.  With this said, it is imperative that you confront the situation in a timely manner before the blaze turns into an inferno.  One doesn’t need to confront it immediately but they will benefit from immediately acknowledging that there’s a fire that needs to be put out.  To avoid an unhealthy reactionary confrontation, it’s often helpful to get some separation from the situation through both physical space and time.  Allowing some time to focus on other matters, come back to the concern regarding the fire.  This will likely provide a more calm mind that’s better able to address the situation.  One may feel more capable of dealing with the fire after researching ways of how to handle the situation.  And since everyone’s situation is unique, one will have to determine which resources available to them may be the most helpful with preparing them to extinguish this fire.  Talk with your spouse and ask questions about he feels about the situation.  How happy with the Adderall is he?  What are some of the troubles that he has noticed with using the stimulant medication?  How may he like things to be differently?  Keep the questions open-ended and try to truly listen empathetically.  (You may want to read up and practice a bit on how to listen empathetically since it can be a challenging skill to learn and practice.)  Truly listening empathetically and allowing him to be heard by someone who honestly cares about him and only desires what’s best for him will hopefully engage him enough so that you can better understand the type of fire you’re facing.  Once you feel more aware about what’s happening and learn of some healthy ways to handle the situation, then put together a game plan of how YOU will fight this fire.  Determine the boundaries for what is acceptable and what is no longer going to be tolerated.  You need to be especially firm to avoid being mentally or emotionally manipulated or abused.  As Joanna states above, if he wants you to help him, then he must follow the rules the two of you agree upon - NO exceptions.  No special circumstances.  Seek to work with him and communicate the boundaries or limits to which you’re willing to work with him to help him.  If he refuses to respect your boundaries, then let him know that you won’t help him.  He has to want help for himself and you nor anyone else can want it for him.  Once you have a reasonable idea of your game plan, put it into action in due course.  Once again, most likely you want to extinguish the fire of the situation before it gets any worse so take action in a reasonably timely manner.  As Joanna states, finding outside help may be both necessary and helpful.  But start small by containing the fire and setting boundaries for what’s acceptable going forward.  If those agreed upon boundaries are violated, then agree to pursue outside help to extinguish the blaze.  Escalate the level of resources engaged only to the level that is necessary to overcome the resistance against putting the fire out once and for all.  Be clear about your level of commitment and what will happen if the agreed upon boundaries are violated.  Let him know how far you are willing to help him before you’ll have to let him go if he resists playing fair and truthfully.  The hardest part will be to hold him to account if he violates any or the agreed upon limits or boundaries.  But you must do it!  To protect yourself and to demonstrate to him that this is for real.  Get his involvement, participation, input, and agreement.  Let him know that you’re there to help him get better but you can’t do it for him.  And if he abides by the agreed upon set boundaries and behaves more honestly, you will regain that trust.  Your relationship will heal.  You will not only help him but also yourself and your sanity.  And in the event that you need him to help you get better at some point in the future, you will know you will be able to count on him.  Listen, communicate, set boundaries for yourself but communicate them honestly to him, discuss, come to an agreement upon boundaries and expectations for him, require more honesty and truthfulness, demonstrate your unconditional love, show your support, and get better.  By dealing with the issue before it gets worse will make things not only better, but easier.  If he truly wants to get things right, he will appreciate your effort and willingness to be open and vulnerable.  Best wishes to you!

Posted by StrategyGuy on Sep 01, 2014 at 9:50pm

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