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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Husband Addicted to Adderall?

I also posted this in the “smoking, drinking, substance abuse, and ADHD” group, but I wanted to come here as well.

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?


I am a psychologist and an addiction professional (and married to a man with ADHD, and mother to a daughter with ADHD).  The hallmarks of addiction (now called substance use disorder) can be summed up in two generalities:  1) continued use despite negative consequences and/or 2) loss of control of use (separate issues include cravings, tolerance, and withdrawal).  It sounds like he is facing negative marital consequences of his use.  Are there other negative consequences to the way he is using Adderall?  Do you have evidence that he has lost control over his use of it?

In any case, I applaud your desire to help by doling out his daily dose.  However, this also puts you in a precarious position, as you have now seen.  I would suggest you be in the position of managing his medications ONLY if this was an agreement created with and monitored by an addiction-savvy psychologist or a physician who is board certified in addiction medicine.  I would also suggest that you and your husband together talk with his current prescribing physician about the way he is using Adderall and what to do about it (altho be cautious here, I would say the majority of physicians…IME…are not addiction-savvy).  I would suggest that you and your husband move in the direction of his being responsible for his own Adderall use.  Lastly, I suggest you find support for yourself through Al-Anon or Families Anonymous (both 12-Step meetings for loved ones affected by another’s substance misuse) and/or by reading about addiction and how you as the spouse can and can’t help.

Posted by Labradorim on Aug 21, 2014 at 4:21pm

there is a difference between dependance and addiction. is a diabetic addicted to insuline shots? ADD is hard enouph without someone calling you an ADDICT!!! in fact there are many people smarter then you and me who say there’s no such thing as addiction. its become a household word over recent decades as the multybillion dollar substance abuse industry has gotten bigger and bigger. there’s no black and white right or wrong solution to this conondrum.

Posted by tomkat24 on Aug 21, 2014 at 6:43pm

the difference is when the usage gradually spirals out of control beyond any therapeutic value, becomes unmanageable, dangerous, with an inability to stop despite desperately negative and severe consequences physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially.
But Im glad addiction doesnt exist, maybe that means I get all my family back, my daughter back,my friends back, my home, my horses, my dogs, my possesssions, everything I owned, knew, and loved, my sanity, health, job, and my whole life. I rejoice.

Posted by joanna319 on Aug 21, 2014 at 8:21pm


I went through the addicted to Adderall phase with my husband. Lasted 3 long years! He would go through his entire script (one month) in a matter of 10 - 12 days! And these were the powerful ones. Then he’d crash and I’d be left with a screaming, crying, “poor me I’m going to kill myself” of a husband for about a week. This was all in front of my young impressionable daughter at the time, while she was going through an intense medical issue that required me to be at doctors/hospital offices once or twice a week! While working and holding down the fort. Several times he threatened to kill me too!

Then after a week or so in bed , while he recovered, ( we are self-employed mind you so guess who ran the business while he lay in bed once a month for a week). Then when it was all over I’d have about one somewhat normal week out of the month. This all came after an alcohol addiction , AND a speed addiction that I had to pry him off of that both lasted a couple years each.

And, I’m still here???? why, I don’t know. In our 11 year marriage I’ve had about two years of somewhat sanity. Still hold so many grudges that it’s hard to move past it all.

I think I need therapy from it all it was so traumatizing. Feel very tired and worn out from it . Sometimes I think the only reason he married me was to have a mommy to take care of him. He’s never taken care of me or my daughter in ANY way, financially, or emotionally. If it wasn’t for our joint business that was MINE before we got married and it’s the ONLY thing I’ve ever done since my mid 20’s , I know I wouldn’t be here.

Oh well, really needed a vent. He’s off everything and gives it a half ass try but I can’t seem to get past it all, not sure how to be in a marriage where I’m angry all the time. Now that the dust has settled and I can think, the anger just keeps surfacing. And he wonders why??????????????

Posted by JK on Aug 23, 2014 at 8:48am

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