It goes without saying. There's nothing I can say about the MAGA cult or Christofascists that hasn't already been said a thousand times. I agree with all of it.
Now that THAT'S out of the way...
It goes without saying. There's nothing I can say about the MAGA cult or Christofascists that hasn't already been said a thousand times. I agree with all of it.
Now that THAT'S out of the way...
Since 2016, the FDA has tried and failed in numerous attempts to ban kratom or restrict its use by twisting the DEA's arm, import alerts, salmonella scares & various other avenues to no avail. Numerous states have even passed their own kratom protection laws to help ensure its quality & purity in that time. But their latest attempt shows just how desperate they are to do away with this plant. They're now going global, contacting the World Health Organization in an attempt to achieve an international ban. You read that right. The American Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for monitoring the purity of food and pharmaceutical drugs in the United States, is trying to get kratom--a plant that grows wild in Indonesia and is sold as an herbal supplement in the U.S.--banned worldwide.
If this happens, it sets a dangerous precedent for other supplements including vitamins, minerals, herbs & other items covered by the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) as well as potentially other substances. Worse yet, this impending kratom ban is part of a larger blanket ban on a number of substances including phenibut & brorphine as well as a synthetic cannabinoid. This should never happen in the first place, as each substance must be individually assessed for its unique benefits & risks before being scheduled. Once a drug is placed in Schedule I it's incredibly hard to conduct scientific research on its medicinal benefits, which the vast majority of substances currently in Schedule I have despite the specific qualifier that they don't. (See: cannabis, MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, etc.) Even heroin is used medicinally in other countries as an end of life pain reliever but due to its "forbidden" status in the U.S. it cannot be easily studied by scientists. Cannabis research is lagging by about 80 years for this very reason.
There is no reason kratom should suffer the same fate, nor should kratom users. We should all be demanding to know what the FDA's real motivation is for going to such extreme lengths to ban this plant that's helped so many everyday people. Their attempt to involve the WHO & achieve an international ban is unprecedented for an herbal supplement and must be called out as the authoritarian infringement on our liberties that it is.
And it's not just kratom that they're targeting: phenibut (also included in the blanket WHO ban) has been used safely by hundreds to wean off alcohol or benzodiazepines or simply to get a good night's sleep.
And back in March of this year they shoved their nose into another area they're not wanted or needed: the Benzedrex community. Benzedrex is a legal over-the-counter inhaler that contains menthol, lavender and propylhexedrine, a decongestant sometimes abused to obtain an uncomfortable stimulant high. It's been on the market since the 1960s when the original Benzedrine inhaler which contained amphetamine was pulled for being too dangerous/addictive. In that time, Benzedrex has caused an extremely low number of deaths--most of which were in users who injected the drug. Most users find it too caustic & repulsive to ingest more than once, yet the FDA found it necessary to "warn" the manufacturer about the problem of abuse which predictably caused a media storm, undoubtedly drawing in new users.
I had never used kratom until 2016 when they announced their big ban; I know this is true for many other users too. Kratom's popularity on Reddit & other sites shot up immediately following the ban announcement and many payment processors responded by freezing the accounts of its vendors. As one of the most powerful regulatory agencies in the world, the FDA has to know that publicly announcing that these obscure drugs exist draws in new (often underage & ignorant) users, leading to increasing death rates. That in itself is criminal.
|Vintage Benzedrex inhaler|
So the big question is, doesn't the FDA have anything better to do? Why are they acting as the de-facto DEA, going around trying to ban various legal OTC drugs and herbal supplements that aren't killing people (or are killing a literal fraction of those dying from alcohol abuse, COVID, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, lead poisoned baby food, pet food containing pentobarbital, faulty medical devices or other things that are actually in their domain)? Is Scott Gottlieb still pulling the strings from the shadows, livid about stepping down from his position early and being called out for his shady ties to fentanyl procuring company Cephalon and failing to get kratom banned while in office?
I see his slimy face speaking about COVID from time to time on the news. Personal feelings about the man aside, it's a shame he's lost all credibility in matters of public health. Much like Dr. Fauci, their advice on virology/immunology is not taken at face value because of their Big Pharma ties & history of half-truths. Now that we desperately need to trust them about this pandemic that's killing millions, many don't. Guess that's what happens when you put profits before people for so long.
Sadly, the problem goes deeper than Fauci or Gottlieb. These government health agencies are awash in ex-pharma CEOs and bigwigs with huge stakes in the pharma industry. It's a revolving door. Just look what's happening with the Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm. There's no hard data supporting its efficacy, yet it was given accelerated FDA approval for broad use & will likely strain Medicare to the breaking point. The whole debacle is shaking up the FDA with claims of recklessness & conflicts of interest by consumer groups. What a mess.
But these are the people claiming to know what's best for kratom users & other consenting adults.
If you enjoyed this article, please drop a small donation in one of the accounts below. Google AdSense doesn't support "drug-related" content so I rely on your contributions to keep this blog running. Also, please check out the American Kratom Association page for the latest news on what you can do to keep kratom legal.
Mentally preparing to bury your loved ones is no easy task.
After an absolutely atrocious 2020, America breathed a collective sigh of relief during the Summer of 2021 as COVID cases took a steep nosedive. For a few sweet weeks there were NO new cases per day in my state, prompting me to go maskless in public a couple times after receiving my vaccine. June was a dream; the 4th of July was a blast. People were getting vaccinated by the hundreds even in rural backwoods pockets of the country including my most conspiracy-prone family members. Well, most of them. All but the ones I live with that is. I knew the good times wouldn't last but I had no idea how fast cases would come rocketing back up.
Now we're heading into Fall 2021 and my closest loved ones are still not vaccinated. That familiar feeling of dread is creeping back in as I watch the situation worsen around the country. Case numbers are suddenly back at their October 2020 levels and it's only mid-July. This does not bode well for the rest of the year, especially considering school hasn't even started yet. (If you know anything about respiratory viruses, you'll know they spread fastest in the cold months when everyone is indoors under the recirculated, dry air of heaters). The Delta variant is a beast, more contagious than the previous strains and apparently more harmful to younger people. Add the fact that people are absolutely OVER mask-wearing & you have a recipe for disaster. The CDC & WHO are giving conflicting mask advice, with the former telling us back in May that vaccinated people could remove masks indoors while the latter says 'not so fast' with the Delta variant about. Fauci's email leak seems to have fueled the right's pre-existing hatred and distrust of him (to put it mildly) while social media sites like Facebook & Youtube continue allowing users to spread disinformation like wildfire. You can see where this is going. Nowhere good.
The facts are plain: 99.5% of the people currently dying of COVID are unvaccinated. Vaccines work to prevent severe illness and death. This is wonderful news & we should be so grateful to have a choice between life & death (those of us who are eligible to receive the vaccine, of course). This choice requires no major sacrifice on your part; you aren't being drafted into a war or being asked to forego basic necessities or comforts. Previous generations lined up without question for their polio, smallpox & other vaccines even when vaccination itself was a new technology. Now self-styled internet researchers claim this one particular shot is "too new & untested" to be trusted even as people around them die of a novel virus that's more contagious than smallpox. It's clear that the American public education system failed to teach risk-benefit assessment. All medical interventions carry inherent risk, but holy shit you guys. Compared to the risk of long COVID or dying alone on a ventilator? It's not even a close call.
|Delta variant = more contagious than smallpox|
Who's On First?
So who the FUCK is running this shitshow behind the scenes? Is anyone even in charge of public relations at the White House, or is it all fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants chaos? It's clear that, despite his expertise & years of experience in immunology, Fauci is too polarizing at this point to be taken seriously. One need only look at any comment section under a video of the man to see that. The number of laugh reacts & snide remarks rival that of any Trump video. People aren't taking his advice about the virus seriously and that's hurting all of us. He needs to step aside & let others do the talking. I'm sure there are plenty of other experts who'd be willing to step into the role. Quite honestly he should be investigated for his role in promoting gain-of-function studies after this is all over; for now we must focus on the crisis around us.
As for what's going on at the CDC, something is severely amiss. Their focus on reopening the economy & putting capitalism above human life has been apparent for a while but especially since Trump took office. Maybe longer. There was pushback against their "ditch the mask indoors" guideline when they said it but now that the WHO is saying the exact opposite, it's even clearer they're in the wrong. And maybe worst of all, President Biden of the "I follow the science" fame, still hasn't issued a nationwide mask mandate or given any indication that he's prepared to put the nation on lockdown as needed if things get as bad as they were last year. His presidency is basically Trump 2.0 without the mass protests, which is exactly what leftists were afraid of. Liberal democrats are asleep at the wheel, still living out their "lock him up" delusion about Trump who has been out of office for half a year now.
|The CDC has been off-base since Day 1 of the pandemic.|
Never mind the fact that the only reason Biden won was because Trump killed off his loyal voter base in the 65+ white demographic by holding maskless rallies in the freezing cold & discouraging COVID safety measures. 500,000 dead in a year: you better believe a good chunk of them were Trump voters. But liberals are acting like they've achieved something monumental with their Biden win. Look around! No $15 minimum wage, no universal healthcare, no UBI, no "Day 1" promised $2,000 stimulus check, no student debt forgiveness, no public option. The border situation is worse than when Trump was in office--more kids in cages now & a promise by Biden to continue construction of the border wall. VP Harris, a child of immigrants herself, told immigrants to "turn around" and not attempt to enter the country which sounds like something Orangeman himself would say. Despite his inability to scrounge together the coins to feed homeless, starving Americans, Biden bombed Syria within his first 100 days in office--a feat that costs untold billions.
These are the cold hard facts. How you feel about them is up to you. But in my opinion it doesn't bode well for our chances of handling COVID's comeback in 2021 and beyond. The vaccine is a wonderful tool but it's not a panacea, particularly if only half or less of the population is vaccinated. And if the federal government is unwilling to temporarily shut businesses & schools as needed to protect our most vulnerable--children who literally can't be vaccinated & are now vulnerable to severe illness from the Delta variant--how exactly is that better than Trump? Once again, we could learn so much from countries like New Zealand & Finland (which happen to be lead by women)--they've handled this COVID mess so much better than our stubborn old greedy leaders.
UPDATE: I finally convinced my most fearful, stubborn relative to get vaccinated. I did so by sending her a slow trickle of carefully curated information from apolitical sources like the WHO, CDC & Mayo Clinic between periods of total "cold shoulder" silence. When asked why I was being so short, I explained that I was preparing mentally for the possibility of burying both my parents before 2022. Combined with seeing actual (unvaccinated) people we know be hospitalized left & right with severe COVID, this tactic convinced her to get the jab despite the constant flood of pseudoscience & conspiracy nonsense on her Facebook feed from everyone she grew up with. Moral of the story: It is possible to reach people on this life-or-death issue if you're persistent. And if you can't, you may just have to "mentally bury" them now so it doesn't hurt as much when the time actually comes. #Boundaries
|This is my stomach on Vyvanse.|
So I was planning on this being a 3-part shining success story but as my shitty luck would have it, the medication I waited so long and worked so hard to get is not agreeing with my body. Don't get me wrong: it works wonders for my attention span, energy/motivation levels, depression, focus & everything else in the mental department. But my stomach is another story.
My poor, wretched stomach.
Background: I have GERD and gastritis that have been with me for about 7 years now and are (mostly) controlled with medications and dietary restrictions, so when it started to feel like I was getting an ulcer after starting Vyvanse, I was confused & bummed beyond belief. And a little in denial. How was this possible? I've taken Benzedrex--which contains menthol, one of my biggest reflux triggers--for 9 years without issue along with every other supplement & pill under the sun. Not to mention all those other stimulants I ate with abandon (minus the MDPV which had the same ulcer-inducing effect) over the years. So what's in this measly 10mg of Vyvanse that would be eating a hole in my stomach so rapidly?
I experimented with different doses at different times of the day, with & without food & even double encapsulated to no avail. Every time I took Vyvanse my upper stomach became a warzone of gnawing pain during the daytime & retching myself awake at night. Literally. If you have never woken yourself up by dry heaving due to stomach acid in your throat, I don't recommend it. The day I switched back to Benzedrex the pain subsided. It's definitely the Vyvanse.
I can't put into words how heartbreaking this is as I had so much riding on this medication. Not just my ADD treatment but my sobriety (okay, semi-sobriety) from codeine & Benzedrex & kratom. It took all my courage to ask the doctor for it in the first place; now I have to tell him it's killing my guts & won't work. My original plan was to ask for a higher dose at my next appointment... now that's off the table. Will he be willing to prescribe something else? And even if he does, will Adderall or Dexedrine or even Desoxyn have the same effect on my poor stomach? The last time I took those meds, I didn't have these gastric conditions. I'm trying not to even think about the possibility that my stomach can't tolerate ANY amphetamines. I guess plugging is still an option but that's pretty, uh, desperate. Not to mention impractical.
To put this into perspective, it's equivalent to a lifelong stoner or medical cannabis patient suddenly developing Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome & having to give up the medicine they love. I can't overstate the importance of this class of medications in my life and how long I've put all my eggs in this basket mentally. I guess my only option is to try other stims & see if they cause the same symptoms. If they do, I can restrict their use to part-time while using the Benzedrex the rest of the time as much as I fucking hate it. Fuck what all of this does to my stomach lining I guess.
And if you're wondering why I don't just try this or that stomach medication to offset the side effects: I already take one from every class daily, including the strongest class (Proton Pump Inhibitors). There's literally nothing more I can do on that front. I've even looked into surgery to correct the deformity that makes the reflux so bad but it wasn't promising. So I've got to live with it. Like Kurt Cobain, I'm a depressed ball of misery with a "burning, nauseous stomach" and only one way out. But I'm not ready to go that route just yet.
On a positive note, I used my 15 or so days on Vyvanse to wean off the kratom & cut my codeine use down to just the evenings like I planned. Super proud of myself for that. The trick will be maintaining it if I can't find a prescription stimulant that works. There's nothing wrong with Benzedrex as a stimulant besides being hard to dose accurately & having variable potency from inhaler to inhaler. Oh, and the little fact that nobody knows how it affects the cardiovascular system and other organs long term. I was hoping to step over to something safer now that I'm getting older, but I guess if I can even reduce my use of Benzedrex that'll be a small win.
Send good vibes. Updates to follow. Let me know in the comments if you've experienced stomach problems with Vyvanse. I need to know I'm not crazy here.
|Rat poison that sickened 22 prisoners at Rikers Island|
|'Vyvanse, 10 mg|
After waiting a week for my insurance to approve Vyvanse (which they still haven't), I ended up paying $385 for it out of pocket just so I could have it. Patience is not a virtue for people with ADHD and that week felt like a year, lemme tell ya. I spent the 4th of July weekend fixating on when I'd get my meds, wondering if the rude pharmacy clerk even contacted the doctor about it, etc. To top it all off, I'm sick as a dog with some kind of food poisoning or West Nile virus--I'm not sure which. I both ate some sketchy food this weekend and got bit by a thousand mosquitoes near a ditch of water while watching fireworks and am now shitting my brains out and sore all over, fatigued & having nightmares from Hell.
My first day of Vyvanse has been productive so far. I made myself a deal that I would divide my dose in two, using the morning dose to clean my room & just enjoying the second. And I must say, cleaning and organizing is SO much easier on this stuff. My brain doesn't agonize over what to do with my trash and junk. Before, I just looked at the mound of crap & felt baffled about what to do with it. My mind feels so clear and organized, like the cobwebs have been cleared out. And after that concussion the cobwebs were THICK. All this from a divided dose of 10mg.
The side effects so far include jaw tightness, sound sensitivity & a strange fatigue similar to the feeling you get when rolling on MDMA. If you've ever rolled, you know the "tired" sensation when your eyes roll back in your head: it's blissful but also somewhat sedate. This could also partially be because I'm sick, but in the past low doses of stimulants have made me feel kinda sleepy. Meth included. (Hello, ADHD). A higher dose would do away with this issue but also increase side effects like jaw tightness & sound sensitivity so you take the good with the bad I guess.
Vyvanse has some similarities with the Benzedrex (propylhexedrine) I was taking before but is also different in some key ways, namely, there's more of a physical push to get up and do things. Bennies don't give me any initiative to exercise or move my body in any way whatsoever... at least at the dose I use them in. The vasoconstrictive properties are too strong so I've always dosed on the conservative side to avoid heart damage but I feel more comfortable with legit medicines like prescription amphetamines. I don't feel jittery on Vyvanse like with Ritalin or caffeine but it's a nice balance between mental & physical stimulation. I'm just as comfortable laying on my bed typing this article as I am moving around & doing stuff which is awesome. It could only be better if it came in tablet form so I could break it into pieces rather than pouring out the powder, which is less precise and messier. I preferred Adderall for that reason.
In addition to helping with ADD symptoms like lack of organization and focus, Vyvanse has already helped take away my craving for opiates. I quit kratom in 2 days(!) and have mostly restricted the codeine to evenings like I planned, only popping a couple in the morning to stop withdrawals. But the urge to sit in my room and eat pills all day is gone. That's a huge win I wish I could share with my psych doctor but he has no idea I'm a drug user or I'm sure he wouldn't have prescribed the stimulant which is unfortunate. But I get it. The idea that someone could be a responsible, informed drug user isn't really a thing to most doctors and they don't want to risk their licenses like that.
I have a follow-up appointment with my doc in a couple weeks. Ideally I'd like to get up to 40mg or higher so I could take bigger microdoses all day long, but for now this is fine. I'm just stoked not to be getting piss tested (knock on wood) or dealing with any additional flaming hoops to jump through, because life is complicated enough as-is.
Do you have ADHD or narcolepsy and take a stimulant medication? Which one is your favorite? Have you dealt with any complications in getting a prescription? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your experiences.
Emotional abuse, that is. Which is the worst kind some would argue. After reading this Vice article simping hard for cheaters, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. What to do besides blog furiously into the ether about it, right?
We're living in an age of online dating, hookup culture & on-demand free porn of every variety. Relationships and fidelity have the deck stacked against them from the start, so to see someone--a woman at that--writing cheater apologist drivel like this is infuriating. I could tell you my personal story of being cheated on in a decade-plus relationship but that's a bit too personal to get into here. Let's just say it was the worst betrayal a human could experience short of being murdered or something. And I never saw it coming despite having massive trust issues to begin with.
Needless to say, anyone who's been the victim of infidelity in a committed relationship knows how sickening it is to have your trust broken in that way. The bottom falls out of your universe. It ruins your ability to trust people again and, depending on how long you've known your partner, it shakes your confidence in your ability to trust your OWN judgement of people's character. Like, I've known this person for so long, how did I not know this was going on? Am I capable of discerning good people from bad? It's crazy-making, yet people are out here trying to normalize & rationalize it. Let me say it again: Cheating is abuse and there's no excuse for it, period. It's cowardly, selfish beyond reason & deceptive. And it's often a sign of deeper psychological issues, whether diagnosed or not. It's certainly not something you should be expected to "work through" in a relationship--nay, infidelity is a deal-breaker like physical abuse or harming someone's child. Or at least it should be if you have any self-respect. I know that statement is gonna anger a lot of people who chose to stay after being cheated on but so be it.
People tell themselves 1,001 lies to justify staying with a cheater. Staying together "for the kids" is the worst because not only did the loser step out on YOU but they walked out on the entire family when they had the affair. Unless they're willing to let you do the same while sitting quietly at home, they have no right to expect you to put up with it. The reasons men give for cheating according to the Vice article? "Boosting their self-esteem" or "meeting their emotional needs." Riiiiight. As if that's a sufficient reason to destroy your partner's self-esteem and emotional well-being. Women apparently cheat primarily for sexual pleasure, which just means they're failing to communicate their sexual needs to their partner. Unacceptable.
To Victims of Infidelity
If you're a victim of a cheater, I say to you: pick up your things and leave as soon as you're able. Today is better than tomorrow but tomorrow is better than 5 years from now. Your time on Earth is finite and can't be gotten back. Just as abuse comes in many forms, so does murder. Your partner can kill you in ways other than physical murder. They kill you by stealing your time. When you stay with a cheater, you're enabling them to engage in the abusive behavior from the comfort of a stable relationship... to have their cake and eat it too while you pick up the pieces of your shattered trust. Staying together is not a neutral or passive act. You're sending a message that says "I don't deserve better." But you do. And you can do a lot better too, whether solo or with one of the 7.6 billion other people in the world. You're telling your partner they deserve more happiness than you, more freedom, more love/sex and the ability to deceive while you remain true in the relationship. And those things aren't true.
Aside from the primary impact caused by infidelity and deceit, the additional drawbacks to dating a cheater are vast. The majority of cheaters exhibit a host of other undesirable traits, including gaslighting, poor communication, lying, avoidance of responsibility, emotional withdrawal, withholding affection, impulsivity, selfishness, blame-shifting, immaturity & poor empathy. They have a unique gift for escaping responsibility for the act & making you feel like it's somehow your fault. If not you, then some vague trauma in their past, or it was actually the fault of the person they cheated with, or SOMETHING outside themselves. Point being, they fail to own up to it completely and instead spread the blame around. This predicts a bad outcome. RUN.
And don't think you can shame or punish them with your words. No matter how much you cry, sulk, give the silent treatment, withhold sex, throw their clothes on the lawn... none of that matters if you stay with them. Your actions are all that matter, and staying or leaving is the only action that counts here. You aren't "teaching them a lesson" with small gestures of displeasure. At the end of the day, they know you're all talk and no action. They got away with it and--even if they never do it again (honestly, why wouldn't they though?)--you'll forever have to live with the intrusive thoughts of your partner with someone else in the most intimate way possible.
|Cheating = a deal-breaker|
If you're a person who cheats or thinks it's not a big deal: Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself why you feel it's okay and necessary to engage in something so dishonest & hurtful. If you're unhappy in a relationship, your two choices are simple: 1.) Stay and work it out with your partner and perhaps a therapist or, 2.) Go your separate ways so you can enjoy your tryst with the new person. Most relationship problems can be worked out with communication, thankfully. But they often require a neutral third party to mediate and guide the discussion. What will NEVER fix your problems is going outside your relationship & flirting with, bonding with or sleeping with another person behind your partner's back. Infidelity is a YOU problem, and the sooner you take it upon yourself to accept that, the sooner you'll be able to stop.
If you want an open/polyamorous relationship where you're free to have multiple partners, that's a different subject altogether. Be upfront about that and find someone who wants the same. If you want to be single and play the field with no strings attached, again, that's your right but you don't get to live that way while enjoying the fruits of a stable committed relationship. It's exploitative and abusive. Pick a lane and stay there or communicate when you're ready to CHANGE lanes. Be a goddamn adult about your feelings & realize that turning outside your relationship to address relationship problems is unforgivable. Therapy is where you take that shit, not a random hookup while in a committed relationship.
Stop Rushing Things
And that's the other thing--you don't always need to be in a relationship. Too many broken people jump from relationship to relationship, serial monogamy style, without ever fixing their own issues or growing up... that's at the root of a lot of this behavior. If people waited to settle down until they sewed their wild oats and figured out what they truly wanted in a partner, there would be less cheating and discord in general. Relationships are hard work once the honeymoon period wears off. Engagement rings, dresses & weddings are nice but being married is about as unglamorous as it gets. Parenthood is even less so. The pressure to meet marriage & reproduction milestones by a certain age needs to die. That's how you end up settling for less than optimal relationships.
Marriage should be for life; divorce shouldn't even be seen as an option when you get engaged. Introducing kids to multiple spouses, babymamas/daddies, etc. is fucking complicated. While it's better to leave an unhappy situation than stay, it's even better to avoid getting into multiple shallow, temporary relationships to begin with. Nobody's forcing you to commit to all these people in the first place. Don't take commitment lightly especially when kids are involved. When in doubt, stay single or uncommitted & focus on yourself. There's nothing wrong--and many things RIGHT--with being single. If someone is a Mr./Mrs. "Right Now," they're probably just in your life because you're scared to be alone. And that's a problem.
To wrap this all up, cheating bad. Real bad. Some behaviors need to be stigmatized & shamed. If your behavior hurts another person, it's not harmless fun or "just living your life" like some of the things people get up to for enjoyment (ahem, recreational drug use). Likewise, staying with a cheater is a mistake. While we stigmatize enablers of drug addicts, we often sympathize with those who enable cheaters by staying in unequal, emotionally abusive relationships after their hearts and trust have been stomped on. Infidelity is not a "personal issue" or relationship problem between two people--cheaters should be called out by their peers. Accountability can only come when the realization hits that something truly fucked up has occurred. When a guy's buddies let him know his actions are repulsive, he's more likely to feel the appropriate shame & make a change than if the backlash is coming from his "overly emotional" girlfriend, for instance. We don't laugh off other abusive behaviors; we shouldn't brush off cheating either.
If there's one thing I wished for during my breakup, it's that our mutual friends would've held my ex accountable for her disgusting infidelity & related lies instead of turning their heads like it didn't affect them. Because it kinda did. Dishonesty in one area of a person's life is a huge red flag, especially when we're all mutual friends and I'm clearly hurting so bad. But that's another story for another day.
After much hand-wringing, I finally got my coveted ADHD diagnosis and med prescription from my family doctor. This was almost 40 years in the making. After setting up the appointment I hyper-fixated on what to say, whether I'd be drug tested (I actually quit all drugs in advance so was in codeine withdrawal during the appointment) and other details. More on that below.
There were problems with my insurance and the snooty lady at the pharmacy, but once I had that medication in my hand I felt unstoppable. And not just because I love drugs but because I legitimately NEED these to function. My history of self-medicating just to feel normal goes so far back it's crazy. Let's take a look through my past at all the shady stimulants I've taken, shall we?
- It all started with truck stop ephedra (Mini Thins) when I was 16. These were my introduction to stimulants. It was then that I knew I wasn't wired like other people & would never be able to go un-stimulated again. And I haven't.
- When ephedra was banned for stopping hearts, I searched hard for a replacement: energy drinks, various diet pills (Stackers, Yellow Jackets) and coca leaf tea. Nothing hit the spot for years so I settled for popping handfuls of Sudafed with the opiate habit I'd picked up in college. I wasn't aware that opiates gave a dopamine boost as well as mimicking endorphins but they certainly got the job done in the 'focus & happiness' department.
- I discovered Benzedrex inhalers in 2008. Game changer. I used them off and on for 9 years & up to the present day, only stopping to use other stimulants in their place (more on that in next section).
- 2010-2015: I ate every Chinese stimulant I could get my hands on, starting with the most addictive--mephedrone. I went into debt to keep buying more until I was able to wean off, then switched to methylone and dabbled in MDPV which was the worst drug I've ever touched. Made me sick as a dog. All 3 were banned in one fell swoop. Then I moved onto the fluoroamphetamines: 4-FA, 2-FA & 2-FMA, with 4-FA being my favorite. Abused the hell out of it for years. Also tried a plethora of random RC stimulants like 3-FMC, 5ME, ethylone, butylone, 4-EMC, 4-MEC, a-PVP, dimethocaine & 3f-phenmetrazine. To name a FEW. I also tried MDMA for the first time in this era. Did it about 10 times total before going back on Prozac which unfortunately makes it impossible to "roll". Oh, and I tried meth once just to see how it compared to all the other stims.
After the Chinese ban of 116 research chemicals, I went back to Benzedrex as a daily stim but knew this couldn't be healthy or go on forever. Self-medicating is for people with no insurance, no self-esteem & those unfortunate souls who have no other options. I now am blessed to have safer options & goddamn it am determined to make use of them.
The Initial Appointment
So the appointment itself went as smoothly as possible. My doctor simply asked what I was there for, to which I answered 'my psychiatrist sent me about getting on ADD meds'. We went through my history of symptoms & medications tried, and why I feel now is the time to get back on them. Adderall is my med of choice but I mentioned Vyvanse since it sounds less like a drug of abuse. I told him I'd like to start with the lowest possible dose since I don't remember what dose I used to take (and didn't want to sound like a fiend--we can always increase it later). I filled out an ADD screener and was on my way.
But be warned: some doctors DO administer urine or blood tests and make patients sign "pledges" to avoid all non-prescribed drugs. I knew this going in which was why I abstained from drugs prior to my appointment. They do this to cover their own asses. There are two types of ADHD drug tests: one to see what else is in your system and one to measure the amount of ADHD med in your body (and make sure you're not diverting it). Not all doctors even prescribe stimulants and those who do are prone to taking steps to prevent abuse that can come back to bite them in the ass, just as it can with pain pills or anything else abusable. In short, if you find a doctor who DOESN'T drug test, consider yourself lucky.
The important thing about your appointment is to focus on your symptoms and how they've impacted your life. Everyone has some ADHD symptoms at times, but do they prevent you from having a fulfilling career, romantic relationships, friendships, financial growth, harm your physical health/well-being & otherwise impact your life? That's the difference between "normal" & "disorder". Avoid walking in and asking for a medication by name as that looks like med-shopping. Only bring it up if asked what meds you've tried in the past. Keep in mind that not all doctors or even psych professionals are familiar with developmental disorders like ADHD and autism so you may have to keep looking if you run into an unsympathetic or uneducated doctor who dismisses your symptoms off-hand. You must also be open to the possibility you have something other than ADHD, as there's a lot of overlap with other disorders.
Even if your appointment goes well, there can be additional hoops to jump through with insurance and prescription filling. Since stimulants are a Schedule II controlled substance, doctors generally can't call in prescriptions or fax them remotely so patients have to pick up the paper script in person every month or, at most, every 3 months. This is when the drug tests can happen and that can get expensive as they're often not covered by insurance. Sometimes the doctor will let you simply swing by & pick up the prescription; other times they'll make you schedule an actual appointment which can cost even more & take time out of your day. This all depends on the level of trust you've built up and your doctor's personal preferences. There is no federal or "set" way of handling stimulant prescribing so it's luck of the draw. If you have private insurance, they may be the ones requiring these things but it usually falls on the doctor or healthcare provider network to decide how often your appointments are, whether you're drug tested & other details.
In my case, Medicaid requires prior authorization for Vyvanse which is tricky. According to the state guidelines, I have to have tried one "Tier 1" medication within the last 30 days, a few of which include Ritalin and Adderall. I had not done that so there was a wait and some finagling between my doctor, the insurance company & the pharmacy to get the medication in my hands. Frustrating but not insurmountable after what I've been through. I ended up paying the full price out of pocket for my first bottle ($385) while waiting for the prescription authorization to go through just so I could start taking it before my follow-up appointment. Expensive, yes. But not much more than I was paying for codeine in a month. I can only imagine what this process must be like for people without ANY insurance, those with no transportation, the homeless, etc.
All things considered, this process is about as unfriendly to someone with a developmental disorder as it possibly could be, and my experience went as smoothly as could be expected. I've read absolute horror stories of people being expected to pay upwards of $500/month on the combined cost of their meds, drug tests, doctor appointments & insurance co-pays. Others have had to drive across the state from doctor to doctor to get a diagnosis or prescription after trying tons of meds that didn't work or made them worse. Lord knows I've tried enough psych meds to kill Pablo Escobar's hippos.
Society's attitudes toward people with ADHD in general are less than sympathetic, with far too many laypeople (and doctors even) claiming it's a "made up condition to sell drugs to kids" or similar. If you've ever seen a child who is literally crawling out of his skin and can't be quiet despite his best efforts who grows into an impulsive adult with depression and substance abuse problems, you've seen someone with ADHD. The quiet, shy girl who doodles in class and can't get her work done until recess due to distractions & grows into a "ditsy" woman with anger problems? Inattentive ADD. We all know these people but unless you ARE that person, you can't possibly know what it's like to struggle with the burden of feeling like a loser, lazy ass, impostor, failure or bum due to this condition. These are stigmas that last a lifetime, and being able to put a name to it and, more importantly, find a community of like-minded people and a treatment that actually works, makes all the difference in the world.
Part III of this series to follow. Stay tuned. For now, we celebrate.
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