Even though a new study indicates that there is no evidence of Adderall heart problems, the jury is still out regarding the link between ADHD medications like Adderall and heart risks. Susan (not her real name) is convinced that her brother would still be alive today if he wasn't taking 90mg of Adderall daily, which is an extremely high dosage.
"My brother, Gary, was only 64 years old when he passed away in September 2010," Susan says. "My sister and I, and even his neighbor, noticed his unusual behavior that started about 18 months before he died," says Susan. "He was a big guy and a Vietnam veteran—in fact he wrote a book about his war experiences and was set up for a book signing just before he died—but he lost so much weight and was so 'out of it,' we just couldn't figure it out.
"Just before he died my sister and I visited him and his wife in Arizona. One night we were all going out for dinner and Gary was so wasted he couldn't even walk. He didn't drink alcohol (although he used to be a light drinker) and he certainly didn't take drugs. But we believe that this prescription drug, Adderall, was a lot more dangerous than alcohol and illegal drugs combined. I talked to his neighbor and he said Gary was always like that—wasted.
"I remember commenting about his weight loss. 'You are getting so skinny, what is happening to you?' I asked him. 'Yeah, I recently went to a high school reunion and people asked me if I had a terminal disease,' he replied, laughing.
"There was another incident I remember. The last summer before Gary died I called him around midday. 'I'm in slug mode,' he said, without even the energy to talk. It was like he had been drugged. This wasn't like Gary at all, he was always an early riser; he usually had coffee made and the newspaper read by 6am.
"The chief of police and the medical examiner took Gary's body out of the house and a few days later his wife showed me three bottles of Adderall. Two were empty and one was half full. He was taking 90mg a day and he had already had a heart attack. I knew Gary was on beta blockers for his heart; he also told me that his heart condition was under control. His death certificate said the cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia and the secondary cause was coronary artery disease.
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"I called Gary's doctor to find out why he was prescribed Adderall. He was getting treated through the VA clinic but the Adderall was from a private practice physician—Gary's first wife told me that this doctor was known as a 'pill pusher.' I didn't get any answers from either doctor.
"Gary had just gone on full disability and he was looking forward to retirement. I can't help but think Gary would be alive today if he hadn't been prescribed Adderall."