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Can’t Quit, Even After Adderall Stroke

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Washington, DCJocelyn’s sister has been on Adderall for 16 years.
“My sister has tried to get off Adderall without success - she even looks like a heroin addict,” says Jocelyn.


Reanna (not her real name) was diagnosed with ADHD when she was 15 years old and has taken one Adderall pill a day ever since. Jocelyn says the effects of Adderall have caused so many problems, culminating in Adderall stroke.

“I remember my sister as a normal teenager except that she couldn’t get out of bed in the morning or focus at school,” says Jocelyn. “Reanna didn’t have any other issues. She was a ballerina but barely passed high school. I don’t recall that Adderall changed her behavior but it certainly changed her appearance.”

Joceyln says her sister’s eyes are sunken and her cheekbones are “jutting out” as a result of losing so much weight. “If you compare photos of her at 14 and now, she looks gaunt and so unhealthy. Reanna weighs about 100 lbs because Adderall suppresses her appetite. Add to that a ton of dental problems and insomnia - she is pretty much wrecked from this drug.”

Reanna has tried to quit Adderall cold turkey. Last year she tried to get off the meds to have children but couldn’t handle the severe withdrawal symptoms, so last August, her husband sent her to rehab. They have since divorced. Jocelyn explains that every time she tries to stop (and Reanna is on the lowest dosage) she has terrible stomach problems and can’t get out of bed at all. “She will sleep most of the time, and at rehab, she stayed in bed for two weeks, getting up only to go to the bathroom. They said her body needed the medication because her attention disorder needs it. But you don’t keep someone on a drug like Adderall for 15 years.”

Now the family is looking into another rehabilitation center that specializes in prescription addiction. Intervention is not required: Reanna would love nothing more than to quit Adderall, especially after suffering two strokes. “How many 30-year-old women have two strokes in a month?” says Jocelyn. “She has now lost partial control in her face, like it is frozen. She is not allowed to drive because she gets very dizzy. The neurologist can’t figure out why this happened: there is no history of strokes in our family, no brain abnormalities, and she isn’t taking any other meds, not even birth control.

“Last month Reanna started to see a neurologist who didn’t say outright that Adderall caused her strokes but believes that it contributed to them,” adds Jocelyn. “Reanna isn’t on any other medications; she doesn’t drink or smoke, and no one in our family has or had heart problems. I know my sister. She doesn’t abuse Adderall - she takes it just as prescribed. But maybe the prescription has abused her.

“I told Reanna that I filed a claim against Adderall makers. She knows Adderall has become a problem. I think she has a lot of anger because she was given Adderall as a minor and now feels like she doesn’t have a choice - she got addicted as a minor. She wanted to do well at school and be productive - doctors said it was going to make her better. But I don’t think doctors or the drug company have a clue what it does long term.”

In February 2005, Health Canada suspended Adderall XR’s notice of compliance due to 20 case reports of Adderall cardiac death and/or stroke that had been submitted to the FDA adverse event reporting system. Fourteen of those 20 cases were children.

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