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Voices of the Addicted Generation: Amy

San Francisco Bay Area, graduate student, 31

As Told to Madeleine Thomas


(Photo: Christopher Leaman)

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared in our July/August 2016 print issue as a sidebar to “The Addicted Generation.”

I started taking it in maybe sixth grade or seventh grade. I think I was 12. My parents took me to a psychologist, and they said that I had ADHD and just put me on drugs. I think I was on some form of Ritalin. I remember in junior high I had to go to the nurse’s office to take a pill every day. There was a stationery store on campus and I would get “school bucks” for the store to take my pill.

In high school I think I went on Adderall, and I stayed on Adderall until I was 25. I abused it a lot in college. I abused it a lot after college. I felt like I was kind of addicted to it.

“I abused it a lot in college. I abused it a lot after college. I felt like I was kind of addicted to it.”

In college, no one could afford to buy uppers, like drugs, so people would want to snort Adderall. They’d treat it like cocaine. Shut the back door and snort it. Sometimes we’d just get drunk and pop a pill. We wanted to party and wanted an upper.

Definitely around finals time, everybody was like, “Can I buy pills off you?” I would sell 15 pills a week during finals. Ten dollars a pill. I only had the blue 10 milligrams.

I definitely had a pill cutter too. I remember someone stole pills from me once — in my house, out of my bathroom drawer.


A version of this story first appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Pacific Standard.

But honestly, I think I used it more as an appetite suppressor. And to work out. I would go to the gym for two hours. I was always pretty thin because I played a bunch of sports in high school and college, but I think I got really skinny at one point. I was super neurotic about it. I would always carry the bottle around to count my pills to make sure I had everything. I felt I couldn’t function without it. I also smoked a lot of weed in college. I think that counterbalanced it. I think I had to, because I was taking so much Adderall.

I don’t take anything now at all. I go to the therapist — she is kind of therapy plus life coach, transitions and stuff. I also just know myself now. I have to have my day planned or I’ll easily get distracted. At six o’clock I’ll go to the gym — I have to tell myself that. If not, I’ll never do it. I’ll find myself somewhere else.

So many people in my graduate program take Adderall. This first-year had it just sitting out in the open the other day — a full bottle. She popped a pill while she was on her computer.

I was like: “Whoa. I would have never have done that. I won’t do that.” What if that’s how younger people are now? They’re just so used to taking pills.