View Full Version : Focalin Question for a person new to meds


jerseybean
09-23-08, 05:15 PM
Hi,
I finally saw a neurologist for what was a suspected mild case of ADD. I was referred by a GP, although I had suspected that I had some symptoms as well.

I have not been definitively diagnosed. The Dr felt that there would be limited benefit from going through all the assessments and he seemed to think that my symptoms jived enough to give meds a try.

I was a bit learly about meds, mainly due to the risk of addiction. I have no history of such an issue, but the thought of having to go down that road scares the hell out of me.

One thing i wanted was a med that could help me focus at work, but then I wouldn't need to take every day.

He put me on 10mg of focalin XR to start and said we would adjust from there.

Few questions, can i take as needed (ie on workdays, but not on the weekends) or should I take daily. I believe I read something online that indicated that you shouldn't immediately stop taking them.

Also, how long does it typically take to kick in. I took my first dose at 11am, and didn't feel anything, now suddenly 1-1:30 I feel a bit of change, not sure if it's the meds or not. We will see if I can focus and get some stuff accomplished today.

Thanks
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anonone
09-23-08, 05:54 PM
My doctor says to me "well.. you're ADD 100% of the time, so you should have something that works 100% of the time." But I personally take breaks from everything stim he has prescribed.

When I first started taking them I was something like 6 years old, and I hated them because they depressed me, they changed me into something i'm not, and they were drugs -which we are all taught to not "do" in our youth. So, hopefully you'll hate it so much you won't even be able to fathom addiction =P

On the other hand, I don't do thinking work with out stims anymore. I don't even try. I can't say weather it's just that I lack the ability, or if I've grown dependant. It scares me to think that I can't function properly with out the stimulant, but that's what ADD is so who am I to say i'm not add?

I don't think short term use of the drug will create a dependance for you, but that sort of thing is different for everybody and there's really no telling. For me (and I would assume you aswell because you sound rationally fearful of dependance) I can stop adderall at will, and I have never taken it over the summer. I've never lost my capacity to stop.

jerseybean
09-23-08, 07:55 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I guess I'm not irrationally fearful of addiction, but I like the idea of being able to take my meds before I head in to work (analytical, heavy reading or technical subjects). But then on the weekend just veg out and relax.

Your point of being ADD 100% of the time is true. I'm know it affects me in my personal life to some exent, but my main concern is the fact that I struggled in my work life (getting work done, meeting deadline, paying attention in meetings and remembering discussions) and this would at some point endanger my career and was definately affecting life at home (due to working nights and weekends because I wasn't getting work done during work hours).

So I guess my main question was: Is there a problem with being on meds during the work week, but not taking on the weekends? My Dr indicated it was fine, but I read that medication should not be discontinued abruptly.

anonone
09-23-08, 08:36 PM
I'm afraid I don't know the whole story about it. I myself go weekends with out a different stimulant, but I don't truely know what affect this has on my body other than its still working with 10+ years of this 'off on' business, and no ones every told me it was unhealthy.

A lot of times when I read stuff like "medication should not be discontinued abruptly" it's about anti-depressants, which are totally different than stimulants.

There are also some effects of withdrawl when discontinuing a stimulant (very subtle, not like TV, lasts for a day tops), so maybe that's what you were reading about.

jerseybean
09-24-08, 12:10 AM
Thanks, and good to hear it has worked for you for so many years.

mystery
09-24-08, 10:09 PM
One thing i wanted was a med that could help me focus at work, but then I wouldn't need to take every day.

He put me on 10mg of focalin XR to start and said we would adjust from there.

Few questions, can i take as needed (ie on workdays, but not on the weekends) or should I take daily. I believe I read something online that indicated that you shouldn't immediately stop taking them.

Also, how long does it typically take to kick in. I took my first dose at 11am, and didn't feel anything, now suddenly 1-1:30 I feel a bit of change, not sure if it's the meds or not. We will see if I can focus and get some stuff accomplished today.

Thanks
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I can definitely relate about not wanting to be medicated all of the time. I really like stimulants for this purpose. They kick in quickly, and they are metabolized quickly and out quickly. I like to just be myself and enjoy life, and don't necessarily look at ADHD as some type of crippling disease, but rather just being different. This difference happens to make doing certain tasks, especially for work, much more difficult. So I like having something to help just when I need it.

I am not recommending, or encouraging not following your doctors advice. This is just a personal account. I take meds when I most need them, and like to take days off. I rarely take them on weekends, and often take days off during the week. I am just starting on medication, so in time I might find something that I like to always take, but for now I really like just being myself and enjoying the same things in life. Like, I'm very imaginative and can enter hyperfocus when reading a book. I literally am absorbed in books sometimes. I really like having this capability, and on meds I feel more driven to accomplish things and less imaginative.

jerseybean:
Few questions, can i take as needed (ie on workdays, but not on the weekends) or should I take daily. I believe I read something online that indicated that you shouldn't immediately stop taking them.

If you take them regularly through the work week, then you might experience some of the come-down effects for part or all of the weekend, but this depends. Some people don't experience much anything if they just stop immediately. I think you'll need to just try it and see. In fact, some people don't even experience any come-down effects once the meds wear off, but a smooth "landing".
Some ideas:
-If it's too bad, then you could try a smaller dose on the weekend
-You might try reducing the dose some on Friday (or the day before you plan to take a medication holiday)
-Try another supplement or drug to help pick you up some on med holidays like caffeine, or anything that helps pick up mood like exercise.
-I like to try eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water, and meditating, and notice that this restores my body and mind. I also really like to drink tea of just about any type, which seems to pick up my mood.

jerseybean:
Also, how long does it typically take to kick in. I took my first dose at 11am, and didn't feel anything, now suddenly 1-1:30 I feel a bit of change, not sure if it's the meds or not. We will see if I can focus and get some stuff accomplished today.

Thanks

They should kick in almost right away, or after about 1 hour. The changes might be subtle and hard to notice at first. The logic behind ADHD medication is if it's not helping enough then increase the dose, and if there are too many sides then lower it. So it's a balance. If it is really not helping at all after a week or so, then you could contact your doctor to see about raising the dose if sides are not an issue.

Howard_C
09-25-08, 01:56 AM
"I have not been definitively diagnosed. The Dr felt that there would be limited benefit from going through all the assessments and he seemed to think that my symptoms jived enough to give meds a try." 9/23/08

An assessment isn't that complex or esoteric. A self-assessment is fairly easy - just be honest with your answers.

Doing a self-assessment can be a real help in identifying where you have challenges.

For some individuals it's impulsiveness (saying things that are counter-productive or emotional flare ups) or organizational issues (planning / time management, for example) or motivation (initiation) or focus (attention to detail, forgetfulness).

Meds are usually only part of addressing the issue. You will probably need to take some other steps (having a stricter schedule, making to-do lists, having an exercise routine to work off energy, etc) to reinforce the positives that may come from the meds.

Frequently Drs. will start out with an immediate release formula - its a bit easier to see if there are results (or any side effects). Once a good daily dosage is established (with an IR) then switching to an XR is more common. But the route you are following is fine as well.

Does one dose last all day for you (I know it's still early on - but is that the regime you are aiming for - once per day) ?

jerseybean
09-29-08, 04:42 PM
I appreciate your insights. I have to say that this medication has resulted in amazing changes so far. I took no meds on sat (took them on sunday cause I needed to go into work for a few hours) and could tell a difference in my mental alertness and having more difficulty focusing, but given that I didn't have anything pressing to do, I really didn't care.

I can't believe how much things have changed for me at work. I have gone from being constantly distracted, and feel this impulsiveness to do unproductive things (for me it wasn't saying things impulsively, although that would happen occasionally). Usually I would find myself wanting/needing to get things done, but my head would always want to go surf the net. i wouldn't particularly be interested or even want to look at the sites I was going to, in fact, i'd go to the same sites over and over, even though I had no interest in what was on those pages. Basically a way to avoid working I guess. Tough to desribe the sensation, but it made me incredibly unproductive.

Now I tend to get lost in what I am doing and can focus pretty well, with occasional distractions. usually I find I need to remind myself to eat, because I don't even think about it. before it was like clockwork, where I used grabbing lunch as a way get up and move and because I couldn't bring myself to get things done.

I also used to leave at 6pm religiously. Not because I was done, but becasue I would get so aggitated and antsy, that I couldn't sit at my desk anymore. I would do this even if i was just going home and working. Last week I found myself easily working till 8 or 8:30, without that aggitation.

So I feel its working pretty well. I am tempted to try the 15mg dose, because I do fell that I am more easily distracted during the time between when the two peaks kicking in (about 4-6 hrs following dosing).

The XR version seems to be good so far, and I like not having to remember to take it mid-day, but having some instant acting would be good for when the deadlines hit and I have to put in longer days at the office.

I really feel like I have turned a corner in my life, and am frustrated that I didn't see someone sooner. I always joked about having ADD and when I talked to my parents about this seriously, they always tried to tell me that everyone functions like this (I think not). I have certainly accomplished more than I would have guessed, when I was growing up. But at the same time wonder, how would I have done, if I didn't have these issues with focus. Who knows. I was getting really frustrated at work, and felt that eventually I would be fired for my inability to keep up and get things done on time. My whole perspective has changed, and I am looking forward to seeing where I go. Still need to make some behavioral changes to get the most out of this, but things are looking good.

Howard_C
10-04-08, 02:38 AM
Well, good luck.

You sound a bit like me. I'm new to a diagnosis myself.

I still have issues with staying "on task". The larger the item the more trouble, because if it was a big project I wouldn't spread it out over time. Then, as it got closer to a deadline, I'd tend to get anxious (in a away) and would still have trouble starting but would be more and more aware of it. End result - some anxiety.

Usually I get things done (at least at work, where there are consequences) but each time I'd tell myself the next time I would do it differently. Ha! Most people learn how to do that in their teens (or earlier). I never have.

It's strange. It's like packing for a trip. I'll leave most of the packing for the very last minute. Partly it feels like I can't make choices, so I wait till I don't have any more opportunity to postpone making up my mind.

Anyway - I am still trying.