Citation: Terra. "Avid Caffeiner Switches to Atomoxetine: An Experience with Strattera (Atomoxetine) (ID 103020)". Erowid.org. Apr 1, 2014. erowid.org/exp/103020
I was diagnosed with ADHD in late October / early November, 2013. I worked closely with my psychiatrist on dosage after being prescribed Strattera (Atomoxetine). I started on a low dose (10 mg per day) and moved up to an 'average' dose (60 mg per day) but settled down at 40 mg per day. The gradual increase in dosage happened over the course of a three month period. I have been on 40 mg per day for about two months. There have been significant and quite interesting short and long term effects of the drug on my body, mentally and somatically.
For several years I have been an avid caffeine consumer in the form of coffee and coffee related beverages. For me, high dosages of caffeine alleviate mental fogginess and create an internal switch to be able to focus on something or not. These effects from caffeine are analogous to my effects on Strattera. Also, caffeine dramatically heightens symptoms of my ADHD. Specifically, sporadic behavior (i.e. making noises, 'messing with' strangers, restlessness) and an overwhelming feeling of needing to do a myriad of activities / stimuli. But, caffeine creates an internal switch where I can flip from those sporadic behaviors to an intense concentration (what I call 'hyperfocus'). I am a daily coffee consumer.
T + 0m : 10 mg dosage orally ingested with no other recent drugs ingested / consumed in morning (before noon)
T + 60m : slight effects of pseudo-stimulation. Pseudo in that there is no somatic effects (heart rate and other qualities of the nervous system are not changed) yet mentally I feel like I am on a light dosage of a stimulant, specifically caffeine. Slight nausea and a very light headache are also present. I consume two regular strength (200 mg) pills of ibuprofen. Coffee (approx. 2-3 cups) is consumed from T+60m to T+240m.
~T+90m : nausea and headache vanish. Feelings of light stimulation persist.
~T+180m : slight effects are still a bit evident but easy to ignore.
~T+360m : feelings are not noticed. When I am asked how I feel in terms of the drug I cannot tell if I still feel the slight effects or not.
For about two weeks I take 10 mg per day with an extremely similar timeline. Nothing is substantially different except that the nausea and headaches only occur one more time (2nd or 3rd day).
Two weeks later...
T 0m : 20 mg dosage orally ingested with no other recent drugs ingested / consumed in the morning (before noon)
~T 60m : effects of stimulation are drastically more noticeable. I feel extremely hyper. It is similar to consuming a strong cup of coffee. A significant increase in mood (euphoria) occurs. My desire for productivity is unable to ignore. I want to accomplish and finish goals right away. Cognition and thoughts-to-speech appear to increase in efficiency. In other words, my thoughts seem much clearer and I am having an incredible easy time coming up with ideas and quickly vocalizing them. It feels like my brain is working at 200% speed and productivity. Drinking coffee is extremely odd and a novel experience: half of a cup feels like it picks me up much less than before (before taking Strattera) BUT I have a desire to not drink any more than that half of a cup. This is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It is almost like my body does not want to take in any more coffee after about half of a cup. This is especially strange since I drink coffee daily (and often 5 cups or so).
T+180m – effects are unchanged from T 60m. I strongly feel like I need to be productive and do work (e.g. work on my scientific research paper).
T+240m – physical hyper seems to diminish a bit. I am calmer but my brain is still feels like it is working at 200%.
T+360m – Very similar to T 240m. More coffee is consumed with the same effect as before (half cup of coffee feels it is physically all I want to consume).
The feeling of needing to be productive lasts most of the day. My mood is elevated the entire day (from taking the dosage to falling asleep). This occurs for about two weeks on 20 mg per day. The effects were similar for each day. There is a bit of restlessness when trying to sleep. I notice the feeling of needing to be productive interrupts trying to sleep even though I may have been awake for >18 hours.
The following 6 - 8 weeks consisted of incrementally increasing my daily dosage from 20 mg to 60 mg. I increment up to 25 mg per day for a few days to a week, then 30 mg per day, then ~35 mg per day and so on until getting to 40 mg per day. After a few weeks of 40 mg per day I bumped up to 60 mg per day. At 40 mg per day I started feeling some interesting effects.
I was not getting nearly the same immediate ‘body high’ that occurred when I was first taking the drug, especially at 20 mg per day. Instead, I began to have a very consistent and strong increase in my ability to switch from normal behavior to ‘hyperfocusing’.
I happened to have been flying quite a bit during this time and found I could be extremely productive at the airport, on the airplane, or just about anywhere else with plenty of external distractions all around. In fact, I began to be able to focus on reading and editing academic research papers, working on writing my own research paper, and computer programming at all of these places. This was a very new experience for me. I have never been able to focus to this degree before, especially in face of an overwhelming level of external stimuli. Furthermore, my mood was slightly but consistently elevated. I was consistently in a generalized positive mood.
Additionally, with 40 mg per day I felt the effects lasted the entire time I was awake. The increased focus or elevation in mood was not due to a temporary body high. Instead, these effects came on about 45 mins - 90 mins (orally ingested within 15 mins of being awake) after taking the Strattera every day and lasted the entire time I was awake (again, would sometimes be 18 or more hours).
I noticed, as well as another individual, that I also started having a better ‘switch’ between states in other aspects. For example, I was having stronger restlessness symptoms when it was getting late at night. I would want to continue to be productive well into the night, even after being awake and working for 16 – 18 hours. This was especially prevalent if I had a good night sleep the previous night (7 – 9 hours).
For example, I could be awake since 730 am, take the Strattera at 745 am, be working on various things for 8 – 10 hours, go out to eat with friends, go to a party, and come back at midnight with an intense desire to do more work and be more productive. But, I could also combat this desire and simply ‘make’ myself go to sleep. And when I did this I started being able to fall asleep significantly faster than before (before atomoxetine). Lastly, I experienced a slight curb in appetite. There was no drastic or rapid losing of weight but I started feeling full from eating faster than before.
Interestingly, when I started taking 60 mg per day these effects changed for the worse. Instead of having a heightened (or better) switch, between behaviors to hyperfocus, I felt sedated. It was as though I was too controlled. My thoughts felt cloudy and I began feeling irritable because of it. Similar to 40 mg per day, I had no sense of a body high. These effects began soon after taking the drug and lasted the entire time I was awake. But, it seemed as though my energy was depleted on 60 mg per day. I stopped having the late night productive desires like with 40 mg per day. Instead, I slept longer than usual per night for the 5 days I took 60 mg per day (8 – 10 hours per night instead of 6.5 – 8 hours). I quickly went back to taking 40 mg per day and all my effects went back to how they were with it.
My experiences conclude that many of the significant effects of atomoxetine begin after long term and consistent use of the drug. For example, the long lasting ability to switch to hyperfocus, the late night productivity urges, and a major decrease in my sensitivity to caffeine all became consistent effects after months of taking atomoxetine.
The decrease in caffeine sensitivity started when I was first taking the drug but became much more apparent after months of it. Much unlike before, I now get only a slight buzz from caffeine, and there is no large increase of that stimulant effect when I take more than half of a cup of coffee.
I tested this out with caffeine pills. I cut a 200 mg caffeine in half, creating two 100 mg pills. I took one 100 mg caffeine pill over three hours after taking my 40 mg of Strattera that day. The effects were a slight buzz and a slight increase in focusing ability, typical of caffeine for me. But, an hour later I took more caffeine in the form of coffee and there was no change in the stimulant effects. The next day I consumed a 200 mg caffeine pill an hour after taking my 40 mg of Strattera for that day. Similar results: a slight buzz with stimulant effects no different than when I took the 100 mg caffeine pill. This pattern has been consistent for every day of caffeine consumption after being on atomoxetine for a few months.
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