Comment by Throawey on Open thread, Sep. 19 - Sep. 25, 2016 · 2016-09-23T04:54:10.927Z · LW · GW

You are correct that I have not taken Adderall, or any other amphetamines. I would probably be less hesitant if I already knew how I reacted to them.

I do fully recognize ADD/ADHD as real, though. I have spent a great deal of time around people with it. Some are very, very severely impacted. (I have to laugh a bit whenever I see implications that it's somehow 'fake'- it can be about as subtle as a broken bone.)

But my familiarity with it is also part of the reason why I have never really considered the possibility of having it. Even measured against 'normal' people, I seem to be very productive, and when I compare my difficulties with those of people I know with ADHD... It seems like mine would have to be a relatively mild case, or there would need to be some factor that is mitigating its impact.

That said, from a hereditary perspective it would be a little weird if I don't have it to some degree. The situation and low cost of asking basically demand that I give it further investigation, at least.

Comment by Throawey on Open thread, Sep. 19 - Sep. 25, 2016 · 2016-09-23T04:19:25.724Z · LW · GW

Possibly. I don't know if my gut is that smart and forward thinking, but that is a bit of a conscious concern.

Comment by Throawey on Open thread, Sep. 19 - Sep. 25, 2016 · 2016-09-23T04:18:20.516Z · LW · GW

That's... pretty goofy. I would hope sleep specialists, at least, would tend to reach for modafinil before amphetamines.

Comment by Throawey on Open thread, Sep. 19 - Sep. 25, 2016 · 2016-09-20T21:41:32.831Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the links.

I do notice that the idea of trying modafinil does not result in the nearly the same degree of automatic internal 'no' as amphetamines. That would suggest my inhibitions are somehow related to the relative perceived potency, or potential health effects... or I'm disinclined to do something that could signal 'drug abuser', which I associate much more strongly with amphetamines than modafinil. Hm.

I've also been going around and asking the more conservative people in my circle about this situation as well, to try to give a more coherent voice to my subverbal objections. So far I've found that they actually support me trying things, which suggests I really should try to recalibrate those gut reactions a bit.

Upon reflection, I think I could actually get modafinil completely legitimately. I feel a bit dumb for not resolving to do this sooner, given that I was fully aware of modafinil- even to the point of very nearly purchasing some a while ago, before I knew it was schedule 4- and given that I was fully aware of what modafinil was often used to treat. At this point, the choice is pretty massively overdetermined.

Comment by Throawey on Open thread, Sep. 19 - Sep. 25, 2016 · 2016-09-20T21:02:46.953Z · LW · GW

There is probably some of that going on. More potent nootropics have long been a kind of forbidden fruit to me.

Comment by Throawey on Open thread, Sep. 19 - Sep. 25, 2016 · 2016-09-20T04:54:25.385Z · LW · GW

For a while now, I have been working on a potentially impactful project. The main limiting factor is my own personal productivity- a great deal of the risk is frontloaded in a lengthy development phase. Extrapolating the development duration based on progress so far does not yield wonderful results. It appears I should still be able to finish it in a not-absurd timespan, it will just be slower than ideal.

I've always tried to improve my productivity, and I've made great progress in that compared to ten or even five years ago, but at this point I've picked most of the standard low hanging fruit. I've already fiddled with some extremely easy and safe kinda-nootropics already- melatonin, occasional caffeine pills- but not things like modafinil or amphetamines, or some of the less studied options.

And while thinking about this today, I decided to just run some numbers on amphetamines. Based on my current best estimates of market realities and the potential success and failure cases of the project, assuming amphetamines could improve my productivity by 30% on average, the expected value of taking amphetamines for the duration of development comes out to...

...a few hundred human lives.

And, in the best-reasonable case scenario, a lot more than that. This wasn't really unexpected, but it's surprisingly the first time I actually did the math.

So I imagine the God of Dumb Trolley Problems sits me down for a thought experiment and explains: "In a few years, there will be a building full of 250 people. A bomb will go off and kill all of them. You have two choices." The god leans in for dramatic effect. "Either you can do nothing, and let all of them die... or..." It lowers its head just enough for shadows to cast over its features... "You take this low, safe dose of Adderall for a few years, and the bomb magically gets defused."

This is not a difficult ethical problem. Even taking into account potential side effects, even assuming the amphetamines were obtained illegally and so carried legal liability, this is not a difficult ethical problem. When I look at this, I feel like the answer of what I should do is blindingly obvious.

And yet I have a strong visceral response of "okay yeah sure but no." I assume part of this is fairly extreme risk aversion to the idea of getting anything like amphetamines outside of a prescription. Legal trouble would be pretty disastrous, even if unlikely. And part of me is spooked about doing something like this without expert oversight.

But why not just try to get an actual prescription? For this, or some other advantageous semi-nootropic, at least. Once again, I just get a gross feeling about the idea of trying to manipulate the system. How about if I just explain the situation in full, with zero manipulation, to a sympathetic doctor? The response from my gut feels like a blank "... no."

So basically, I feel stuck. Part of me wants to recognize the risk aversion as excessive, and suggests I should at least take whatever steps I can safely. The other part is saying "but that is doing something waaaay out of the ordinary and maybe there's a reason for that that you haven't properly considered."

I am not even sure what I want to ask with this post. I guess if you've got any ideas or insights, I'd like to hear them.