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Yes, Virginia, There Is an Adderall Shortage

Virginia

The NY Times says some people face withdrawal and despair

“By the time Michael Kenneally found himself pacing outside a CVS drugstore in Cambridge, Mass., this summer, he was on a first-name basis with the pharmacist. Mr. Kenneally, 48, had been told multiple times that his Adderall prescription couldn’t be filled. For 25 days, he continued to check by phone and in person.

Mr. Kenneally had been on the medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., for 25 years. “It’s been so long for me that I’ve been on it that it’s difficult to function without it,” he said.

That day at the pharmacy was the first time he felt like a drug addict though, he said. “What am I doing here?” he remembered thinking as he looped back and forth in front of the glass doors.

Though he was finally able to fill his prescription after switching to mail delivery, Mr. Kenneally wonders every month whether there will be another delay. In October, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed what he and many other patients had already observed: There is a nationwide shortage of Adderall.

The agency’s site maintains that the shortage is continuing, although some manufacturers have the medication available. A spokesman from the F.D.A. said on Tuesday that the agency expected supply issues to resolve in the next 30 to 60 days. Teva Pharmaceuticalsone of the major Adderall producers, had trouble hiring workers over a year ago, which caused manufacturing delays. A spokeswoman for Teva told The Times that those delays have been resolved, but that the company is now facing “a surge in demand,” which is the predominant cause for back orders.

Rates of Adderall use in the United States have been rising for 20 years. The use of prescription stimulants to treat A.D.H.D. doubled from 2006 to 2016. Adult women, in particular, have used the medication in growing numbers. During the pandemic, more people may have sought out A.D.H.D. medication to cope with the stress, Margaret Sibley, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, told The Times in May. Online therapy start-ups have also advertised their ability to diagnose A.D.H.D. — and prescribe drugs quickly.”

The tremendous challenges these people have faced due to their inability to access medication is of great concern.  It must cause one to consider - is simply relying on medication for ADHD enough?  Can we do more?

“It plays mind games with you,” said Meri Romedy Barbian, a senior at the University of Mississippi who missed class to drive nearly two hours to the only pharmacy she could find with Adderall. “You’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, am I really this reliant on the medicine?’”

Medication does not cure ADHD. It helps mask symptoms but teaches nothing. In other words, it does not teach the skills necessary to improve weak executive function – a hallmark of ADHD. 

Learning the skills that strengthen weak executive function is a bit more time consuming than taking a pill. However, developing skills and changing behaviors are critical to success.  These skills can last a lifetime.  

Play Attention can teach you the cognitive skills that medication alone can not teach.  Our executive function specialists will assess your needs and plan a customized neurocognitive training program that will start you on your journey to success. Click here to schedule your 1:1 consultation.