How to Weather the Ongoing Adderall Shortage

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If you’ve been prescribed Adderall or its generic equivalent (amphetamine salts) and you’re having trouble getting your prescription filled lately, you’re not alone. Although the Food and Drug Administration isn’t reporting an overall shortage of the drug, consumers across the country are finding a different reality at their local pharmacies.

So what’s causing the shortage? How long is it likely to last? And, most importantly, what are some strategies for dealing with you ADHD while you wait for drug companies to resupply your medication?

Supply, demand, and prescription drugs

On a macro-level, the reason you can’t get your Adderall prescription filled comes down to supply and demand. Demand for the drug has more than doubled in the last decade in the United States—in 2011, around 19 million prescriptions for Adderall were written in the United States; by 2021, that number was up to 41 million. Demand was boosted even further during the pandemic, as more people reported suffering from mental health issues and Telehealth companies allowed people to get prescriptions filled easily, leading to a further spike in usage.

On the “supply” side, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the largest U.S. supplier of name brand and generic Adderall, reports disruptions due to “packaging capacity constraints” at one of its manufacturing facilities. This has resulted in backorder status for some (but not all) dosages of Adderall across the country. Both 20mg and 30mg doses are on backorder right now.

When will the Adderall drought end?

A spokesperson for Teva told Bloomberg the supply issues from the company are likely to ease up by the middle of August for brand name Adderall. The company plans to ship more 10, 15, and 30 milligram tablets by the middle of the month, with the 20mg variety following by the end of the month.

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You’ll have to wait a little longer for the generic form of the drug. Generic Adderall should become more available at the beginning of the fourth quarter, so pharmacies may be empty of non-branded prescription amphetamine salts until the beginning of October.

What to do if you can’t get you Adderall

If you’re having trouble getting Adderall (or any drug), the first thing you should do is to ask your doctor for advice. If you have a prescription that isn’t being filled, your doctor can cancel it and either prescribe you an alternative medication, recommend a non-drug-based treatment option, or combine the two approaches. They might also refer you to a psychiatrist. Luckily, there are a lot of Adderall alternatives.

There are a number of drugs designed to treat ADHD that aren’t currently in short supply, from stimulants like Ritalin, Focalin, and Vyvanse, to non-stimulant pharmaceuticals like the antidepressants Elavil and Wellbutrin. Figuring out which will work for you and in what dose can involve some trial and error, so work closely with your physician or a psychiatrist to dial in the perfect chemical mix for your brain.

If you’re not keen on a chemical solution to your ADHD, or you want to combine pills with other approaches, there are talk-therapy treatments and other strategies that might help. The most ubiquitous of these is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which places the focus on changing the thought patterns that often come along with ADHD. Another option is emotional therapy, to help you better deal with the cycle of ups and downs that ADHD can cause in your life.

You could also give neurofeedback a shot. It’s expensive and not without its critics, but this approach involves wearing a brain scan helmet and playing a video game with your mind, so it’s at least worth looking into. The idea is that as you monitor your brainwaves with an electroencephalo­graph, you’ll learn to recognize and alter their frequency, and ultimately train yourself to encourage the frequency patterns associated with focusing.

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