On October 12, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a shortage of the ADHD drug Adderall. As of June 2023, there have been some signs of waning as they are assisting with anything they can do to increase supply. Here are tips to help survive in the interim.
What are the Causes of the Shortage?
Increased Cases. There has been an increased diagnosis of ADHD in the past decade. The prevalence of telehealth sessions over the past few years has contributed to the higher number of ADHD cases. With a corresponding increase in prescriptions, some telehealth organizations are under federal investigation for malfeasance.
Decreased Practitioners. With this increase in demand, there is a shortage of ADHD specialists to perform diagnostic evaluations. Non-professionals are popping up to increase the number of practitioners to meet demand. Unfortunately, they are not fully trained for the intricate nature of the diagnosis, as symptoms are both invisible and subjective.
Stimulant Overuse. With less experienced professionals in the diagnostic arena, many prescribers use less thorough means of selecting drugs. Stimulants are seen as a quick tool, with less consideration given to more holistic approaches to reduce ADHD symptoms.
Adult Diagnoses. There is now a professional consensus that ADHD continues throughout the life cycle. Late diagnosis in adults, especially women, minorities, and gifted individuals is driving up the number of positive diagnoses annually.
The challenge is that diagnostic criteria were developed with children in mind, with several perspectives sought to make a final decision on whether a disability exists or not. In adults, there is more likely to be comorbidity with symptoms from depression, anxiety, and lifestyle factors.
Fraud. Adderall is a popular performance enhancer for teens and adults. Its similarity to speed up the mind makes it sought after in illicit markets. There has been an increase in people faking symptoms to gain access to drugs and to get accommodations. With less experienced diagnostic practitioners, this practice is on the rise.
What Are Possible Solutions?
There has been a serious drain on the ADHD population during this shortage in the past year. The FDA is coordinating efforts to resolve the situation, starting on the diagnostic end.
- Establish better standards for diagnosis (authoritative resources).
- Determine parameters to pinpoint specific needs (adults vs. children).
- Identify whether patients warrant treatment with stimulants.
- Develop evidence-based practices to avoid misconceptions.
- Increase the availability of Adderall generics.
In my opinion, the best possible solution lies within the diagnostic tools. There must be better ways to determine whether a patient has ADHD and what should be used to mitigate symptoms. The solution is almost here.
The American Professional ADHD and Related Disorders (APSARD) is creating a more holistic approach to diagnosing ADHD in adults. They’re working on the finishing touches right now. Stay tuned for a separate blog post when they’re published.
There’s hope in the near future, but now is the time for action. Here are some steps that can be taken immediately.
- Ask about smaller doses that may be easier to get. Extended-release tablets are another alternative.
- Make friends with your local pharmacy. They may assist in the legwork in tracking the drug down.
- See if your doctor can prescribe an alternative medication. Generics are on the way into mass production.
- Use this as an opportunity to decide if a better solution exists. Adderall may not be the right drug for you.
- Consider non-drug treatments, lifestyle management, and therapeutic strategies.
- Time management
- Task prioritization
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
While the shortage may end, the issues that it raises in the ADHD community will remain. Stay focused on the bigger picture, weighing larger aspects to the challenges that we face.
Copyright © 2023 by Edna Brown. All Rights Reserved.