Looking at what’s behind the Adderall shortage

Impacts of Adderall shortage
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 1:00 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Millions of Americans take the prescription drug Adderall but right now it’s hard to get.

This situation results in people dealing with conditions including ADHD going without their prescribed medications.

Joshua Scussell who is prescribed Adderall explained his frustration over the recent shortage.

“I was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, 11 years ago, and in that time, I have never experienced anything that is as frustrating or as disruptive as this shortage”

Scussell chose to look at things with a “glass-half full attitude”, but medically his life has been filled with hurdles that could discourage even the most dedicated optimists.

Around 41 million Americans are prescribed Adderall, a controlled substance that stimulates the central nervous system and can be life-changing for patients with a number of conditions including: ADHD, narcolepsy, MS, and depression.

Dr. Sharon Stoll, Neuroimmunologist Assistant Professor of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine explained more about the severity of the shortage.

“Not having this script is debilitating in terms of their day-to-day activity, I have some patients that can’t get out of bed unless they have this medication on board,” said Dr. Stoll. “They can’t go to work, they can’t function, for kids that are in school, they’re disruptive to their peers, they’re going to perform poorly on tests”

The problem is a vast majority of people prescribed to Adderall, can’t get their hands on it.

Scussell said, “the entire point of being on prescribed medications is to make life easier, and this shortage has made life kind of a nightmare every time it needs to be refilled.”

Like Joshua, Michelle McCormack is prescribed to Adderall for ADHD, and says not being able to take her medication has drastically impacted her life as a single mother.

“It made my depression worse. I’m losing things, I don’t remember ‘omg where’s my keys? where’s my phone? I don’t know when my appointment is, I lost my phone for a week, I missed every appointment,’” said McCormack.

Michelle said she’s had to travel more than an hour away in hopes to get her Adderall prescription filled.

There were she arrived, and it was already gone adding that the lack of compassion or solutions can make her feel isolated.

McCormack said, “just like anything else, like depression, if you don’t see it, nobody thinks anything is wrong, but if you’re not on that medication and you really really need it, it’s really bad.”

Board certified in neurofeedback, therapist Anthony Silver is widely published on the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.

Through his work at “Gray Matters” using brain imaging, Silver said it’s possible to see the impact of disrupted use of Adderall.

“If you’re used to taking a powerful stimulant every day and suddenly you can’t get it, there are really significant effects your brain chemistry to taking this medication every day,” said Silver. “When you can’t take it, you crash, so it is a very serious issue for people who are used to taking it.”

The FDA announced an official shortage of Adderall last year.

At the time, manufacturers claimed decreased production was due to an insufficient workforce, but doctors are struggling to still accept that as an excuse.

Dr Stoll said, “this has been going on since August and likely before that, it’s a huge issue and its completely unacceptable.”

Now drug makers are saying the shortage is continuing due to Adderall prescriptions spiking during the pandemic, in conjunction with the fact that Adderall is a controlled substance.

The Drug Enforcement Administration sets strict limits on the quantity of active ingredients drugmakers are allowed to produce in a period of time.

If the DEA does not increase the quantity limit, drug makers can’t increase their production speed.

It’s recommended to speak with your doctor about alternative plans to help manage your specific medical needs but in the meantime stay positive.

“You kind of get to a point where you can be scared, you can be fearful, but you just have to get through it,” said Scussell. “There’s no other option, you have to wake up in the morning and get through the day until it’s time to wake up the next morning.”