How is the Adderall shortage affecting the rise in mental health disorders?

Is there a medication shortage on Adderall? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first reported an Adderall shortage in September of 2019 where it was expected to last until May 2022. However, today, more than 60% of pharmacies nationwide are struggling to keep both generic and Adderall medications in stock, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association. Patients are coming to their local pharmacies with the intent to fulfill their prescriptions and are not able to.

Adderall is the brand name for a category of substance known as a prescription stimulant, which is usually prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is meant to increase alertness, attention and energy by increasing brain activity. This in turn also increases brain chemicals such as dopamine resulting in a “high” or feelings of euphoria, making this prescription medication highly addictive. 

A book is open to a page depicting Adderall and its chemical structures representing the Adderall shortage and how it’s affecting mental health disorders.

Today, Adderall is being prescribed more than ever. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more and more people have begun experiencing distressing symptoms leading to mental health conditions and diagnoses. On top of that, the rise in online mental health care start-ups and telehealth medicine has made medications much more accessible to the public, says neuroscientist Guochuan Emil Tsai, MD, PhD. The pandemic unknowingly relaxed the rules for seeing patients in person and being able to fully assess their conditions leading to the rise in overprescribing. In 2021, Adderall prescriptions went up from $37 million in 2020 to $47 million. With a demand that high, manufacturers are struggling to keep up. 

Teva Pharmaceuticals is the biggest seller of branded and generic Adderall in the United States. With labor shortages, production delays, over prescribing and strict government regulations, the company is finding it difficult to keep up the supply. Because of its highly addictive nature, the production of Adderall is regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in terms of how much can be produced. Considered a controlled substance, making changes and amendments to the regulations of Adderall can prove very difficult. 

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What does this shortage mean to the many who are being prescribed this medication to treat their mental health conditions? Simply put, they are not able to receive their needed medications and have resulted in loss of work productivity and even turning to unconventional ways to obtain the substance. For many who are diagnosed with ADHD, not having their medication has negatively affected their professional and personal lives in terms of jobs and personal relationships. In some cases, the lack of medication has resulted in the experience of withdrawal symptoms, which can lead to another set of co-occurring mental health issues needing to be addressed. In other extreme cases, some individuals have turned to the black market looking for Adderall and instead receiving dangerously laced drugs with fentanyl. This again leads to a whole new set of issues regarding addiction, overdose and even death. 

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Hotel California by the Sea is a leading behavioral health care provider for individuals who are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Adderall is a stimulant drug, and although highly regulated, it can still lead to misuse and addiction. Clients can choose from a variety of treatment options when it comes to treating their substance use addiction. Detox, residential and outpatient services are available for those who seek help at any of the treatment locations across the country. Along with unique services such as EMDR therapy, family support services and career and educational resources, clients will have the opportunities to build, utilize and obtain all the tools they need to heal from their addictions and live a life free from the dependence on drugs.