Managing Medications

How to Weather the Persistent Adderall Shortage

“If this was any other organ system, this [shortage] wouldn’t be tolerated.” The Adderall shortage is not only persisting; it is growing, upending treatment for patients with various ADHD medication prescriptions. These tips from ADDitude readers who have navigated the crisis can help you track down medication, manage symptoms, and explore treatment alternatives.

February 9, 2023

The nationwide Adderall shortage is now five months old, and it’s reportedly growing more dire by the day. ADHD stimulant medications, in general, are in short supply or impossible to find across the nation, according to the 470 ADDitude readers who answered a recent poll question. What began in October due to “labor constraints” at a manufacturing plant owned by Teva is now a full-blown crisis that’s leaving ADHD patients and clinicians in need of guidance.

“If this was any other organ system, this [shortage] wouldn’t be tolerated,” wrote Jon, a psychiatrist in New York City, in response to the ADDitude poll on Instagram. “They would be talking about it in the highest levels of government and in the media.”

The FDA predicted that supply issues would resolve by early February, though several manufacturers are now estimating recovery in March or April. ADDitude readers tell us they continue to call pharmacy after pharmacy trying to find their medication in stock. Colleen, an adult with ADHD and whose child also has ADHD, says she’s “burnt out from the whole process.”

“It’s a nightmare at my house,” she said. “Except that it’s not Adderall; it’s Concerta (for my daughter) and Vyvanse (for me). Between the two prescriptions, I feel like all I do every week is call for refills, find out our pharmacy doesn’t have any, and call more pharmacies to find out who does have the drug. Then I call the doctor and have her resubmit the script to whatever pharmacy has it.”

Prescriptions for controlled substances cannot be transferred, as Colleen has discovered. Instead, if a patient’s designated pharmacy is unable to fill a prescription, their doctor must write a new script. Those who cannot find their treatment of choice must go without or try an off-brand or alternative medication.

[Download: ADHD Medications – Comparison Chart of Stimulants & Nonstimulants]

Adderall Shortage: Reader Solutions

As the Adderall shortage drags on, we asked ADDitude readers: How has it impacted your life and ADHD treatment (if at all)? Many confirmed the shortage continues to limit the supply and availability of Adderall and stimulant medications in their area. Others shared the following strategies — ones that have helped them obtain their prescription, manage side effects, or remain positive.

1. Check local pharmacies for prescription availability.

  • “I’ve been able to find a local pharmacy that is not a chain store and that carries [my medication]. I had to call around in December but was able to find that pharmacy; we’ve had no issues since. I haven’t even bothered trying Walgreens again because I know they’ll still be out.” — David
  • “My psychiatrist recommended going to local pharmacies instead of big chains and I’ve found success. But before that advice, it was awful. I spiraled into a depression and felt so out of control.” — Bianca

2. Replace skipped doses with a multivitamin to maintain a routine.

  • “There was a point where my medications were showing up late and I would go a few days without my dosage. My psychiatrist told me skipping a day or two during the month is okay to make my medications last until the refills come in. However, the problem with this is the slippery slope of me forgetting to take my meds the next day. Lack of consistency starts to hinder the routine.” — An ADDitude reader
  • “Swap it out for a multivitamin or something else benign. This is how it works for oral birth control (sugar pills) and it is quite effective.” — An ADDitude reader

[Directory: Find an ADHD Specialist Near You]

3. Manage side effects to new medications with diet and supplements.

  • “Magnesium drinks or gummies like Calm (#CommissionsEarned) can help with the crash.” — Lindsay
  • “A little bit of caffeine or a sugar boost around crash time can help smooth out the come-down.” — Ulla
  • “I started drinking Matcha. It helps me a lot and I feel less stressed.” — Isa

4. Explore natural treatment options.

  • “The silver lining has been seeing people doubling down on non-medication-based tools and finding a positive rhythm they thought was only possible with medication.” — An ADDitude reader

5. Plan for end-of-day burnout.

  • “I have started making dinner in the morning and putting it in the fridge to reheat because I have no focus left by around 4 p.m. I’m also now having a cup of coffee at 4:30 p.m.” — Diane

6. Call your insurance company.

  • “My husband went to his human resources department, which handles the contract for insurance. They advocated for me, and my request has been approved for Vyvanse.” — Lindsay

7. Move forward with support and optimism.

  • “Some sources indicate the shortages should begin dropping at the end of February or sometime in March. Production was increased in the late fall of 2022. Hang in there!” — Chad
  • “My love and empathy go out to all those figuring out how to function right now. Lean on all the other supports you have and tell people if you are struggling.” — Theo


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ADDitude Magazine (@additudemag)

Adderall Shortage: Next Steps

#CommissionsEarned As an Amazon Associate, ADDitude earns a commission from qualifying purchases made by ADDitude readers on the affiliate links we share. However, all products linked in the ADDitude Store have been independently selected by our editors and/or recommended by our readers. Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.