Updated: 3 days ago
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in October of 2022 that there was a national Adderall shortage due to an issue with production at one of the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturers, Teva. As an ADHD expert for over 17 years, I noticed a spike in ADHD diagnoses and treatment since 2020 with my clients. It is reported that many manufacturers still cannot keep up with the demand.
Additionally, if you refer to the FDA website as of today, there is still a shortage of amphetamines, the generic name for Adderall. Initially, the shortages were reported to be resolved by April of 2023, but it clearly is still a problem for many manufacturers.
Clients and family members have been reporting that their stimulant medications are not as effective as of late. A generic medication such as amphetamine may include inactive ingredients such as fillers that are different from the name-brand drug, Adderall. In fact, this is the case for my stepson who now receives reports from his teachers that he calls out in class and is more disruptive than before the stimulant shortage. Additionally, my adult clients who are delayed in getting their Adderall, reported increased stress at home and at work.
The FDA reports, “variability can and does occur during manufacturing, for both brand-name and generic medicines. When a medicine, generic or brand-name, is mass-produced, very small variations in purity, size, strength, and other parameters are permitted.” Due to the shortage, some pharmacies needed to get their amphetamines from different manufacturers. Different manufacturers can have different variations in the medication.
Additionally, from my personal and client’s experiences, we can build a tolerance to Adderall over time. This could be the cause of some cases of individuals’ Adderall not being as effective as in the past. Clients should consider talking to their prescriber to see if this might be the case for them, in which case they might need to get on a higher dosage or try a different medication altogether.
What can we do about this?
Many of my clients throughout the United States needed to get creative with their prescribers and try different stimulants, forms, dosages, or even non-stimulants to manage their ADHD.
For those struggling to fill their Adderall prescription, call your provider to see what they can do. I personally take 10mg of immediate-release Adderall daily and my husband takes 20mg. He had to work with our psychiatrist to adjust his dose since we are still experiencing shortages in dosages of immediate-release amphetamines at our pharmacies for 20mg and up. Additionally, some of my clients have been able to receive their generic Adderall through mail-in prescriptions from pharmacies that are out of their area. You might also want to consider a different boutique or mom-and-pop type pharmacy or name-brand Adderall instead of generic amphetamines, but of course, this will likely come at a much greater cost. We’ve been doing this for our sons, and it’s been hundreds of dollars each month.
You can also talk to your doctor about the generic brand that works for you. If you have a standing relationship with your pharmacist you can request they order this generic brand. The pharmacy will try to order your preferred brand, if they cannot order it, depending on the state you live in, you might be able to call your doctor for a paper script so you can take it to other pharmacies and see if they have your preferred brand.
If you are at a loss, cannot find, or can no longer afford your medication, there are natural ways to increase dopamine in the brain. Some examples of dopamine-increasing activities include exercise, which you are excited about doing, walking in nature, practicing mindfulness, deep breathing, getting reliable sleep, listening to music, dancing, and eating protein-rich foods with tyrosine such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, fish, bananas, avocados, and almonds. Chocolate and caffeine can increase dopamine levels but only for short periods of time. Research shows that cold water exposure leads to an increase in dopamine and after the person gets out of the cold water, dopamine is sustained. The warrior pose, which is often used in yoga can help increase levels of dopamine as it has been shown to reduce stress. Visualization and sunlight can also create dopamine.
Also, consider being accountable to a friend, coach, therapist, or mentor to help manage your time, set boundaries, and reduce stressors that can cause low dopamine levels. Try to notice your small wins as well, and carve out several moments throughout your day to see something you are proud of, this will increase your dopamine levels.