Health Advice



'A horrible, perfect storm': Frustrations rise as shortage of Adderall, other ADHD medication continues

Kate Armanini, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

“The general trend is most patients are very frustrated, very exhausted trying to deal with all of this,” Gray said.

Most psychiatrists now spend “one hour a day, a few times a week” trying to locate drugs like Adderall for their patients, according to Royce Lee, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago.

“I would say every single one of my patients on Adderall and its derivatives will come across this problem,” Lee said. “It’s a very time-consuming process for everybody.”

It’s an added layer of stress on an already difficult disorder to navigate, said Rebecca Kiel, a Buffalo Grove-based therapist specializing in ADHD. Kiel has seen dozens of patients affected professionally, academically, socially and financially by the shortage.

“You’ve got people who are already struggling,” Kiel said. “Medical professionals prescribe medication as this tool, now take the tool away, and you have people struggling again with this anxiety, panic or worry because they don’t have the thing that they know was helping them.”

The crisis doesn’t appear to be abating soon. Even if Adderall was available, government agencies are wary of rapid influxes of Adderall and other prescription stimulant medications due to drug abuse, experts said.

The FDA added that it’s working to assist manufacturers with increasing production by expediting the review process. Additional supply of Adderall is expected to return in the coming months, the agency said. In October, the DEA also increased the production quota for ADHD medications with methylphenidate, which includes drugs like Concerta.


Physicians can continue to shift ADHD patients’ prescriptions to more readily available medication, though those in turn can experience shortages. Alternative treatment may also be more expensive for patients.

“It really is stressing the health care system,” Lee said. “This isn’t sustainable.”

For now, ADHD patients and parents like Howell must simply hope for the best each month as they scramble to obtain essential medication.

“It just makes me sad, and it gives me horrible anxiety to think about,” Howell said. “It’s just part and parcel of being one of the many parents with family members who have ADHD and can’t find medication.”


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