We are now in month 9 of the most recent national shortage of ADHD medications. How did we get here? There are several influences at work here.
First, there is a labor shortage at one of the largest suppliers of ADHD medications. Second, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of prescriptions for ADHD medications since the quarantine of 2020. More people are realizing the negative effects of ADHD as they have been limited to online conferencing and work-at-home environments. Third, ADHD medications are Schedule 2 controlled substances. Schedule 2 classification carries restrictions for many drugs, such as opioids. These restrictions mandate quotas of the basic ingredients used by pharmaceutical companies to produce these medications. The most important ingredient? Amphetamines. It is because of these quotas that drug companies are complaining that they cannot keep up with the demand due to supply restrictions. The drug companies are pointing fingers at the DEA, and the DEA is pointing fingers back at the drug companies in the usual blame game that happens with bureaucracy.
As a result of these shortages, people are scrambling to fill prescriptions by calling every pharmacy in their area. Unfortunately, the shortage that has taken over their local pharmacy has affected every other pharmacy in their area. How do we survive this shortage? Well, it is not easy, but here are some suggestions recommended by the public.
First, consult with your doctor to see if you can receive a prescription for a different medication. The alternative medication may not be as effective, but some meds are better than no meds.
Second, ask your doctor if it is ok to skip a day or two per week and save the meds for days when the demands on your executive function are at their highest (e.g., taking off weekends and saving the meds for workdays might be a workaround).
Third, if you are going to skip taking meds on certain days, be sure to replace them with a multivitamin and keep yourself in the habit of taking your tablets every day. People with ADHD can have difficulties when a routine gets interrupted getting back on course.
Fourth, ADHD meds are distributed in 30-day cycles. I have found that my pharmacy will only refill my ADHD prescription on day 28 at the earliest. Therefore, when I get a new bottle of meds, I immediately take two doses out of the bottle and squirrel them away for emergencies such as this shortage. When I get down to the last dose in the main bottle, I immediately send a request to my doctor and have my refill waiting for me on day 28. Each month I am saving two doses. It is not a lot, but every little bit helps in times such as these.
Fifth, take care of yourself. The body thrives on more than just medications. Get restful sleep. Do daily exercise. Make sure to get some sunlight. Eat healthily. Take your vitamins.
Sixth, remember your strategies. Days without your meds are hard enough. To temper your tendency to lose all control of your day, remember to employ your strategies to keep you going. The end of the day is tough. Our decision-making resources are tapped. Try to make as much preparation in the morning as you can to be used in the evening when your attention supply is short. For example, cook dinner in the morning and throw it into the fridge. When you are exhausted at the end of a long day, simply pull the dinner out of the fridge and put it in the microwave. Dinner is hot in 2 minutes.
Good luck out there!
Nate Hooper, CALC
ADHD & Executive Functions Coach