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4 Tips to Manage the ADHD Medication Shortage

Updated Oct 23 (Ugh...)

Yes, the medication shortage is real. No, it’s not new — this shortage has been happening for a long time... too long for the approximately 16 million people in the United States and the many more across the globe who rely on ADHD medication to be productive, focused, and stable while having ADHD.

Why is there a shortage?

There are really two simple reasons why there is an ADHD meds shortage right now: supply and demand. On the supply side, the pharmaceutical companies that develop ADHD stimulants are short-staffed and struggling to produce the product as quickly as it is needed.

On the demand side, the need for ADHD medications has risen significantly in the past few years. As we get more adept at diagnosing ADHD, especially in adults and especially in adult women, demand for stimulant medications like Adderall has risen dramatically – 16% over the past three years or so. For many of the adults that I work with, Adderall is one treatment that is crucial for daily functioning, both at work and at home.

If you are taking ADHD medication and cannot fill your regular prescription, what can you do?

It might sound scary to hear that your much-needed ADHD medication is in short supply, but stay calm. There are things you can do to make it through this. Here is a list of steps you can take immediately to help weather the shortage.

(And, since your attention span might be somewhat limited right now, I have kept this as brief as possible!)

1) Talk to your doctor ASAP.

  • See if there is an alternative ADHD medication that you can try. One of my clients found she could not get her prescription filled for generic medication, but when she asked her doctor to write a prescription for non-generic, the pharmacy had it. She was looking at months without her needed medication, so asking for an alternative solution brought her relief.

  • Get creative with your doctor about dosage and schedules. For example, rather than one extended-release dose in the morning, can you get a prescription for multiple short-acting doses to take throughout the day?

  • Add in Omega-3/6 fatty acids with your doctor’s approval. Studies have shown that Omega-3/6 fatty acids can help reduce ADHD symptoms.

Here is a helpful link from the FDA that describes various pharmaceutical companies that produce ADHD medications that you can share with your doctor.

2) Keep on top of it with your pharmacist.

  • Talk to your local pharmacist (not the pharmacy staff or tech), letting them know you are having a hard time obtaining medication. Enlist them as a medication sleuth, looking to see if other pharmacy locations have your medication in stock or looking to see when your medication might become available.

  • Drive to all pharmacies in your area to see what they have in stock (most will not tell you over the phone because ADHD stimulants are controlled substances).

  • Wait a couple of days and drive around again (yes, make a nuisance of yourself).

  • Curb your frustration with pharmacy staff. They are struggling with this shortage, too, and you will have more luck getting your medication if you show them courtesy and respect.

3) Try non-medication strategies.

  • Reduce responsibilities as much as possible. Have less to follow through on.

  • Make it possible to sleep on a more regular schedule. ADHD rages when you don’t get regular sleep!

  • Exercise, even just a little bit. Research shows exercise can be like medication for ADHD.

  • Start doing quick mindfulness practices now. It works to reduce ADHD symptoms. For example, you can try

  • --> Learn more about how to develop helpful habits here.<--

  • Return to self-management tactics that have helped in the past. Remember those?

  • Start new tactics to help you feel better about yourself and get things done. Put yourself back in charge as much as possible with external tactics.

4) Educate Yourself About Your ADHD.

Join an ADHD event or read a book. Take a class. Arming yourself with a deeper understanding of how ADHD affects you and approaches that work for adults with ADHD will help you cope more effectively. Here are some workshops, events, and books that we recommend.

Classes, Workshops & Events


Not having access to your regular ADHD prescription will impact you, but it doesn’t mean you have to panic. Don't pretend like you can do all of the things in the same way without your medication. That will only lead to self-shaming and frustration. Talk to your doctor. Try new-to-you non-medication ADHD treatment approaches. Arm yourself to weather the shortage!



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