Mental Health
Pill bottle spilling out to represent Adderall shortage, especially on young people.

7 Gen Zers On Coping With The Adderall Shortage

As the shortage of ADHD medication continues, young people are finding new ways to get by.

Written by Anna Davies
Elite Daily/ Stocksy

Late last year, the FDA announced a shortage of the immediate-release formulation of amphetamine mixed salts, commonly referred to as Adderall. The problem is partially due to labor shortages within the manufacturing companies, which led to production delays, as well as increased demand for the drug — and this month, the shortage has widened to include generic Ritalin.

What does this mean? It means that your prescription may not be filled.

“Shortages of any product can be anxiety-provoking. We are all used to the comforts of modern living, where anything not at the corner store can be delivered in a day or two,” said Dr. Jacques Jospitre, Jr., M.D., a psychiatrist and co-founder of SOHOMD, a teletherapy and telepsychiatry platform. “When it comes to medications, the supply concerns are rightfully amplified.” Many people rely on Adderall to help them function in the world, which means that losing access to the medication feels especially fraught. “However, most people are fine to come off the medication without worrying about dangerous side effects,” Josipitre added.

Unsurprisingly, Josipitre advises against DIY rationing methods, and strongly cautions against borrowing medication. He does recommend that you speak with your doctor if the Adderall shortage is affecting you. Your doctor can help you assess your options, which may include trying a new medication, changing your current dose, or incorporating lifestyle shifts alongside medication management.

The good thing? Your doctor has heard it all. And if you can’t fill your prescription or are stressing out, let them know. They won’t judge, but they will help you figure out your options. Here, seven people share how they’re managing the Adderall shortage.

I’ve been sharing with my mom

“My mom also has ADHD, and she has an Adderall prescription. She has more pharmacies near her than I do, and more time to hop from pharmacy to pharmacy, so she’s been more successful getting her prescription filled. So she’s been going without it, and she’s been sending it to me. I feel bad — she needs it, and she’s mentioned feeling tired and cranky at work, but she knows how much I spiral without it. It’s not a good situation for either of us.” — Janelle, 22, Brooklyn, New York

I practice self-care

“When I began noticing that my prescriptions weren’t filling in early fall, I got really anxious. My doctor and I talked through my options, and I decided to really focus on what I could control, including my sleep, my eating, and my exercise routines. I felt like that could help me see where and how the medication affected me. Through that, I realized I didn’t need Adderall on the weekends, and I only really needed it Monday through Thursday. This has sort of given me a runway, because my doctor is still prescribing a full monthly dose, but because I have pills leftover, I’m not so stressed if it doesn’t get filled.” — Kacie, 26, Pooler, Georgia

I’ve been rationing

“Every single project, I’m like, ‘Do I really need this?’ In my normal life, I take two 10mg pills a day. But now I’m hoarding them. I’ve been dividing them in half, and trying to just go through the afternoon without any. But it’s not good. I’m always thinking about my pill container and always adding them up. One time, when I was doing it, a bunch fell on the floor and I had to dig through the cracks to get them out.” — Chloe, 24, Worcester, Massachusetts

I switched medication

“I talked with my doctor, and we decided to see how Ritalin worked. It’s fine, but it’s not the same. I’m jumpy, my eating is all over the place, and I feel like we shook up what was a good thing only because actually getting Adderall is impossible.” — Kelsey, 23, Jersey City, New Jersey

I’ve gotten on a first-name basis with my pharmacist

“I used to get all my prescriptions filled online. But since the Adderall shortage, I began using a local pharmacy on the advice of my doctor. At first, they told me that I was out of luck, because they were prioritizing current customers. But I think they took some sympathy on me. I moved all my prescriptions to this pharmacy and am now on a first-name basis with the pharmacist. But I’m also in school, and the pharmacy is open 9 to 5, and I’ve found that getting my meds has become a two-hour ordeal. When I get a call that it’s available, I drop everything and head over there. I’ve skipped class to get my Adderall. It’s worth it, but it shouldn’t have to be so hard.” — Jasmine, 23, West New York, New Jersey

I’m going without

“I’ve always been one of those ‘on-the-fence’ Adderall people. I got a prescription in college, but it was easy to get it, and I wasn’t always the most responsible about taking it. So I decided the shortage was a good time to go cold turkey. It felt wrong to have some when people who really needed it didn’t have it. But I do miss it, and I can see the ways in which it did benefit me and my work. It’s tough.” — Annie, 24, Kirkland, Washington

We pool our supplies

“My housemate and my boyfriend both have prescriptions. Between the three of us, someone has enough medication. So we’ve sort of been sharing on an as-needed basis. I don’t stress if my prescription isn’t in, because I know my boyfriend can float me a few days, and then I’ll return the favor. So far, everyone has been able to get their prescription filled within a week or so, but I worry if the shortage continues then our little communal system won’t work anymore.” — Liv, 27, Bend, Oregon

Expert cited:

Dr. Jacques Jospitre, Jr., M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist and co-founder of SOHOMD, a national teletherapy and telepsychiatry platform for integrative and personalized mental health care.