Idaho and the rest of the country are experiencing an Adderall shortage. Adderall is the drug most commonly used to treat ADHD in children and adults. The shortage is primarily due to the increased demand for the drug, especially for adults. During the pandemic, adult prescriptions increased by 15%. Manufacturing delays have also created more of a demand issue.

A record 44.1 million Adderall prescriptions were written in 2021. An estimated 251,370 of those prescriptions were written in Idaho. The pandemic saw a massive increase in these prescriptions because ads flooded Tik Tok and other social media advertising Adderall for anyone that felt distracted.  Deregulation on telemedicine made it easier to diagnose ADHD.

This is concerning for several reasons. The first is that it shouldn't be this easy to get a Schedule II controlled substance. It is as addictive as other Schedule II narcotics like OxyContin, Percocet, fentanyl, heroin, morphine, codeine, and other opioids.

Second, according to a 2010 study by Michigan State University, roughly 1 million children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD. In Idaho, 8% of all children between 3-17 are currently diagnosed with ADHD, and nearly 60% are being treated with medication. That is a higher percentage than in California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, and several others.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is an amphetamine that combines the salts amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

What does Adderall do?

It depends on the patient. For someone who truly has ADHD, it will improve their focus and concentration. For someone that doesn't have ADHD, Adderall will also enhance focus and concentration, along with producing more dopamine. This leads to a feeling of euphoria and increased energy levels.

Why is the shortage dangerous?

The inability to get Adderall legally could drive some to find other ways of getting it or substituting it with illicit drugs such as meth. Methamphetamine can have similar effects on people that don't have ADHD.

Adderall sold on the street is often laced with other, more dangerous substances like fentanyl. Fentanyl-related deaths more than tripled in Idaho between 2020 and 2021.  This could potentially lead to overdoses of other drugs.  Even non-ADHD Adderall users are safer getting their medication from a pharmacy, where they know the drug isn't laced with something else.

The use of Adderall by non-ADHD patients makes it even harder to get for those who genuinely need it for ADHD or narcolepsy.

When will the Adderall shortage be over?

The FDA refuses to change restrictions on the production of the drug, which means that this problem will likely continue until March.

If you have an Adderall prescription, make sure to call around. Some Boise-area pharmacies have enough in stock to fill your script. Others do not. They are getting it in, but they are getting it in different quantities than they used to. In some cases, you'll need to switch pharmacies, which isn't easy with a controlled substance.  Another option would be to discuss with your physician about switching to the extended-release version, which is still available.

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