Architecture students combat their workload by studying together. Some with ADHD have had to rely on others to hold themselves accountable with several pharmacies unable to fill Adderall prescriptions.


When senior Shealynn Lander’s psychiatrist prescribed her Adderall to treat her attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder last July, her life instantly improved. Managing her class work, social life and everything in between just became a little easier.

But a few months later, everything changed.

The Federal Drug Administration announced a nationwide shortage of the formulation of 

amphetamine mixed salts, known commonly by the name-brand Adderall, on Oct. 12, 2022. Companies claimed they were having trouble attaining key ingredients. Since then, Adderall is no longer officially in shortage, according to the FDA drug shortage tracker, but many consumers still cannot fill their prescriptions.

“I think it was either November or December when I called to get the refill,” Lander said. “The pharmacy said ‘Oh, we don't have it.’ I was like, ‘Okay, that's fine. I'll just call back in a month whenever I'm falling out.’ And then I called back and they're like, ‘We still don't have it.’ I think I've called six times now. They still don't have it.”

Because Adderall is an amphetamine, the Drug Enforcement Agency controls the substance 

and limits how much of the raw ingredients each company can receive. Teva, the manufacturer of Adderall, claims it needs more ingredients, although the company is in surplus of the controlled substances, according to the Federal Register.

Psychiatrists and general practitioners prescribe Adderall and similar drugs, such as Ritalin or Focalin, to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Dr. Marcus O’Brien, a UAMS associate professor who currently practices at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, said he has seen an increase in the diagnoses of ADHD in the last 20 years. However, the drug shortage has not affected his practice very much.

“It really hasn't affected my prescribing any,” O’Brien said. “The main problem that I'm seeing is with the pharmacies being able to fill the medications. Some patients of mine have had to change pharmacies and actually call multiple pharmacies to try to find their medication.”

Freshman Jackie Beres worked at her local pharmacy in Dallas over winter break. She

said employees kept track of how many calls they received inquiring about their 

stock of ADHD medications every day.

At times, the tally would reach double digits. They had to turn away everyone who called.

The conversation was always short, as there was nothing pharmacy employees could do. Those calling were usually parents concerned about their children. Their reactions always differed because Adderall is not a lifesaving drug, but rather a life-changing drug, Beres said.

“You can live without it,” Beres said. “It's not like your life is dependent on it, but it's definitely helpful, and as somebody who is on Adderall and takes stimulants and has taken them for ADHD for a while, like I totally understand. You get into a routine with it, and you function better with that. And then especially if you're taking it every single day, and then you don't have it, you're just completely thrown off.”

That is exactly how Lander said she felt — thrown off. For years she had tried to avoid medication for her disorder. She learned coping skills, studied harder, listened acutely — anything she could to improve her focus.

Finally, she saw a psychiatrist and got on Adderall.

Lander, like many others, has developed some coping mechanisms to try to ease the difficulty of not being able to take the medication she needs. Sometimes she calls a friend to help keep her accountable while studying or doing classwork. Other times she just pretends she took her medicine and try to placebo her way through the day, she said. 

Although, none of these tactics are as effective as her prescription, she said.

“I think I’m not really managing it at all,” Lander said. “I think a lot of the time, it's just been hard for me because I still have the notification come up on my phone. It's like, ‘Take your pill,’ and I'm like, ‘Oh, okay. I'll just pretend that I took it or something like that.’ It doesn't really work. Wait, what was your question?” 

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