How to compensate for shortage of key ADHD drug

There’s a national shortage of Adderall, but UW Medicine psychologist Maggie Sibley thinks that people who rely on the prescription drug to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can compensate in a number of ways. 

“The first thing they should do is talk to their doctor, because ADHD is kind of a personalized-care model,” said Sibley, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “There's a lot of options out there, but what works for whom depends on several factors about you, about your biology, about your lifestyle.” 

The shortage is due to surging demand and manufacturing delays, and has left some patients vulnerable to withdrawal symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the drug could be hard to find until the new year. The shortage mostly affects adults, but some children also rely on Adderall to calm ADHD, Sibley said. 

“I think that the treatment in the field of ADHD is greatly shifting right now and we need to be attentive to the different factors that are influencing that,” she said. “And we've got some important questions to ask ourselves about what is the definition of this disorder and who do we think qualifies for treatment for this disorder? I think those are big-picture questions for the field that are relevant in this situation, as well.” 

In broadcast-ready soundbites, Sibley describes the uses of Adderall, the reasons behind the problem and how patients might compensate during the shortage.  

Image credit: Tony Webster via Wikimedia Creative Commons (cropped to fit page).

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