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Piecing Together Temporary Solutions
For those who do go through withdrawal, there aren’t many solutions for handling the depression and fatigue that can come with an Adderall crash, Dr. Groves said. In the meantime, it’s important for patients to maintain basic health habits: staying hydrated, eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep.
Dr. Dube said that patients who cannot access their medications should call their doctors right away and make game plans. Some doctors might recommend switching to another A.D.H.D. drug like Ritalin or Vyvanse. Not everyone will respond to every medication in the same way, though, and often patients have tried other brands and settled on Adderall because it has fewer side effects.
“Once you find your medication and you feel good with it, it’s very hard to change,” Dr. Fabrett said. “It’s not fair that we’re putting our patients in the position to make these decisions.” She advises patients to think about what they need to get through the shortage — and whether trying a new medication is worth the risk of side effects.
Patients are trying whatever they can to maintain a semblance of balance. Taryn Shumaker, a 34-year-old in Georgia, has been splitting her pills into halves or quarters — “I feel like I’m preparing my doomsday bunker,” she said.
Mr. Kenneally switched to extended-release Adderall, which he finds less effective but was told would be easier to find. He also rations his pills, going without medication sometimes on the weekends so that he has enough to get through work.
Pausing on Adderall isn’t an uncommon practice, Dr. Groves said — some patients take “medication holidays,” even when there is not a shortage, but they should only do so in consultation with their prescribers, she said. And only certain A.D.H.D. medications can be split in half, she said, so it’s important to also check with a doctor before doing so.
You can also speak with your doctor about spreading out doses, Dr. Fabrett said, or taking a lower dose. Patients can explore nonmedication options like cognitive behavioral therapy or seek a coach for people with A.D.H.D.
It’s important to remember that these are stopgap solutions though, a path for people to get from Point A to Point B, Dr. Fabrett said. “This is not going to be forever.”