Got Adderall? The Great D.E.A. Versus F.D.A. Duke-Out

Maybe you heard about The Great Adderall Shortage of 2011 that impacted “millions of children and adults” who rely on the pills to help stay focused and calm? Maybe you haven’t.

In terms of national crises, like joblessness and obesity, I wouldn’t rank it at the top of the list (although a country producing drug-addicted college graduates should be a concern), and yet it’s become very much a crisis for people dependent, or more accurately, addicted to the drug.

At the heart of the shortage is an ever-growing struggle between the F.D.A., who recently included several attention-deficit disorder drugs on its official shortages list, and the D.E.A. who is trying to minimize abuse by people, many of them college students who use the medication as a study aid.

It’s become so much of a problem in academia that colleges like Duke University have issued new policies to address misuse, qualifying it as cheating:

The unauthorized use of prescription medication to enhance academic performance has been added to the definition of Cheating.

The D.E.A., who authorizes a certain amount the core ingredient of Adderall — mixed amphetamine salts — to be released to drugmakers each year based on what the agency considers to be the country’s legitimate medical need, finds itself embroiled in a growing epidemic.

In 2010, more than 18 million prescriptions were written for Adderall, up 13.4 percent from 2009, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription data.

As someone who has been on, and gotten off Adderall, I’m steadfastly in the D.E.A.’s corner. It is a highly addictive drug with serious side effects, especially after continued use, and can create more problems than it solves. Go to any ADHD forum/message board and read the testimonials of folks dealing with its impacts.

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  1. You inaccurately use addiction as a synonym for dependence. Physical dependence happens when the body becomes habituated to a drug such that withdrawal symptoms occur when the drug is withheld. This is normal and a predictable effect of many, many drugs, which is why doctors warn you not to stop a medication without consulting them. This even applies to drugs like antidepressants and many, many others.

    Addiction is a serious disorder characterized by compulsive and uncontrollable use of a substance despite continuing negative consequences and harmful results from continued use. Someone who is dependent on a drug but uses it as directed per a physicians instructions is NOT addicted even though his body has become habituated to the drug, because his use is not compulsive. But someone who is not dependent but who runs through his whole supply before going out on the street to illegally acquire more is definitely displaying signs of being addicted.

    To equate addiction to mere dependence does a great disservice to the millions who suffer from addiction. Get your facts straight.

    1. @andrew at nowhere in the post do i use dependence synonymously with addiction. i think adderall (amphetamines) is highly addictive and causes people to continue to use the drug despite negative consequences.

  2. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD over and over. My solution? I run. A lot. 3 marathons this year! Calms and focuses my mind. Yoga too. And I feel great! It does, however, take more effort than a trip to the pharmacy. I also tried a natural remedy called addieup but overall the best thing for me so far has been exercise!

  3. @ Amy. I think you are very biased and misinformed. Your abuse and negative experience with amphetamines causes you to ignore the fact that many people have benefited from taking adderall, myself included. Your grammar is terrible, your facts are skewed by your opinion, and to second what @ Andrew said. You DO use the terms ‘addiction’ and ‘dependence’ when you say

    “for people dependent, or more accurately, addicted to the drug.”

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that you imply that anyone using adderall is an addict. Not everyone abuses prescription drugs like you have. Get your facts straight and give people a break who benefit from this drug as a medicine.

    Also You should capitalize the first word of every sentence, and ‘I’s should always be capital when they are referring to yourself as a subject.

    1. Matt – I would have to disagree. I don’t think of Adderall as medicine because that implies that you are sick. I also don’t think that Adderall helps people unless it encourages them to discontinue use at some point.

      Unfortunately, many people are told or accept that they are lifelong users of the “medicine”. In fact, they consistently argue with me when I say they should get off of it. Unable to get off, deny that they are overusing….is that not addiction?

      Please don’t forget that this whole conversation is being pushed by the massive drug industry. In the psychology industry the value of Adderall is constantly debated. Half of the field, called psychologists, specifically resist drug prescriptions and take a massive income loss in doing so. They believe that the “medicine” is psychotherapy and lifestyle changes.

      The other half of the field, called psychiatrists, specifically become accredited to administer drugs. They believe that helping people sometimes involves drugs and sometimes not. Still, the whole profession does not support long term use of the drug, mostly because the long term effects are mostly unknown.

      Like I said, unfortunately, most of this is forgotten in the massive marketing and lobbying campaigns that Big-Pharma puts out.

      1. I am with you on the adderall problem and being in the D.E.A.’s corner on this one, especially after the photos of Demi and hearing that she was addicted to adderall. She looks like it. I also like alternatives like Addieup that were mentioned because they it is natural and does not have the side efects

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