Drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have been used for years by people who do not actually have ADHD to supplement their brain power and as a sort of Viagra for the soul, but it appears those days are nearing their end: The feds have taken notice, and they are not happy! See Amy Alkon's reporting on the DEA-engineered shortage of the ADHD drug Ritalin at pharmacies across the country, and more recently, anecdotes from creative New York types who are bemoaning a shortage of Ritalin's (allegedly) amazing successor drug, Adderall:
"Okay, this is a real problem," began a frenzied email to the [New York Observer]. "Brian," who works at a fashion magazine in Manhattan, was distraught, explaining: "I had a horror of a time filling my last scrip. Duane Reade and CVS are both fucked citywide."
"Brian" was referring to his prescription of Adderall XR. A shortage of Adderall—an amphetamine ostensibly used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder—was recently reported by the Wall Street Journal. A deadstock crisis is notable for the potential to wreck havoc on creative classes, students of all ages (during finals!), and then, of course, people actually prescribed it.
Adderall manufacturer Shire PLC blames the FDA for not boosting supply of amphetamine in December. The FDA has shrugged off responsibility, explaining that they did, in fact, approve the proper amount.
Can you imagine how your life would fall apart if you did not have a cup of Folgers (the only redeeming part of waking up) to get you from your lumpy mattress into your ill-fitting polyester suit down some pot-hole-riddled expressway and into your fluorescent-lit hamster cage? Well, ADHD drugs, (which perfectly healthy people with good insurance can get prescriptions for from just about any general physician, and which poor people can buy from their friends with good insurance plans for really cheap) are basically coffee for people born around the time the Challenger exploded, and also older people who are not scared to pretend to have a disease that no one they know actually has.
But now, thanks to the worriers at the DEA and the FDA, young New Yorkers (and, who knows, young Chicagoans? Young Orlandoans? Young Ann Arborans?) have all been reduced to working their smart phones like junkies:
Calls to other Duane Reades around Manhattan yielded various results: some were "expecting a shipment," others curiously explained that they only carry it on a customer-by-customer basis.
A woman at another location asked how much we needed: "Twenty? Yeah, I have enough." The Duane Reade pharmacist near "Brian's" office explained.
I've heard about people calling multiple general physicians until they find one who will prescribe psychotropics without a pscyhe evaluation (this is called "doctor shopping" and it is for some stupid reason illegal), but having to call multiple pharmacies is just ridiculous. Will the well-educated bougie libertines who comprise the creative class settle for life unaltered? Let's hope not. Their Adderall-inspired contributions to the fields of "getting the best grades," "microblogging," and "partying hard" are invaluable.
ADDENDUM: A reader with ADHD has emailed me to say that the Adderall shortage made her an "absolute wreck for about a week earlier this month." I would like to clarify that I believe there are lots of people who need ADHD drugs to do their jobs at all, and that the FDA and DEA denying actual ADHD sufferers access to their scrips in order to punish people who use it for performance enhancement is especially cruel, tin-eared, and entirely consistent with the government's attitude toward controlled substances.
ADDENDUM 2: Joshua in the comments: "I take Adderall & I'm concerned that Riggs didn't stress enough the freedom angle here." Guilty. So let me now say that it is an issue of personal freedom, and that regardless of why you want them, ADHD drugs should be available over the counter, just like Gatorade.