The media has dubbed this year's dry spell of ADD meds as the Great Adderall Shortage of 2011.
And for Angelenos, at least, it looks like the drought may carry over into the new year. (Don't worry, the hopeful bit comes later.) Venice Beach advice columnist Amy Alkon, known for roasting L.A. city departments and her noisy neighbors, is now on a tear about apparent government restrictions on drug companies. Alkon says she's frantic to get her hands on some pills, seeing as Adderall has “changed my writing life from daily torture that I slogged through because I'm a hard worker to sometimes-hard work I love.”
Been there, girl! Reason followed up on her column today with an explanation…
… much like many explanations before it. Basically, everyone wants Adderall, whether to study-bomb for finals or treat legitimate ADD. (And even that distinction is hard to make).
However, as with any controlled substance, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regulates the amount of active Adderall ingredient that drug companies can distribute each year. The DEA, of course, feels it has provided drugmakers with a generous supply. “We've given them quota sufficient to meet the needs and then it's up to them how they manufacture their product,” an official tells MSNBC.
Those who need (and want) more Adderall obviously disagree.
So some are blaming the shortage on the easiest targets: college kids who procrastinated all semester and now need some cram juice for finals.
All right, y'all — anecdote time. Having recently been in that situation myself, and now being in the adult-ish workplace, I can safely say that I “needed” it just as much then as I do now. I would consider myself the same dreamy, chaotic type as many who seek Adderall prescriptions. I probably don't have ADD. But lord knows I get twice as much done, with a much bigger smile on my face, when I've got a little blue pill to help me sort through a world of information.
Which reminds me: You know that movie “Limitless,” about the miracle drug that allows Bradley Cooper to access all parts of his mind at once, then conquer Wall Street/the universe with all his newfound brainpower? Yeah, that wasn't fiction. That was Adderall.
Studies have shown it's not even about improving cognitive performance — just about enjoying it more. From Street Carnage:
Doctors say that it doesn't actually make you smarter or concentrate more, it just makes you feel like you are by dumping a dose of dopamine onto the brain's reward system. With all this dope in the dome, you feel a euphoria that makes the task at hand more bearable and worthwhile. Basically, it makes shoveling shit fun.
Sounds about right. Like legal ecstasy, incognito! The perfect antidote to the narcissistic, indecisive, reward-fueled mess that is the neurology of the new generation. And in many doctors' offices, getting an ADD diagnosis, and subsequent golden prescription, is as easy as convincing a kush doctor to prescribe you some “medical” pot.
Does this mean Adderall is being abused? Just because everyone wants it? Plus, unlike pot, it doesn't cloud your head — just puts you to work more efficiently. (OK, I sound like a true doper now. How we've devolved from hunter-gatherer days of brain cells and sleep patterns!)
The less-government hounds at Reason have it right:
Notice that the Tampa Bay Times, hewing to prohibitionist orthodoxy, describes using Adderall to study for an exam as “abusing the drug”–unless, of course, the student has jumped through the requisite hoops, saying the right things to qualify for a diagnosis and earn the magical slip of paper that transforms abuse into medicine. Why empower doctors to decide who “really” needs Adderall when adults should be able to decide that for themselves?
Now that we've thoroughly legitimized your habit: Hold tight, Los Angeles. There could be hope yet.
Drug manufacturers tell MSNBC that “as they receive their new DEA allocations in the new year, the shortages may subside.” That is, until next year, when we can expect another flurry of panicked bloggers and personal-freedom advocates to do the more amphetamines march all over again.