Health & Lifestyle

America’s Adderall shortage ‘is driving ADHD patients to use METH’ – as Britney Spears’ ex says he feared she’d overdose on prescription drug

  • The Adderall shortage, announced by the FDA in October 2022, is persisting
  • Meth and Adderall help redress the dopamine imbalance in people with ADHD
  • Social worker Garrett Reuscher said ADHD patients are asking him about meth
  • READ MORE: Mother, 52, suffering from daily seizures says ketamine saved her

America’s Adderall shortage is driving ADHD patients to use meth in its place, social workers have claimed.

The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) announced an official Adderall shortage in October 2022, but people are still struggling to get their hands on the medication over a year later.

People can become reliant on the drug, meaning if they stop taking it suddenly, they cannot think or function properly. This dependence can drive people with ADHD to the black market to get their dopamine hit.

Both meth and Adderall are amphetamines and central nervous stimulants which help redress the dopamine imbalance in people with ADHD.

Garrett Reuscher, a licensed social worker in New York who counsels people who use drugs, told The Daily Beast that clients who have ADHD but have never tried meth before have started ‘inquiring about safer meth use, inquiring about the effects, [saying] “I can’t get my medication. I need to find something to help me function.”‘

It comes as Britney Spears’ ex, Adnan Ghalib, recently said he feared the pop star would overdose on Adderall back in 2008.

Adderall prescriptions have steadily increased over the last 12 years. The figures include prescriptions for both Adderall, brand and generic, in the US

Adderall prescriptions have steadily increased over the last 12 years. The figures include prescriptions for both Adderall, brand and generic, in the US

Prescriptions for Adderall surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2020, just before the virus erupted across America, the drug made up 1.1% of drugs. By September 2022, the figure had more than doubled to 2.31% of all scripts written

The ongoing Adderall issue has been attributed to worker and supply shortages at the Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, which made one out of four branded and generic Adderall pills dispensed at US pharmacies last year.

It is also linked to soaring rates of new prescriptions being doled out during the pandemic when telehealth services proliferated, thanks to Covid-era prescription rule that loosened the criteria.

Adderall is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and contains a mixture of stimulants amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

Almost five million American adults use prescription stimulants such as Adderall. In 2021, 41.4 million prescriptions for the drug were dispensed. 

People can become reliant on the drug, meaning if they stop taking it suddenly, they feel like they cannot think or function properly.

Withdrawal symptoms can include depression, irritability, headaches, oversleeping, insomnia, tiredness and nightmares.

Both meth and Adderall can be abused. Britney Spears‘ ex, Adnan Ghalib, said he was worried his girlfriend was taking too much Adderall back in 2008, just before she was placed in mental health conservatorship under her father.

Mr Ghalib told The US Sun: ‘She took drugs that were prescribed by doctors, which were mainly Adderall – which is like legal speed in my mind.’

Elijah Hanson (pictured), 21, died by suicide in June 2022. He had suffered mental health issues for years. His family said that a recent Adderall prescription he obtained through online telehealth platform Cerebral played a role in his death

Elijah Hanson (pictured), 21, died by suicide in June 2022. He had suffered mental health issues for years. His family said that a recent Adderall prescription he obtained through online telehealth platform Cerebral played a role in his death

Britney Spears' ex, Adnan Ghalib, said he was worried his girlfriend was taking too much Adderall back in 2008, just before she was placed in mental health conservatorship under her father

Britney Spears’ ex, Adnan Ghalib, said he was worried his girlfriend was taking too much Adderall back in 2008, just before she was placed in mental health conservatorship under her father

While Britney’s Adderall use was legal, her manager was concerned she was dependent on the medication.

Her ex said: ‘I drove Britney to pick up her prescriptions at Rite Aid, and her manager at the time, Sam Lutfi, called and said: “If the prescriptions are for Adderall, you have to confiscate them.

“‘You have to get rid of it. I know it’s prescribed, but at the same time, if she takes more than her prescribed dose it could be lethal.

‘”I know she’s prescribed it, but she’s not limiting what she’s taking. You need to get rid of it.”‘

A growing awareness of what ADHD is has led to skyrocketing demand for ADHD evaluation and treatment, which means lengthy wait times for diagnosis.

Even those with a prescription are struggling to get the drug, which could leave them at risk for meth dependence. 

Meth, just like Adderall and many other ADHD medications, is an amphetamine and a central nervous system stimulant. 

People with ADHD have low levels of certain brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine, which help nerves in the brain talk to each other. Stimulant drugs increase the levels which helps improve people’s focus.

The drug is so effective for the attention disorder that there is a legal tablet form of meth FDA-approved for ADHD, but it is not often prescribed.

Meth is regulated under Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act and is primarily used as a recreational drug.

Without medical supervision, it can be incredibly dangerous and easy to overdose.

Meth-related overdoses have grown at an exponential rate in the US over the last ten years and killed more than 30,000 people in 2021. Most of the deaths involved fentanyl, too – a deadly synthetic opioid that is increasingly infiltrating drug supplies.

Many people with ADHD began using meth before their disorder was diagnosed and found the stimulant helped them to focus.

Brianna, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, is a massage therapist in Las Vegas. 

At school, she could never get straight As, and told The Daily Beast: ‘It would just be like Bs and Cs and I couldn’t understand how anybody got straight As if I was trying my hardest, you know?’

In college, she started using meth and found she was able to get straight As as well as her peers.

Now in her forties, she still buys around a gram a week to concentrate at work but admitted she is plagued by a constant fear of random drug testing.

Brianna decided she wanted to start legal treatment for ADHD but realized she would have to submit drug testing to get treatment because of her history with meth.

She decided to give up on the official route of diagnosis because she did not want to stop using meth, even for a short while, as it made it possible for her to do her job.

She said: ‘I would go to doctors and tell them, “Hey, I think this [ADHD] is my problem.” And they would say, “No, it’s because you’re a drug addict and that’s why you feel like this.”‘

Eventually, she found a doctor who diagnosed her and prescribed Adderall. This has helped her reduce the amount of meth she takes, but she has not managed to completely quit.


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