Adderall Alternatives to Consider Following the 2022 Shortage

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Alternatives for the 2022 Adderall Shortage

In October 2022, the FDA announced a shortage of immediate-release Adderall due to manufacturing delays and insufficient supplies. Adderall is often an integral part of treatment for those with ADHD or narcolepsy, and the possibility of missing your medication can be both frustrating and stressful. 

In the guide below, we explore alternatives you can pursue to maintain your health and well-being until the shortage is resolved. Information provided about each medication includes its drug class, what it’s used to treat, potential side effects, interactions, and health warnings. You can use this information to consult with your healthcare provider when choosing an appropriate prescription for your condition.  
If you’re seeking an Adderall alternative for your ADHD treatment because of the shortage, Klarity can help.  At Klarity, we connect you with a qualified online healthcare provider who can prescribe ADHD medication. Book an appointment today to see a healthcare provider in just 48 hours.

Licensed providers on Klarity provide personalized mental health treatment. Find a provider that matches your needs and preferences.

1. Ritalin

Like Adderall, Ritalin is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that increases the brain’s production of norepinephrine and dopamine. This activity allows you to focus and helps you control impulsive behavior. Ritalin does not last as long as Adderall, with its effects wearing off after two to three hours, but it can be a useful alternative.

Side Effects of Ritalin

Ritalin has several common side effects that include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations or increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Skin rash
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Psychosis
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Vision problems

Warnings for Ritalin

You should not take Ritalin within two weeks of taking one of the following MAO inhibitors:

  • Methylene blue injection
  • Linezolid
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Phenelzine
  • Selegiline
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Rasagiline

Ritalin can create or exacerbate psychosis, leading to changes in behavior or mood. If you experience bipolar disorder or depression, talk to your healthcare professional to ensure that Ritalin will work with your current plan of care. 

Talk to your care provider if you have a history of substance misuse to determine if Ritalin is the right medication for you.

2. Focalin

Focalin is a Schedule II central nervous system (CNS) stimulant similar to Adderall and Ritalin. Focalin works by stimulating the brain to produce more norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, helping to improve focus and control impulsive behavior. While Focalin does not last as long as Adderall, with its effects wearing off after two to three hours, it can still be a useful option for managing ADHD symptoms.

Side Effects of Focalin

It is essential to discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider before starting Focalin. They can provide personalized information based on your specific health condition, medical history, and other medications you may be taking. If you experience any concerning or severe side effects while taking Focalin, it is recommended to consult your healthcare provider for further guidance.

Focalin may cause several common side effects, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations or increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Skin rash
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Psychosis
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Vision problems

Warnings for Focalin 

Do not take Focalin within two weeks of using MAO inhibitors. This combination can lead to potentially fatal conditions such as Serotonin Syndrome and hypertensive crisis, characterized by excessive serotonin levels and sudden spikes in blood pressure, respectively. 

Those with a history of psychosis, bipolar disorder, or depression should consult their healthcare professional to ensure Focalin is compatible with their current treatment plan. Focalin can potentially interact with medications prescribed for these mental health conditions or exacerbate underlying symptoms.

3. Concerta

Concerta is classified as a Schedule II central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that belongs to the class of medications known as methylphenidate. It works by increasing norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain, providing extended-release effects that last up to 12 hours. This long-acting medication can be helpful for those with ADHD who need to focus on tasks throughout the day.

Side Effects of Concerta 

The likelihood of experiencing side effects from Concerta can vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience side effects, others may not experience any or may only experience mild effects. If your side effects last longer than two weeks or become severe, contact your healthcare provider right away.

Common side effects of Concerta may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations or increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Skin rash
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Psychosis
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Vision problems

Warnings for Concerta 

Avoid taking Concerta within two weeks of using MAOIs. The combination could lead to a hypertensive crisis or Serotonin Syndrome, both potentially fatal conditions.

Additionally, Concerta may potentially cause or exacerbate psychosis, leading to changes in behavior or mood. If you have bipolar disorder or depression, it’s essential to discuss with your healthcare professional whether Concerta is suitable for you.

4. Modafinil

Modafinil, also known as Provigil, is a non-amphetamine central nervous system (CNS) stimulant with effects like increased alertness, wakefulness, and attention span. Initially approved to treat narcolepsy or excessive daytime sleepiness, Modafinil has also been used to decrease impulsiveness in people with ADHD. 

Side Effects of Modafinil

Some side effects of Modafinil may dissipate once your body grows accustomed to the medication. These common side effects include nausea, headache, anxiety, and nervousness.

If you experience any of these less common side effects, contact your healthcare provider:

  • Black stool
  • Blurry vision
  • Chest pain
  • Chills or fever
  • Clumsiness
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Depression
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Changes in mood
  • Memory issues
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Shakiness
  • Tics
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Abnormal tiredness or weakness

Contact emergency medical care if you’ve overdosed and are agitated, have an increased heart rate or blood pressure, and have trouble sleeping.

Warnings for Modafinil

Modafinil can cause severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. If you experience skin rashes, itching, shortness of breath, hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or swelling of the hands, face, and mouth, stop taking Modafinil and seek medical attention immediately. 

Modafinil can also reduce the efficiency of some birth control medications. If you’re taking this medication with contraceptives, use other forms of protection if you do not wish to become pregnant. 

Serotonin Syndrome Warning: Modafinil, when combined with certain medications or substances, can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. Inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking to ensure there are no potential interactions that could lead to serotonin syndrome. 

If you experience symptoms such as agitation, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, or muscle stiffness, seek immediate medical attention.

Modafinil Interactions

You should always consult your care provider if you’re taking any other medications or have preexisting conditions or allergies before taking a new medication. 

Modafinil interacts with 449 other medications and nine diseases. Of the medications, the most frequently checked moderate interactions are Lexapro and Wellbutrin. Major interactions with diseases include:

  • Cardiac disease
  • Hypertension
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Liver disease

5. Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin, also known by its generic name, bupropion, is a medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as aminoketones. It is primarily used as an antidepressant but is also FDA-approved for the treatment of ADHD. It is not a CNS stimulant like the other medications mentioned—instead, it affects the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine to balance brain chemistry

Side Effects of Wellbutrin 

Not everyone who takes Wellbutrin will experience side effects, and some individuals may only experience mild or temporary effects. However, it’s important to note that there are potential side effects associated with the use of Wellbutrin.

Common side effects of Wellbutrin may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures (rare, but can occur, especially at higher doses)

Warnings for Wellbutrin 

Inform your healthcare provider if you have a history of seizures, eating disorders, or bipolar disorder, as Wellbutrin may not be suitable for individuals with these conditions.

Wellbutrin can interact adversely with other medications, so it’s important to be thorough when discussing your medications and medical history with your healthcare provider.

Serotonin Syndrome Warning: Wellbutrin carries a potential risk of serotonin syndrome, a serious condition that may occur when using medications that affect serotonin levels in the brain. When taken in combination, these medications can cause the brain to become flooded with serotonin, resulting in symptoms like agitation, confusion, rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, muscle rigidity, fever, or sweating. Severe causes of serotonin syndrome can cause seizures, or loss of consciousness. 

If you think you may have serotonin syndrome, seek medical assistance immediately. To mitigate the risk of inducing this condition, it is essential to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking, including prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements.

6. Strattera

Strattera, known by its generic name atomoxetine, belongs to the class of drugs known as selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It works by increasing norepinephrine levels in the brain, helping to improve attention span and reduce impulsive behavior. Strattera is a long-acting medication that can help control the symptoms of ADHD throughout the day.

Side Effects of Strattera 

As your body acclimates to Strattera, you may experience mild to moderate side effects for several days, or up to two weeks. 

Common side effects of Strattera may include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Erectile dysfunction or changes in sexual desire

Warnings for Strattera 

Individuals with narrow-angle glaucoma or a history of pheochromocytoma should avoid taking Strattera. Inform your healthcare provider about any existing medical conditions to ensure the medication is safe and appropriate for you.

Strattera can interact with other medications, so it’s important to disclose all your current medications to your healthcare provider to avoid potential adverse effects or drug interactions.

Strattera may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, particularly in children, adolescents, and young adults. Close monitoring for changes in mood or behavior is crucial while taking Strattera.

7. Guanfacine

Guanfacine, also known as Tenex or Intuniv, is a non-stimulant prescription medication in the alpha agonist class. The extended-release form of Guanfacine impacts the part of the brain that controls impulsiveness and attention and can be used to treat symptoms of ADHD.

Side Effects of Guanfacine

Guanfacine has several common side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Skin rash
  • Impotence
  • Constipation
  • Headache

If you experience an allergic reaction to Guanfacine, stop taking it and contact your healthcare provider. 

Warnings for Guanfacine

Take Guanfacine exactly as directed by your care provider. If you experience excessive drowsiness, slowed heart rate, vision loss, confusion, or feeling like you might pass out, you may have overdosed. Seek emergency medical attention immediately. 

Additionally, this medication may not be right for you if you have a history of cardiovascular, liver, or kidney disease. 

Serotonin Syndrome Warning: Although rare, combining Guanfacine with certain medications or substances can potentially increase the risk of serotonin syndrome—a condition caused by excess serotonin in the brain. 

If you experience symptoms such as agitation, confusion, rapid heartbeat, tremors, or excessive sweating, seek immediate medical attention.

Guanfacine Interactions

Guanfacine interacts with 422 medications and five diseases. Of the medications most frequently checked for interactions, five are moderate interactions, including: 

  • Abilify
  • Benadryl
  • Concerta
  • Seroquel
  • Wellbutrin

Guanfacine also has moderate interactions with the following disease:

  • Depression
  • Hypotension
  • Liver disease
  • Bradyarrhythmia

You should also avoid consuming grapefruit juice when taking Guanfacine, as it can increase blood levels and the side effects of the medication. 

Summary of Adderall Shortage Alternatives

If you’re looking for an alternative to Adderall to get you through the shortage, you have options, including stimulant, non-stimulant and naturopathic medications. 

The options discussed in this guide are the most common alternatives, and they include: 

  • Ritalin: Fast-acting CNS stimulant that may be the best alternative to Adderall, as it is the most similar.
  • Focalin: Provides symptom management similar to Adderall  by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, helping to improve focus and reduce impulsivity. Comes in immediate-release and extended-release formulations.
  • Concerta: Extended-release CNS stimulant that offers a sustained effect throughout the day, providing continuous symptom control.
  • Modafinil: Milder-acting stimulant with potentially fewer negative side effects compared to Adderall.
  • Wellbutrin: Atypical antidepressant that affects the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, contributing to improved focus and attention.
  • Strattera: Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that increases the availability of norepinephrine in the brain, helping to improve attention and reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity. 
  • Guanfacine: Non-stimulant medication that helps improve focus and reduce impulsivity, although results may take longer to notice.

Consult a healthcare professional before making any medication changes to ensure the best decision for your needs.

How Klarity Can Help You

When shortages make it difficult to access your usual prescription medication, it’s vital that you have access to an alternative treatment as quickly and affordably as possible. 

With Klarity, you can meet with a certified medical professional within 48 hours from the comfort of your home. They’ll evaluate your treatment needs and medical history to recommend an alternative prescription. Klarity will then send that prescription to your preferred pharmacy immediately, so there are no gaps in your treatment. 

To access a qualified provider and receive an Adderall alternative as quickly as possible, schedule an appointment today. We’ll connect you to a specialist within 48 hours so you can access the treatment you need to manage your ADHD. 

Dependency Warning

Many of the medications described here are controlled substances, regulated by government agencies due to their potential for misuse. Proper prescription and usage under the guidance of medical professionals is essential to reducing the risk of dependency. 

Improper use, such as taking higher doses or using the medications for extended periods, may lead to physical or psychological dependence. The risk varies among different drugs and individuals, emphasizing the importance of adhering to prescribed instructions. 

Additionally, abrupt discontinuation or exceeding the recommended dosage can lead to withdrawal symptoms and other adverse effects. Regular communication with your healthcare provider is important for monitoring your medication use.

Schedule II controlled substances include but are not limited to: Adderall, Ritalin, Focalin, Concerta, 

Schedule IV controlled substances include but are not limited to: Modafinil

Sources:

FDA. “FDA Announces Shortage of Adderall.” FDA https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-announces-shortage-adderall

Kaci Durben, M.D. “Adderall.” Drugs.com

https://www.drugs.com/adderall.html

Alan Carter, PharmD. “Adderall vs. Ritalin: What’s the Difference?” Healthline

https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-vs-ritalin#how-they-work

Drugs.com. “Modafinil vs Adderall: What’s the difference?” Drugs.com

https://www.drugs.com/medical-answers/modafinil-adderall-difference-3125139/

Jason Williams, PhD. “Vyvamind Review: A Good Neurostimulant & Focus Aid?” Wholistic Research 

https://wholisticresearch.com/vyvamind/

Eni Williams, PharmD. “RITALIN SIDE EFFECTS CENTER” RxList

https://www.rxlist.com/ritalin-side-effects-drug-center.htm

Sanjai Sinha, MD. “Ritalin” Drugs.com

https://www.drugs.com/ritalin.html

Karl Greenblatt; Nina Amos. “Modafinil.” National Library of Medicine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531476/#:~:text=Indications-,Modafinil%20is%20a%20non%2Damphetamine%20central%20nervous%20system%20(CNS),that%20cause%20excessive%20daytime%20sleepiness.

Vyvamind

https://vyvamind.com/

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Zoe Russell

Dr. Zoe Russell received a dual bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, pursued a master’s degree in public health from Michigan State University, and received her doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2021. Currently, Dr. Russell is completing her residency training in family medicine and hopes to specialize in female reproductive and mental health.

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