Managing Medications

“Stop Treating Us Like We’re Addicts!”

Securing stimulants amid the unrelenting shortage requires countless calls and visits to pharmacies, which can arouse unwarranted suspicions. Readers sound off about being misunderstood, invalidated, and treated like criminals.

Eighteen months into the stimulant shortage, people with ADHD have grown accustomed to enduring a certain rigamarole when trying to locate necessary medications.

In addition to draining limited reservoirs of stamina, time, and patience, the monthly ordeal of searching for stimulants often includes upsetting encounters with pharmacy staff. Among ADDitude readers who use ADHD medication, 38% report that they’ve been made to feel like a “criminal” or “addict” when trying to obtain their prescribed medication. They share stories of encountering wariness, annoyance, and even downright hostility at the pharmacy, all of which exacerbates an already exhausting ordeal. In some cases, this refill process is so fraught with negative emotion that readers report re-thinking their decision to take medication at all.

You’re not alone if you have been made to feel judged, embarrassed, or interrogated. Here, readers vent about experiences they’ve had while trying to locate prescribed stimulants in the middle of an unprecedented shortage.

For the love of all that is holy and all that is not, the pharmacies need to stop treating us like we are addicts. Yes, I am desperate to get my ADHD medication. But it is not so I can abuse it or sell it! It is because I desperately need the medication that makes my brain work well enough so that I can keep my job, so that I don’t make mistakes that might be dangerous, like getting distracted driving. Treating us, every single time, like we are possible criminals? It just makes everything so much harder.” —An ADDitude Reader

“I have to meet with the pharmacist each time I pick up my prescription, as if I don’t know what the medication does. It’s extremely embarrassing and it makes me debate whether I need to take it at all. Because I’m Black, there’s an additional layer to the stereotype of being ‘on drugs.’–Paris, California

[Read: How the Adderall Shortage Is Casting a Long Shadow on ADHD Treatment]

“I compare it to making a heart patient run a marathon before filling their medicine. They are asking us to do the hardest task (that the medicine helps us with) and then they look at you weird for making the mistakes that ADHD causes! It usually ends in tears monthly.” —Brandy, Louisiana

“I’ve had pharmacies tell me to “take my drug-seeking somewhere else” when I called to ask if they had 10 mg Adderall in stock. Others have commented that I ‘don’t look like the kind of person who uses this,’ as though ADHD has a ‘look?’” —Mel, Idaho

“I had to have the pharmacist speak to one of the techs once because she made a comment about ADHD being a ‘made up’ thing. I was incredibly offended and was made to feel ashamed.” —Jennifer, Colorado

I feel uncomfortable each time I have to get my prescription filled — a prescription that helps me function and not self-medicate as I used to prior to my diagnosis. It is incredibly frustrating!”  — An ADDitude Reader in Tennessee

[Read: “This Cannot Be the Price We Pay to Function.”]

“It’s a crappy process that I repeat for myself and both of my kids. I feel like I am begging for meds; it makes me feel looked down on and judged.” —Sarah, Washington

“I feel like a criminal every time I call a pharmacy. Often, I just go without, instead of feeling like a criminal. —Mary Kate, Massachusetts

I have to mentally prepare myself before I call the pharmacy because I never know how they’ll react. Phone calls are one of my biggest anxiety triggers, so it’s been really difficult to manage.” —Rachel, Kansas

“The pharmacy often has to revalidate the prescription, which makes me feel like I am being monitored for misuse. Increased inaccessibility makes me second-guess my choice to get medication assistance for my ADHD.” —Isabella, Ohio

“If you call for a refill a day early, you can get labeled as a drug-seeker. If something isn’t working or isn’t helping, I can’t talk to my doctor the way someone might be able to do with a sprained ankle.” —An ADDitude Reader

“We have never had a problem misusing our medications or being over-prescribed, and yet most mainstream pharmacies act like we’re trying to do something wrong when filling these prescriptions. I worry about my child not being willing to deal with this when they get older if they still need these medications.” —An ADDitude Reader

“My medication was out of stock everywhere and when I called around, the vast majority of pharmacies were very cold and callous about it and treated me like I was a crazy person for asking questions. They acted like if I needed ADHD medication I must be abusing it. Absolutely zero empathy for the fact that you can’t access a prescribed medication you need.” —An ADDitude Reader

Adderall Shortage: Next Steps

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