ADHD, hEDS, and The Great Adderall Shortage

Addison Smith
4 min readFeb 10, 2023

A medical crisis in the United States has yet to enter the awareness of many Americans. Nearly every drug used to treat ADHD is in short supply. Even generic drugs are hard to find.

The combination of withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled ADHD, and increased hEDS pain makes functioning precarious.

NeB_4o1 (2017) ~ [Benjamin Vincent Kasapoglu], CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The results for adults with ADHD have been dire. Even though ADHD is a recognized disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people are losing jobs because they cannot function at a high level without proper medication. Also, the shortage forces many individuals to go through withdrawal symptoms when they discover that their pharmacy is out. Sometimes, people with ADHD go without proper medication for months at a time.

I am one of those who have had to deal with Adderall withdrawal. I’m going through it as I’m writing this. Irritability, nausea, and cramping are my primary symptoms, but I’ve come close to adding vomiting a couple of times now. I have other withdrawal symptoms, like insomnia and fatigue, but I always have insomnia and fatigue due to hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), so I’m not counting those as part of the withdrawal.

But I don’t want to talk about any of that. You should check out this article from The Guardian to get the big picture of the drug shortage.

I want to talk about something much more focused, the intersection of ADHD, hEDS, and the stimulants that can help treat them both.

For reasons not clearly understood, ADHD occurs at a higher rate in people with hypermobile Ehler-Danlos Syndrome than in the general population. A study by Glans et al. showed a five-fold increase in the rate of ADHD in people with hypermobility compared with their control sample. Other studies have found that the reverse is also true; people with ADHD are more likely to have some form of hypermobility than neurotypical people. Both studies mention a developing hypothesis that some forms of hypermobility and ADHD may be a single disorder that affects both connective tissue and neurological function.

hEDS is a connective tissue disorder that weakens the tendons and ligaments that hold a person’s joints together…

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Addison Smith

I’m an LGBTQ+ DEI educator, activist, and writer living in the Midwest with my cat. Call me Addi. They/She. Booking and more info at https://addisonsagenda.com