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Protecting Us Out Of The Drugs We Need: Why There’s A Ritalin Shortage

May 9, 2011
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Protecting Us Out Of The Drugs We Need: Why There’s A Ritalin Shortage
I call Ritalin my “concentration vitamin.” I was diagnosed with ADHD about 15 years ago, and prescribed the generic for Ritalin, which I take to help myself focus when I write.

Basically, I sometimes feel like I have 16 squirrels in my brain running off in 16 different directions and Ritalin makes most of them sit down at their little desks and shut the hell up so I can think about what I need to think about.

By the way, I don’t consider ADHD a “disorder,” but they have to call it that to give you pills. Martin Seligman talks about how ridiculous it is that psychology and psychiatry are largely targeted to “curing” people who are sick, and not helping functioning, productive people become even higher functioning and more productive — or as Seligman puts it in his terrific new book, to Flourish.

So, a week or so ago, I got to Kaiser’s 24-hour pharmacy in the middle of the night (best time to go). Most annoyingly, I learned that Ritalin is in extremely short supply across the country. They told that they could only fill one month’s worth of my prescription — while charging me my full co-pay.

Of course, that charge is in addition to the time cost of needing to get my prescription from my doctor and drive to Kaiser again in a month — no big deal for many people but a big deal for me. (I’m writing seven days a week these days, day into night, and I try to minimize all incursions of chores and errands into my life. As I like to joke, I don’t even cook; I heat.)

Regarding the Ritalin shortage, it seems the Drug War-ocrats are so worried that people will make meth that the DEA has been capping the supply of ingredients needed to manufacture Ritalin. Utterly disgusting.

Also very disturbingly, when I asked to buy Mucinex-D (now kept behind the counter), I had to hand over my driver’s license, and have my name and license number written down…although I have all my teeth and clear skin and no history dealing anything but my writing.

Need for probable cause, anyone? We’re seeing the end of privacy and the continual gnawing away at our rights in general.

By the way, I noticed after I bought the Mucinex-D that they’ve lessened the dosage of one of the active ingredients, pseudoephedrine (from 120 mg., from a box I had from last year, to 60). Also, it’s now outlandishly expensive — nearly $1 per pill. I don’t remember whether it was that pricey in the past. Anyone have any idea?

There is a version of Mucinex-D right on the store shelves at my drugstore — now made with with a less effective ingredient than pseudoephedrine. Handy!

I bought the Mucinex-D because I discovered, when I had a cold a month or so ago, that the pseudoephedrine seems to really increase my focus when I’m writing. I can even take a little less Ritalin if I take it, but I’m afraid to take it every day.

I’m concerned as to whether there are any longterm side-effects from it that I should worry about, from the pseudoephedrine and/or the 600 mg. of guaifenesin that’s part of the formula. (I like Mucinex-D because it’s 12-hour release — pretty much the length of my usual writing/work day.)

I’d like to ask my shrink about whether this stuff is safe for me when I see him in June, but I’m kind of afraid that it’ll flag me as some druggie when I just want to put more time into writing my book and less time into trying to catch the squirrels in my head and shove them into their little seats.

I spoke to my doctor ex-boyfriend a few weeks ago (he called on his way to Africa) and he said he’d look up pseudoephedrine for me when he gets back. My sister, who’s studying biology, thinks it’s a big mistake for me to take. If I’m lucky, I’ll run into somebody chatty at some cocktail party who’s really versed in this.

Crazy that it’s come to this.

I’m so sorry people are making and selling meth. It’s a really destructive drug. But, hey, U.S. government, I just want to write my column and my book and blog and maybe do some TV and radio. Stay the hell out of my rights and freedoms and my pill bottles.

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  • ever-and-anon

    Jeez, Amy, you’re quite the little doper, taking OTC for the sudafed buzz. Just get some white crosses or something and finish the dang book.

  • AliMcJ

    People would not be making bathtub methedrine if lab-produced stimulants were not in short supply and/opr availability.

    Snooooozzzeeeee — I take it for Narcolepsy.  I’ve been a zombie for some time now and have trouble even keeping my eyelids lifted high enough. to count as “open.”

    What has given me focus and concentration and the confidence to make appointments, be on time, work a schedule, drive a long distance has been made unavailable nationwide.

    I cannot be alone in finding myself in great distress, dumped back into the abyss of inertia and dullness after having restored to my the simple confidence to know I will be awake in order to meet and work with others.

    Any Class Action Suits opening up???

  • AliMcJ

    People would not be making bathtub methedrine if lab-produced stimulants were not in short supply and/opr availability.

    Snooooozzzeeeee — I take it for Narcolepsy.  I’ve been a zombie for some time now and have trouble even keeping my eyelids lifted high enough. to count as “open.”

    What has given me focus and concentration and the confidence to make appointments, be on time, work a schedule, drive a long distance has been made unavailable nationwide.

    I cannot be alone in finding myself in great distress, dumped back into the abyss of inertia and dullness after having restored to my the simple confidence to know I will be awake in order to meet and work with others.

    Any Class Action Suits opening up???

    • Anonymous

      I have been taking Ritalin for about a year now. It has literally saved my life because I take it as an adjunct to my antidepresents. I’m taking the max for my antidepresents but I still suffer from depression without the ritalyn. When my doctor prscribed ritalin, I didn’t think it would help but it helped me to finally get out of bed and do normal things. I was insure if I would ever be able to do that. 
      When I changed insurance companies, they would not pay for the ritalin but that’s another story.
      I can really feel for you,AliMcJ because “…being dumped back into the abyss of inertia and dullness…” describes how I feel without the ritalyn exactly. ( very well said !).
      Class action ? You bet. I’m in.
      Btw, I have the narcolepsy also with heavy eyelids,etc. I thought it was due to thehaving sleep apnea and didn’t get enough sleep!
      I know I must sound like a hypochondriac but I definitely am not. I never even took aspirin until I had artificial valves put in my heart which may have caused my afib (chronic) but saved my life. Then my daughter died and I started falling into that well and couldn’t get out. Okay, I’m boring myself now.
      Thanks for listening.

  • AliMcJ

    People would not be making bathtub methedrine if lab-produced stimulants were not in short supply and/opr availability.

    Snooooozzzeeeee — I take it for Narcolepsy.  I’ve been a zombie for some time now and have trouble even keeping my eyelids lifted high enough. to count as “open.”

    What has given me focus and concentration and the confidence to make appointments, be on time, work a schedule, drive a long distance has been made unavailable nationwide.

    I cannot be alone in finding myself in great distress, dumped back into the abyss of inertia and dullness after having restored to my the simple confidence to know I will be awake in order to meet and work with others.

    Any Class Action Suits opening up???

  • James McDaniel

    The shortage of Ritalin has made me seriously consider learning how to make my own.  I’m serious.   I can not leave my well-being at the whim of the U.S. Government.  And if I can’t figure out how, I guess I’ll have no choice but to look into moving to another country.   I *used to* love my country, but I’m not so sure any more.  Is this what a great country looks like?  How disgusting.

Right. Man up. Buy the book now on Amazon.com. Or listen to Ronnie tell a story at escaping-from-reality.com.