As ADHD prescriptions increase, some seek alternative treatments

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:56 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The healthcare company Trilliant Health pulled data from hundreds of thousands of people who were prescribed Adderall and found prescriptions increased about 15% from 2020-2021 for people ages 22-44.

It comes as many are facing an Adderall shortage due to manufacturing issues.

Vicky Olachea was prescribed Adderall during COVID-19. She was never diagnosed with the condition before, but struggled to focus on her college work when classes were remote. She was able to get a diagnosis online.

“A psychiatrist reviewed it online and I did this questionnaire,” Olachea said.

She then had to get final approval for the prescription from her doctor. Within a few weeks she was on Adderall and says it really improved her schoolwork.

“My head had never been so clear,” Olachea said. “It was unnerving. I was like, ‘why is my head so quiet?’ It was so helpful and I was able to focus so much better.”

But then she ran into a serious side effect. Olachea says she would go up to eight hours without eating or drinking. This was a problem because she is hyperglycemic, which means she has low blood sugar levels. If she doesn’t eat there are consequences.

“I get shaky, and my mood changes very quickly,” Olachea said. “It can be hard to focus, I can get sweaty and then eventually I will pass out.”

After graduation she decided to get off Adderall. She says she was able to do this through a lifestyle change. Instead of studying books all day she now works three jobs. One includes working at an escape room.

“And that helps because I am not sitting all day,” Olachea said. “I am on my feet and I am doing a different room every hour. So there is a variety. Being able to pick my schedule and where I want to do my work has helped immensely.”

Olachea says she also started working with a holistic medicine doctor. She says eating the right foods helped her focus. Ultimately she has this advice for others.

“Know that there are so many people out there who have ADHD and have figured out alternatives or who are ready to help you with it,” Olchea said. “I have had a lot of success from working with a holistic doctor. So there are alternatives and a lot of them are lifestyle changes.”

Fox Carolina reached out to Greenville ADHD specialists to find out more about alternative treatments to Adderall. Nurse practitioner Apryl Watson says there are other similar medications out there, but their effectiveness and side effects can vary from person to person. She recommends contacting a doctor if interested. Watson also says lifestyle changes like proper sleep, exercise and healthy eating can help with ADHD. She cautions against taking any over-the-counter supplements or medications. Watson says these could interfere with other medications a patient is taking. She again recommends contacting a doctor before starting anything new.