TikTok and Adderall: A Combo of Interest

October 13, 2022

The pandemic has made it challenging to access healthcare in a timely fashion. Virtual visits can help—if done properly. That is why the Department of Health and Human Services began allowing providers to skip in-person evaluations before prescribing controlled substances. It was an emergency measure, but it is difficult to imagine ever stuffing that genie back in its bottle. Naturally, some entities have seized this opportunity to rake in profits at the expense of vulnerable, mostly younger, patients. Vox reports, “‘Scary Easy. Sketchy as Hell.’ How Startups Are Pushing Adderall on TikTok.” Reporter Sara Morrison writes:

“Due to a combination of the pandemic and the rise of telehealth startups, it’s never been easier to come across social media content that will convince you that you might have ADHD, or services that will prescribe meds for it if they determine that you do. But that content isn’t always coming from health care professionals. Much of the TikTok content can be considered inaccurate or misleading. Meanwhile, it’s especially important that ADHD assessments are careful and thorough so that health care professionals can rule out other conditions with the same or similar symptoms as ADHD, look for coexisting conditions, and screen for people who are seeking ADHD meds like Adderall to abuse. Diagnosing someone with a condition they don’t have — and prescribing meds to treat it — means they aren’t getting diagnosed and treated for whatever condition or conditions they do have. And ADHD meds aren’t effective when taken by people who don’t have ADHD, but they can be addictive and abused. … Between the beginning of 2020 and the end of 2021, prescriptions for Adderall and its generic equivalents increased by nearly 25 percent during the pandemic for the 22-44 age group, a trend that health care analytics firm Trilliant Health attributed to ‘the emergence of digital mental health platforms.'”

Accurate diagnoses can be made online, but only if providers dedicate ample time to each assessment—preferable about two hours. These TikTok opportunists allot much less time. The aptly named Done, for example, offers 30-minute assessments with 15-minute follow-ups. Even some of the patients, though eager for a solution, report feeling rushed. Public scrutiny does seem to have curbed the trend somewhat. But Morrison notes Done, for one, is not slowing down its prescription gravy train. See the write-up for more details, but basically Done has partnered with several influencers to push its brand and, it seems, convince TikTok users they need its services. Then, of course, the platform’s algorithm feeds more and more of this content, much of it inaccurate, to users who express any interest in ADHD.

In general, telehealth can be a real boon for those who need healthcare during this time of chronic staff shortages. Too bad some shady companies are seizing this moment profit at all costs.

Cynthia Murrell, October 13, 2022


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta