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With ADHD Medicine Shortage, People Seek Other Treatment Options

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Danielle Smith

(Arkansas News Service) Across the country, there is a shortage of medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which affects more than 16 million people.

The condition was previously classified as a childhood disorder, but recent long-term studies suggest up to 90 percent of children diagnosed will continue to have ADHD as adults. 

Dr. Greg Mattingly, physician and president-elect of the American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders, said with not enough Adderall medicine to treat ADHD and not enough clinicians to take care of people, it has led to a crisis. He stressed the good news is a lot of treatment options are still available for people with ADHD.

"So we have some stimulants, both Amphetamine and methylphenidate, that instead of taking them multiple times a day, you take them once a day, and they're there," Mattingly outlined. "A lot of those options are available. We also have four non-stimulants that are approved for kids with ADHD, two of those that are approved for adults with ADHD, a tamoxifen and Calibri, both of which have very good supply as well."

Mattingly recommended people talk to their primary care physician, pediatrician or mental health provider about where ADHD shows up in their life and medication they are struggling to find, and to ask what other options are available to them.

Mattingly pointed out the Food and Drug Administration is blaming the shortage on manufacturing delays. But he added during COVID, the rate of diagnosis of ADHD spiked while people were home trying to adjust to working virtually, as their kids were at home learning through a computer. He noted people realized they were having cognitive problems, and went to their doctors to get help.

"We also had a set supply of ADHD medicines available," Mattingly emphasized. "If you have increased demand with a set supply, what happens is you wind up with a shortage. Learning how to find which medicines are still available in my community, talking about some of those once-daily, long-acting medicines that we'd already been moving to before COVID, and finding the one that works the best for me, given my set of symptoms."

He added to never assume you have ADHD. Instead, seek professional medical help to get a diagnosis. He noted a physician can assist people with learning tips and tricks about how to be more organized, and less forgetful and how to structure their life in a way to be more successful if they are prone to having ADHD.