Saturday, March 25, 2023

Adderall shortage, uncertainty for students

By Bryn Fawn

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common childhood disability. However, it does not suddenly disappear once these children hit adulthood. According to the scientific paper, published in 2016, “Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adults and Children of Different Racial and Ethnic Groups” 2.8% of the entire world’s population of adults have ADHD. Many of these children and adults also rely on stimulants to function, one of the most common being Adderall. Yet, the FDA announced Oct. 12 there is a shortage in the drug. 

Patients were struggling to get the medication before October, however. Reports of shortages began in the summer, but the FDA did not add the drug to their shortage page until Oct. 12. Teva, a large producer of the medication, reported an increase in demand with a decrease in workforce. 

“Although there are other manufacturers, as with most shortages, they can’t simply increase their output and meet the excess demand when the main manufacturer can’t maintain what they are typically able to supply,” Dr. Michael Gano reported to Pharmacy Practice News on the matter. “Your pharmacy may have the drug on the shelf today, but tomorrow when you are allowed to refill it, it may be gone. Anytime a controlled substance is involved with a shortage, there is an additional layer of complication involved.”

While Adderall is not the only stimulant used to treat ADHD, an estimate of 16 million American adults use stimulants according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These 16 million Americans include those who are addicted and/or abuse the drug while also including those who require the medications to function. 

Untreated ADHD can make daily life difficult. Symptoms include attention difficulties like being unable to focus or focusing too long and unable to move to another matter, hyperactivity and impulsivity according to the Center for Disease Control. 

Receiving treatment is also difficult without the shortage, as most stimulants are a controlled substance. That means, patients are unable to refill prescriptions early, and can only receive a month’s dose once every month. Missing dosages can create devastating effects, especially the longer withdrawal goes on.

Common symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include: depression, irritability, fatigue, headaches, oversleeping, insomnia, increased appetite, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, anxiety and suicidal thoughts according to Addiction Center, a resource for victims and loved ones of drug abuse. 

Even one of these symptoms could impair someone’s ability to perform and reduce their quality of life. 

SUNY Plattsburgh Students with ADHD commonly have time, note and audio recording accommodations with the Student Accessibility Services. These might not be enough if these students are dependent on the drug, however. Even with these accommodations, not only will the withdrawal affect students’ ability to succeed, but so will the disability in of itself.

Professors should be mindful of their students who have to face this shortage, especially with little options for students. Changing medications is not always viable, as it can interfere with other medications or cause side effects. 

ADHD is often forgotten as a disability, and seen as just being unable to focus or sit still. ADHD affects every angle of life, every minute of every day. It is a disability and should be treated as such, rather than cast aside.

Students who wish to receive help or accommodations for their disabilities or impairments should contact the Student Accessibility Services located on the first floor of Macomb, near the Health Center.

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