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  • Writer's pictureJohnson Behavioral Health Group

Abigail Johnson Discusses the Impact of Adderall Shortage on Mental Health Care with KSLA News

Updated: Feb 21

credits to: KSLA News 12

Adderall-related issues are all over the place as the FDA reported its nationwide shortage, but what does it look like from a mental healthcare provider’s perspective?

Adderall is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by helping with focus and concentration-related issues. The shortage of Adderall has been a major issue for a while now. It’s not just the patients who suffer from this shortage’s effect. Mental health providers have also been struggling to make up for the lack of Adderall supply and maintain their patients’ mental health, specifically those relying on this medication.

Abigail Johnson, the CEO of Johnson Behavioral Health Group and a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, emphasized the impact of this crisis on her practice and patients during her interview with KSLA News 12. “Adderall is used very commonly with the treatment of ADHD, so we’re getting phone calls pretty regularly from pharmacies and patients because they can’t get their prescription, so we have to switch the medication to something else.”

According to Johnson, they’re not expecting this to clear up until March 2023, causing a significant issue in treatment with their patients. This shortage has created a crisis for patients who rely on this treatment for their mental health, especially ADHD prevalence in children. In fact, CDC declared that 10% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD.

With the shortage, many mental health professionals are unable to prescribe Adderall to patients who need it most urgently, causing these people to ration their pills or be exposed to replacements with higher dosages. This has created distress in the healthcare industry, which is already short-staffed and underfunded. However, heartened by hope and positivity, Johnson believes that anyone impacted by this national calamity can still carry on with a proper combination of control, awareness, and professional guidance.

“There’s about six out of ten pharmacies that are experiencing low stock. So there are plenty of other alternatives to Adderall. That’s the great thing about treatment with ADHD because Adderall is not the only medication. All someone needs to do is contact their psychiatrist or primary care physician and talk about the other options. There are drug shortages that we face as medical providers, like antibiotic shortages that happen pretty frequently, where the alternatives are very few,” Johnson stated.

Therefore, Johnson presented alternative treatments for patients without access to Adderall at local pharmacies. If someone finds themselves without their medication, here are several tips for managing ADHD:

  • Create a routine: People with ADHD thrive off a routine. It often doesn’t seem natural, but it can help people with ADHD thrive very well.

  • Managing and limiting distractions: This is also a significant way to manage ADHD. This may mean eliminating screen time or limiting those that can take your focus away.

  • Be clear and specific when communicating with someone with ADHD: For those with close interaction with someone with ADHD, be clear and concise in what you’re trying to have them accomplish. Help them plan and stick to their goal every day.

These practices may not be as effective as Adderall, but they can still help with symptoms of ADHD like concentration and hyperactivity. These alternatives are also more affordable than prescription medication and may be more accessible for people in rural communities.

In the health industry, generic drug shortages are not a new phenomenon. In order to raise awareness about what’s possibly causing the shortage, Johnson also provided a combination of shortage factors of generic drugs like Adderall:

  • Supply chain issues: America’s demand for Adderall skyrocketed over the past years. Large and small manufacturers of Adderall, like Teva Pharmaceuticals, cannot keep pace with the high demand for this prescription medication.

  • Regulatory hurdles: Like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As Adderall is a controlled substance and the abuse potential is very high, it is regulated heavily by the government. DEA has tried to monitor this crisis by limiting prescriptions and making more people aware of its dangers.

  • Natural disasters: Take the recent hurricane that just hit Florida as an example. Natural disasters can directly impact the supply of drugs, whether as a threat to manufacturers’ productivity or as a cause of mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD to the victims.

  • Low profitability for manufacturers: It is common practice for a company to possibly stop production, which inadvertently largely affects the already fragile market of generic medication such as Adderall.

Many patients feel dependent on this medication to function normally and are not ready to quit suddenly. While some patients can get Adderall from unlicensed online or offline vendors, others control themselves despite losing legal access to fill their prescriptions. Others might still be considering black-market stimulants as an option.

As a result, the DEA has issued an important notice, warning consumers not to buy medications that have been diverted and not to buy Adderall off the black market. According to reports, fentanyl is being laced with Adderall, and even a single dose can be fatal.

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