Trying to focus

Nationwide medication shortage impacts students


photo illustration by Samantha Haney

To manage side effects from the ADHD medication she takes, Stoffel uses different strategies to overcome the loss of appetite or difficulty sleeping. “I came up with these systems over time with trial and error. I tried a lot of different strategies until I found some that work, Stoffel said.

Molly Brim, Administrative Editor

“[ADHD is] not just a sudden diagnosis. It’s a very long process. It’s oftentimes years of observation. It’s parent information, it’s the teachers input, even coaches input,” Karla Keaney, community pediatrician for Esse Health said.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a medical condition that causes inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. In school, it means those with ADHD often have trouble focusing, have poor organizational skills, lack attention to detail among other things.

Keaney said ADHD symptoms vary.

“You can see symptoms occurring at any juncture, some of the later onset ones didn’t have classic symptoms. Those are a little bit of a different diagnosis an I might send them to a psychiatrist or a psychologist for more extensive testing,” Keaney said.

When freshmon Rylee Stoffel was in 3rd Grade, she was diagnosed with ADHD, but she didn’t start taking Adderall until two years later.

“My parents didn’t want me to be on meds at that young of an age, so I started Adderall in 5th Grade,” Stoffel said.

The CDC reports that three in four children between the ages of 2-17 who are diagnosed with ADHD receive medication to treat their symptoms.

But, the FDA announced on Oct. 12, 2022, that there was a shortage of an ADHD stimulant known as Adderall, one of the most commonly prescribed treatments.

One of the main manufacturers of Adderall, Teva, has been unable to make Adderall fast enough to meet demand.

Stoffel has been impacted by the shortage.

“I think it has been twice now that we have been told that there was a shortage. The most recent time [my parents] had to call about five different places to find a pharmacy that had it,” Stoffel said.

Stoffel said taking Adderall has helped her stay focused and clear her head.

“My mind is always jumbled with a million different thoughts that are often in no way connected and I have at least three different songs playing in my head on the daily, she said. “But, when I take Adderall, it definitely clears some of that up and helps me focus,” Stoffel said.

On the downside, Stoffel said she sometimes suffers side effects from the Adderall. Those side effects are common among users.

“I do sometimes suffer from the mild side effects like lack of sleep and lost of appetite,” she said.

To deal with the side effects, Stoffel said she has systems that help her so they don’t negatively impact her as much.

Aside from just Adderall, Keaney said there is now a shortage of several other stimulants for ADHD.

“There’s no easy way to deal [with the shortage]. Some people have been on meds for years and switching them has been incredibly problematic. There’s now a shortage on almost all of the long-acting formulas because people have to borrow from another family of medication.”

Keaney hopes the people with ADHD get the medication they need regardless of the shortage.

“It’s entirely too complicated and there are too many kids that aren’t on the med that should be. [The shortage] changes day-to-day,” she said.