School Behavior

The Academic Fallout from the Adderall Shortage

“We couldn’t get the methylphenidates we needed and had to purchase Vyvanse… the first fill was $400 with insurance.” As the Adderall shortage enters its eighth month, learn how students with ADHD are paying the price for inadequate and/or expensive treatment.

Students sit at desks and face the front of a classroom.

As The Washington Post recently reported, the Adderall shortage is causing disruptive and frustrating ripples in the academic and social lives of students with ADHD.

New limits on controlled drug supplies, paired with increased demand for that supply and lingering supply chain disruptions, have touched millions of patients prescribed ADHD stimulant medication. The medication shortage, now entering its eighth month, has had a jarring effect on families, especially the parents who are expected to manage their kids’ modified treatment plans and adapt to the pain points of tracking down and trying out new medication options.

Recently, ADDitude asked parents and teachers: Have you noticed the impact of the ongoing Adderall shortage on any of your students’ school and homework performance? Their classroom behavior?

Their answers point to a domino effect wherein the Adderall shortage has caused constrictions in other medications’ supplies. The cost of alternative, name-brand drugs can run significantly higher than Adderall, causing a financial burden that not every family can sustain.

Inadequate medication coverage is causing some children to experience behavioral problems in the classroom. Some students are not consequently showing up for school, or they’re being kept home, according to caregivers, roughly half of whom also have ADHD. Adults who relied on Adderall, including teachers, say they are struggling to attend to their own responsibilities — many of which directly impact their kids. That includes getting to school on time, reviewing homework, and sticking to a consistent routine.

[Download: Free Parenting Guide for Caregivers with ADHD]

The Adderall shortage may be temporary, but the repercussions could have a lasting emotional, social, and academic impact on developing kids. Hear what caregivers had to say about the Adderall shortage, below, and contribute your experience in the Comments section, above.

Adderall Shortage: Impact on Students with ADHD

“Some children who had used Adderall in the past have been changed to a different medication. The interruptions, resets, and resumption of new medications is noticeable in the classroom. Management tools and strategies are very helpful at these times.” — Jo Ann, Missouri

“The Adderall shortage is creating huge anxiety in my daughter, which leads to migraines. She does not function as well on other medications.” — Lisa, New York

“We couldn’t get the medications we needed, and had to get Vyvanse. It’s working, but the first fill was $400 with insurance. Not everyone can bear that, which may stop people from taking their medications at all. Neither of our two kids can do homework well without ADHD medications.” — An ADDitude reader

[Read: Could You Be Saving Money On Your ADHD Medication? Find Out Here]

“I am a teacher who has ADHD. For myself, luckily, I haven’t experienced a shortage for the slow-release Adderall, yet. For my students, absolutely. I noticed a huge increase in the number of students who fail to turn in assignments on time or fail to come to school.” Noelle, New York

“We were briefly affected by the Concerta shortage prior to Adderall and, yes, it was difficult. My son relies on his daily medication to function. If I cannot give it to him, I will keep him home from school because I cannot send him into battle without the proper weapons to be successful. During those few months, I had to be proactive in contacting different pharmacies within short periods of time. I was also prepared to pay for the name brand out of pocket if we could not access the generic, as insurance would not cover the name brand.” — Amanda, North Carolina

“I have not noticed this, but the high cost of Vyvanse has definitely affected some of the lower-income high school students that I teach. Many lower-income families simply cannot afford it and are forced to use a drug that is less effective.— Donna, Texas

“As a person, I need my Adderall to function. As a mom, I need my Adderall to support my kids. The shortage has left me unable to drive for field trips, get my kids to school on time, or even get out of bed at times.” — Lacey, California

“I am not always made aware if/when my students are on medications and/or when they stop, start, or change. However, I have observed changes in certain students’ behaviors (e.g. increased inattention, increased physical impulsivity).— Theresa, Georgia

“As a teacher, it is a difficult (and blurry) line when it comes to medications and students. I have to assume a lot of students are medicated, but because their parents have not shared this with the school, I may not know for certain. And even if the information has been shared with the school, that doesn’t mean I am privy to that information as a classroom teacher. So, at this moment, I really don’t know if there are students who are being impacted by the Adderall shortage. What I know is that personally I am, and it makes my days very difficult.” — Brianna, Iowa

“My 14-year-old son started a generic Concerta this year for the first time. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t find a pharmacy to fill the generic. Eventually, I figured out that my insurer’s online pharmacy could fill a brand name Concerta prescription. In the meantime, about three weeks went by when my son struggled more with homework and tests. I am told the Concerta shortage is a result of Adderall patients seeking alternatives.” — An ADDitude reader

“Our oldest son with ADHD is already out of college and working. I know the shortage has affected his ability to feel like he’s performing well at his new job. He’s developed other strategies that he’s implementing (through years of CBT), but I have noticed that things seem to be more of a struggle than they were a year ago for him.” — Jenny, South Carolina

“I am a preschool teacher; my students are largely unmedicated. However, the shortage has affected my co-workers and some of the parents of my students in a noticeable manner. One parent-teacher conference devolved into hysterical laughter because everyone forgot all the important paperwork. I’m lucky I found a non-stimulant option for myself.” — Holly, Washington

“I am no longer a teacher, but I can say that for me, personally, I am having a hard time completing any tasks, and I am surprised I am even completing this task right now. I suppose it’s because I have other, what I might consider more important things to do, and answering this question is a distraction.” — Marisa, Georgia

“I was worried for my son, but his psychiatrist worked out other medication options with him.— Cathy, California

Adderall Shortage: Next Steps

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