The United States is currently experiencing a shortage of medications used to treat ADHD, resulting in many families struggling to find pharmacies that are able to fill prescriptions. We understand how frustrating this is and how impactful it can be for children who depend on these medications. We are here to support our patients as best we can.
Tips For Navigating the ADHD Medication Shortage
- If your regular pharmacy is out of your medication, try calling other pharmacies near you to see if they may have it in stock, as originally prescribed (same medication and dose). Call our office to let us know if you are able to locate a pharmacy that has your medication and we’ll send the prescription over to the new pharmacy.
2. If you are not able to find a pharmacy that can fill your exact prescription, they may have alternatives in stock (same medication with a different dosage, or extended release instead of immediate release, etc.). Call our office with this information for your provider to review. Depending on the type of medication change, your provider may then send a new prescription, or schedule an appointment with you first to discuss the alternative medications.
We recognize that even with the strategies above, some families may still struggle to find their medication and there may be days when parents are not able to give their child or teen the medicine prescribed for them. While this is a temporary situation, we recognize that it can create challenges at school and at home. Until the shortage resolves, there are things that families can do to reduce the impact on kids.
Communication with teachers will be important on days when medicine is not available. We recommend that you contact your child’s teacher(s) to let them know if you will be sending them to school without having had medicine and how many days you think that might occur. Increased communication and problem solving with the teacher might help to decrease the impact of the child’s symptoms on his/her behavior and school work. You could consider asking for temporary adjustments at school, such as:
- Opportunities to take a movement break,
- Decreasing the length or volume of assignments,
- Getting more support from the teacher or school counselor on days when there is no medicine,
- Allowing older students to take exams at a later date, when their medicine is available.
After School Needs
Your child may be coming home with more assignments to complete at home, if they were unable to focus enough to complete them at school. However, your child might also be more wiped out than usual after school, due to working harder to focus, control themselves, and accomplish things without their medicine.
We recommend that you work on maintaining time for exercise, free play, family time, and sleep at home. These basic parts of a healthy lifestyle are important for management of ADHD, too. This may mean needing to maintain a time limit on homework that is appropriate for your child’s age; in other words, don’t allow time spent on homework to increase. Instead, make time for balancing all of your child’s needs. Making sure that your child has time for exercise, healthy eating, free play or leisure time, and adequate sleep is more important than making sure every assignment is entirely finished. Have your child do what they can in the time you set aside for homework, remembering that they may need more guidance and help from you when medicine is not available, then email your child’s teacher to let them know that your child was unable to finish what is left over due to the impact of having no medicine.
Coping With Hyperactivity/Impulsivity, Sleep Problems, and Emotional Regulation At Home
If your child has difficulties with hyperactivity or impulsivity, you are likely quite aware of how this affects them and the household after medicine wears off at night. However, if your child’s medicine is not available for weekend management of their ADHD you might find that Saturday and Sunday are a bit more frustrating or draining for everyone. That’s understandable. Here are some ideas for managing this challenge:
- Provide extra time for physical activity, such as running around at the park, going for walks with you, riding bikes, or playing on the basketball court and the park or rec center. This is more challenging when weather is cold or rainy, so creativity may be needed.
- Some children experience more difficulty settling to fall asleep on days when they have not had their ADHD medicine. Try to maintain your child’s usual bedtime routines but consider adding in an extra book at reading time or listening to a children’s sleep story or sleep meditation, if needed. If falling asleep becomes a significant issue, call the clinic for suggestions on what else might be appropriate for your child.
- Regular, predictable daily routines are helpful to all people and are especially important for child, teens, and adults with ADHD. Maintaining routines will help your child with self-regulation and may help decrease emotional outbursts. Maintain morning, after school, and bedtime routines, as well as rules/limits around screen time. Watch for opportunities to praise your child for following through on responsibilities and daily tasks.
- Practice extra patience through mindful parenting. When things get tough, take a moment to notice how your body feels, recognize and label your emotions, and take a breath to ground yourself. Be self-compassionate if you aren’t as patient as you intend to be, accepting that there’s no such thing as perfect parenting and that it’s human to get frustrated or tired. Be aware of your own needs and take a break when needed, ask friends or family members to help out, and put less pressure on yourself about things that aren’t so important. Remember that all things are temporary and difficult moments pass.
PANW Is Here For Your Family
PANW Behavioral Health providers are available for further help on managing your child’s ADHD symptoms. You can access help by calling the clinic and requesting a consultation with one of our psychologists or social worker. Our team will then be in touch within a few days to schedule a virtual or in-person visit or to arrange a phone call.