I hear complaints about it all over the country - at ADHD-related conferences I attend and at the continuing ed workshops that I offer. "My pharmarcy doesn't have enough supply of the ADHD meds to meet the demand."
When I first heard rumblings of this in the Twittersphere, I thought it'd be a short-lived problem. But as an article in Sunday's NY Times attests, the FDA continues to receive complaints about the shortage, and suggests that at least part of the blame is another government agency, the DEA.
Make no mistake, among evidence-based treatments for ADD/ADHD, stimulant medication is one of the best. So a shortage of pharmacotherapy that helps students and adults function is a real crisis. But could we use this crisis as an occasion to ask what else we can offer to individuals who struggle with time management, impulse control, and self-regulation?
There is substantial scientific literature - and a universe of clinical and personal experience - to warrant the following recommendations. Not every one of these will be a good match for you or your family member, so pick one or two that you could easily begin to implement right away. If it makes your life 10% easier, that will be a lot less stress, lost income, relationship challenges, and academic underperformance.
While my clients are waiting for the ADHD medication supply to catch up with need - or in addition to that medication - I like to recommend:
Now, none of the above is easy. Conducting research on these interventions has proven challenging, and expensive, for the same reasons that clinical ("real life") implementation is hard. If you are a classoom teacher, 20% of your students will take up 80% of your time and energy. If you're a parent of three children, one of whom has ADHD, he/she will require twice as much parenting as the other two combined. And if you are an adult living with AD(H)D, you may have to work hard to do things that are really easy for someone else who's as bright and curious as you. It's not fair, but it's probably true for you.
Pills don't teach skills (somebody had to say it). They can give you a "foot in the door," and facilitate development and mastery of important self-management skills, but with or without medication, you or your loved one does need to learn skills. So, while we wait out this stimulant medication shortage, which skills seem like the most important ones to tackle now?