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The Food and Drug Administration announced a shortage of the drug Adderall earlier this month. But what impact does this have on Alabama?

Adderall is a stimulant drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disorder arising from executive dysfunction. Those with ADHD are often excessively inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. 

Although occasionally diagnosed in adults, ADHD is most commonly identified in childhood. Males are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.

The diagnosis and treatment for ADHD have been controversial since the 1970s. Critics have pointed to the subjectivity of the criterion for ADHD diagnosis and the side effects of drugs like Adderall, which can include loss of appetite, weight loss, trouble sleeping or even nervous breakdowns. Adderall is also highly addictive.

Adderall is an amphetamine, a less potent “chemical cousin” to the infamous street drug methamphetamine. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) latest data, Alabama is the fourth-most ADHD-heavy state in the country.

Roughly 12.1% of Alabama’s children currently between ages 3 and 17 have received a diagnosis of ADHD, behind only Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia. 

Alabama also has the second-highest percentage of children with ADHD on medication. Approximately 77% of Alabama’s children with ADHD receive medication. The only state with a higher rate of children with ADHD receiving medication is Nebraska, at 81.4%.

Taken together, these statistics show that around 9.32% of children in Alabama are taking medication for ADHD. 

The only two states with a higher percentage of children on ADHD medication is Louisiana at 10.35% and Mississippi at 10.63%. The national average is 5.89%.

These aren’t the only people who could be taking Adderall, however. WebMD estimates that up to 5% of American adults have ADHD, but less than 20% of those adults are aware they have it.

Adderall is also not the only ADHD medication. Others include Dexedrine, Zenzedi, Focalin, Methylin and Ritalin.

Adderall and other ADHD medications are sometimes used by people who haven’t been prescribed them, especially college students, due to the drug’s effects on academic performance and ability to focus. 

When they announced the Adderall shortage on October 12, the FDA attributed it to delays experienced by one of the amphetamine manufacturing companies, Teva.

According to the announcement, the FDA is monitoring supply and assisting manufacturers like Teva to help overcome setbacks.

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