BILLINGS — If you haven’t been able to find your ADD or ADHD medication, you’re not alone.
A nationwide Adderall shortage is forcing patients to ration their medication or just go without, and families in Billings aren’t immune.
Billings native Nicole Vandenbosch and her 12-year-old son Gabe have both been living with ADHD basically their entire lives.
“Having a conversation with him is super hard ‘cuz he’s everywhere else in his head,” Vandenbosch said on Monday.
Gabe’s diagnosis makes it hard for him to pay attention in school.
“Every day he goes there, and he’s not medicated, I get a phone call about behavior. Like he talks out of turn, he’s very disruptive in class and then gets removed from class, which affects schoolwork,” said Vandenbosch.
ADHD is a neurodivergent disorder that hinders the brain’s ability to focus and control impulsive behaviors. It’s usually treated with Adderall, a medication that’s changed both Gabe’s and Nicole’s lives.
“We’ve had to play with the dose a few times, but it really helps behavior and just his ability to stay on task, especially in school,” Vandenbosch said.
All was well until just recently, when a labor shortage at one of the largest Adderall manufacturers in the country caused shortages of medication across the nation.
“We ended up switching from Walgreens Heights pharmacy to Albertsons Heights pharmacy 'cuz Walgreens was consistently out of his med,” said Vandenbosch.
Both Vandenbosch and her son have had to go several days unmedicated over the last couple of months because Adderall has been so hard to find.
“For probably about a month now, we’ve been getting periodic calls from people in the community trying to source their Adderall and ADD medications,” said Karissa Nagel, a compounding pharmacist with Juro’s Pharmacy.
Nagel said it’s a problem with no real solutions.
“Just people unable to get them and we can’t get them supplied from our manufacturers, which is really difficult for existing patients,” Nagel said.
Nicole and Gabe are living that difficult reality, forced to make some tough decisions.
“For him, sometimes I don’t medicate him on the weekends, knowing this is going to be a thing,” said Vandenbosch.
She’s worried that rationing their medication will cause side effects.
“Sometimes he’ll get headaches for the first two days he’s back on it, if it’s been a while,” Vandenbosch said.
For now, all she can do is hope that Adderall will be back in stock when their medication runs out.
“I lived with it unmedicated my entire life until last year so I’m able to manage it better than him, but my biggest thing is how it affects him and his school, and how he feels about himself,” said Vandenbosch.