ADHD Awareness Months draws attention to a common, but still somewhat misunderstood condition that pharmacists encounter almost daily.
Each October, ADHD Awareness Months draws attention to a common, but still somewhat misunderstood condition that pharmacists encounter almost daily.1 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the one of the most diagnosed neurobehavioural disorders in school-aged and older children. , affecting up to 9% of children and 4% of adults.2,3
However, on many occasions the time leading up to this diagnosis can be prolonged due to the perceived stigma that accompanies the diagnosis and the idea that the patient does not have a disorder, but is simply not behaving or not behaving. pay no attention. This prolongation can be attributed to several factors, including a lack of information and understanding about what ADHD really is and what it looks like. Because ADHD is generally a lifelong disorder, information and support are extremely important in the care of ADHD patients.
Patients have always been very willing to discuss with their health care providers any issues that they or their family members are having to gain insight or support in dealing with the issue. The first step in managing ADHD is diagnosis. Unfortunately, the myths and stigma involving the disease mean that many patients go undiagnosed.
Although ADHD can require varying degrees of diagnostic testing, pharmacists can be among the first healthcare providers to learn about a patient’s symptoms in part due to the frequency of encounters compared to other clinicians. Whether from an informal conversation or a more formal consultation with a patient or caregiver, pharmacists who detect potential ADHD symptoms can encourage the patient to seek a provider in the area for an evaluation. more formal.
Pharmacists can also reassure patients or caregivers, especially those who seem hesitant, that they are not the only ones facing this. The pharmacist can help identify people, clinicians, and organizations, as well as provide documentation that could help the patient and their family through the process and provide support.
The pharmacist can be an important resource for the patient after a diagnosis of ADHD is made. For some patients, the diagnosis may be a relief, while in other situations the patient or family may be struggling with a new diagnosis of ADHD due to the stigma associated with a mental disorder or the stigma of being diagnosed with ADHD. taking ADHD medication.1
When faced with such concerns, the pharmacist can help them better understand the disease, especially how ADHD management works to improve the patient’s overall situation. Misunderstandings about ADHD medications are unfortunately all too common. Patients may not have a clear understanding of how drugs work, how they differ from illicit substances, or how to maximize the benefits of drugs while minimizing risks and side effects.
A young adult or college-aged person who has been prescribed ADHD medication may be embarrassed to take it because they think of it as a crutch, or think it is too old or should have needed it too much.
Even more so, an adult may view the taking of ADHD medication as a weakness and hesitate to take their medication as it should. The pharmacist must be able to reassure these patients that this is a lifelong illness that does not only affect children and that their medications are beneficial to them.
Pharmacists can also play a role in helping to adjust treatment strategies that must change over time as more patients are treated beyond infancy. As people age, their response and tolerance to medications changes, which is why the need for a more individualized and adaptive approach to treatment selection is essential.
It is important to recognize that counseling points can go beyond stimulants and other traditional drug therapies. New non-prescription supplements or therapies are becoming available and are frequently marketed directly to the patient using platforms such as social media.
Even after reviewing the inconsistent evidence of efficacy that exists with some of these non-traditional options, the pharmacist must also consider the safety and risk profile, whether this is a direct result of treatment or ‘drug interaction or disease. As a chronic disease, the impact of ADHD on social and functional abilities, as well as on other co-morbidities, is felt throughout the patient’s life.
Although the pharmacist plays a major role in ADHD medication management, he should also remember to incorporate over-the-counter treatment modalities into his patient counseling. Lifestyle modifications, educational accommodations, cognitive behavioral therapy and other activities all have a beneficial role and complement the drug management of ADHD.1 Some strategies may be directly related to the management of ADHD itself, while others may be aimed at improving medication adherence, effectiveness, and tolerability.
The 2021 theme for ADHD Awareness Month is “Reframing ADHD: Uncovering New Perspectives”.1 It is a good reminder that the role of the pharmacist in ADHD goes well beyond the simple dispensation of medication.
Although this is an important aspect of care, the pharmacist is able to do much more for the benefit of the patient and their family. The problems and behaviors associated with ADHD can be stressful. Therefore, getting reliable information is one of the most important parts of treating this disorder. As pharmacists, we have the ability to give this information to patients and help them make an informed decision about themselves or their loved ones.
- ADHD Awareness Month. Available: https://www.adhdawarenessmonth.org/
- What is the add-on? Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html. Posted August 23, 2021. Accessed August 27, 2021.
- About ADHD. CHAD. https://chadd.org/about/#history. Posted July 13, 2021. Accessed September 20, 2021.