Stimulants for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
What To Think About
Most of the medicines used to treat ADHD come with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning about possible heart-related or mental problems. Before starting a medicine for ADHD, tell your doctor if your child or you have any heart problems, heart defects, or mental health problems.
Methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine usually take effect within 1 hour after the first dose. Talk to your doctor about the best time to take the medicine.
Treatment with stimulants may be continued as long as the symptoms are present, the medicine continues to work, and there are no significant side effects.
People with ADHD do not tend to abuse stimulant medicine and very rarely develop dependence on (addiction to) on the medicine. Also, there is no evidence that people with ADHD who take stimulants are at greater risk for abusing other drugs. In fact, people who take stimulants for ADHD may be less likely to abuse drugs.Reference 3
Some people buy or steal stimulant medicines. Parents need to be certain that their child takes his or her medicine and does not share it with or sell it to anyone else. If this is a concern, talk to your doctor about your child taking a medicine in a safer form.
When stimulants are used to treat ADHD and a dose is missed, do not increase doses to catch up. If several doses are missed, begin taking the medicine again on the regular schedule.
Tips for giving methylphenidate or dextroamphetamine to children:
- It is best to start the medicine on the weekend so you can better see how the child reacts to the medicine.
- A low dose of methylphenidate is usually given at first. The dose is increased until the child's behavior is controlled. It is important to follow the prescribed dosage schedule and watch for changes in behavior.
- It is better to give the medicine after meals rather than before so it doesn't interfere with the child's appetite and weight gain.
- Most children who take stimulants for ADHD function best when medicines are used continuously. But some children may function well enough to take a break from medicines on weekends and holidays. Even for these children, it is usually helpful to continue the medicine on weekends if activities are planned that require concentration and attention, such as team sports, church activities, or educational programs.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: February 2, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics