ADHD Treatment Controversies

ADHD Treatment Controversies and Safety of Long-Term Stimulant Use

Even though one study found no safety issues over a 14-month period, concerns have been raised about the long-term safety of stimulant treatment. Since ADHD has an early onset and requires an extended course of treatment, further research is needed to examine the long-term safety of ADHD treatment. It is also necessary to investigate whether other forms of treatment could be combined with stimulants to lower their dose, as well as to reduce other problem behaviors found with ADHD. Such combined treatments could be targeted for symptoms of disorders that often accompany ADHD (such as conduct disorder, substance abuse, and learning disabilities) and could be targeted to improve overall functioning.
Because stimulants are also drugs of abuse, and because children with ADHD are at increased risk for a substance abuse disorder, concerns have also been raised about the potential for abuse of stimulants by children taking the medication or the sharing of the drug with others. While stimulants clearly have abuse potential, the rate of lifetime non-medical methylphenidate use has not significantly increased since methylphenidate was introduced as a treatment for ADHD, suggesting that abuse is not a major problem. Case reports describing abuse by children who are prescribed stimulants for ADHD are rare.
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