Ins and Outs of ADHD Treatment

Stimulant Medications

Stimulant medications have been shown to be quite effective in treating symptoms of ADHD. Although it might seem like stimulants would make hyperactivity worse, they actually have a calming effect in kids with ADHD.
Many different stimulants are approved for the treatment of ADHD (see ADHD Medications for a list of stimulants), and all of them are generally considered equally effective. However, as stated previously, it is impossible to know beforehand how an individual child will respond to any given stimulant. This means that not every stimulant will work for every child.
All stimulant medications have the potential for abuse and are, therefore, considered controlled substances. This means there are special rules for prescribing and dispensing them. Because of this, it is important to keep your child's medication in a safe place.
Stimulants come in both short-acting and long-acting (or extended-release) forms. Long-acting stimulants offer the advantage of lasting throughout the entire school day, so a child does not need to take a dose while at school. In addition, some evidence suggests that long-acting stimulants may be less likely to be abused than short-acting ones.
Stimulants also come in different forms, including:
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Liquids
  • Chewable tablets
  • Patch.
Which form you should use depends on your and your child's preference. For example, if your child has difficulty swallowing pills, you may want to ask your child's healthcare provider about the chewable tablet, liquid, or patch stimulants.
Stimulants and Abuse Potential
As mentioned, stimulants are considered controlled substances because they have the potential for abuse. However, there is no convincing evidence that children with ADHD will abuse their stimulant medications. Instead, evidence suggests that children who receive stimulants to treat ADHD are less likely to smoke or abuse other substances.
Keep in mind, however, that stimulants may be abused or misused by children who do not have ADHD. These children may want to use a stimulant to improve their alertness, or simply to "get high." Therefore, make sure to keep your child's medicine in a safe place.
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