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What Is the Most Effective Medication for Adult ADHD?

Which adult ADHD medication is the most effective?
 

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Answer

This is a tough question. Why? Because most of the time, research studies compare one drug to one placebo (a sugar pill with no active ingredients). It's not very often that they compare one drug versus another drug. This makes it difficult to know which drugs are more effective than others unless there is a clear "leader of the pack."
 
Why can't we just compare studies? It doesn't work that way. Because different studies use different protocols, different people, and different criteria, it's not fair to compare drugs that way.
 
Even more importantly, we think the question of which adult ADHD medication is most effective isn't as useful as this question: which adult ADHD medication is the best medication? This takes into account the safety, effectiveness, and overall appropriateness of the medication. Here is a useful analogy: in many cases, the most effective pain medications are heavy-duty narcotics like morphine. But much of the time (for instance, for everyday aches and pains), these medications are not the best, due to the risks involved.
 
So what is the best adult ADHD medication, you ask? There is no single best medication. In some cases, stimulants may be the best. In other cases, nonstimulants may be the best. What's best for someone else may not be best for you. After all, it doesn't matter how impressively effective a medication is, if it has intolerable side effects or risks or just doesn't work for you.
 
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