Alternatives to Ritalin
Whether or not ADHD medications are used, several steps can be taken to help children with ADHD. Helping the child to develop a routine is often useful. Developing systems to keep the child organized (such as notebooks or binders for homework) can also be helpful. Talk to your child's school about a 504 plan. A 504 plan (named after the law that requires public schools to accommodate children with disabilities) outlines the steps the school will take to help your child do his or her best at school. The plan also addresses how your child will receive medication at school.
Any behavioral change involves a well-balanced ADHD treatment plan, including social, educational, and mental therapy. Several different types of therapy are used for ADHD, including:
- Behavioral therapies
- Social skills training
- Support groups
- Parenting skill training
- Behavioral interventions.
Sometimes, only the child with ADHD needs counseling support. In many cases, however, the entire family may need help, because the problem affects the family as a whole. If lifestyle changes alone are not effective in improving symptoms of ADHD, medications (such as Ritalin) may be necessary.
(Click Behavior Therapy for ADHD to learn more about the different types of ADHD therapy.)
Ritalin is probably the best known stimulant medication for ADHD; however, other choices in stimulant medications may be considered as alternatives to Ritalin. Stimulants are effective, but they are also controlled substances and have the potential to be abused. Because of this, there are strict rules concerning the prescription of stimulants (see Ritalin: A Controlled Substance for more information).
Many of the stimulant medications for ADHD contain similar ingredients, but differ in how long the medication lasts or how the medication is released (immediate-release versus extended-release). In addition to Ritalin, the other stimulant medication choices include:
- Other methylphenidate products (containing the same active ingredient as Ritalin), including:
- Daytrana®, a methylphenidate patch
- Methylin®, which is short-acting, like Ritalin, but comes in chewable tablets and a liquid form
- Long-acting methylphenidate products, such as Concerta®, Metadate CD®, Metadate ER®, Ritalin LA®, and Ritalin SR® (see Methylphenidate Extended Release for more information)
- Adderall XR® (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine extended-release), a long-acting version of Adderall
Provigil® (modafinil) is a stimulant that is sometimes used in an off-label fashion to treat ADHD (meaning it is not approved for this use and has not been adequately studied in people with ADHD). This drug may be less likely to be abused than other stimulants.