Skip to content

ADD & ADHD Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Drug Treatments for ADHD

Medication is an important part of your ADHD treatment. Many types of drugs can be used to control symptoms of the disorder.

You and your doctor will work together to figure out which medication is right for you, along with the ideal dose (amount) and schedule (how often or when you need to take it). It may take some time to figure those things out.

Recommended Related to ADD-ADHD

ADHD and Substance Abuse

ADHD may last into adulthood about a third to half the time, and some studies have shown that children with ADHD may be more likely than the general population to develop alcohol and substance abuse problems when they get older.

Read the ADHD and Substance Abuse article > >

Medications come in different forms:

  • Short-acting (immediate-release). These take effect quickly. They can wear off quickly, too. You may need to take these several times a day.
  • Intermediate-acting. These last longer than short-acting versions.
  • Long-acting forms. You might only need to take this kind once a day.

Stimulants for ADHD

This group of drugs has treated ADHD for several decades. These medicines might help you focus your thoughts and ignore distractions. Stimulant meds work for 70% to 80% of people.

They’re used to treat both moderate and severe ADHD. They may be helpful for children, teens, and adults who have a hard time at school, work, or home. Some stimulants are approved for use in children over age 3. Others are approved for children over age 6.

Stimulant medications include:

  • Amphetamine sulfate (Evekeo)
  • Dextroamphetamine (Adderall and Adderall XR, Dexedrine, ProCentra, Zenzedi)
  • Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin and Focalin XR)
  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
  • Methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate CD and Metadate ER, Methylin and Methylin ER, Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Quillivant XR)

Nonstimulant Medications for ADHD

In cases where stimulants don’t work or cause unpleasant side effects, nonstimulants might help. These medications can all improve concentration and impulse control.

Atomoxetine (Strattera) was the first nonstimulant medication approved by the FDA. It’s approved children, adolescents, and adults.

Clonidine hydrochloride (Kapvay) has also been approved for use alone or in combination with a stimulant to boost the effectiveness.

Guanfacine (Intuniv) is approved for children and teens between ages 6 and 17.

What Other Medications Might Help?

Several others are available to treat ADHD. Your doctor might have you try these if:

  • Stimulants and nonstimulants don’t work.
  • Simulants cause side effects that you can’t live with.
  • You have other medical conditions.

These medications include:

Today on WebMD

Post it notes
Symptoms and treatments.
Close up of eye
What's zapping your focus?
 
man driving car
How to manage your impulses.
contemplating woman
Learn to stop procrastinating.
 
concentration killers
SLIDESHOW
Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Article
Reduce Side Effects ADHD Medications
Article
 

boy eating egg
Video
smiling man
Article
 
ADHD in Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Article
Adult man lying awake in bed
Article