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Drug Treatments for ADHD

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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.

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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:

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