Commonly Prescribed ADHD Medications
One of the first - and sometimes ardently promoted - treatments
for Attention Deficit Disorder is stimulant ADHD medications.
The ADHD medications for children most commonly prescribed are Ritalin,
Adderall and Concerta.
ADHD medications for children like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta are found
to have a short-term effectiveness of 60 to 80 percent in
reducing the symptoms of ADHD in
For these people, ADHD medications reduce their hyperactivity
and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. The ADHD
medications may also improve physical coordination, such as
handwriting and ability in sports.
However, there are downsides and side effects to Ritalin,
Adderall, Concerta and others. Many doctors feel
the side effects of should be carefully weighed
against the benefits before prescribing medications like
Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta.
Ritalin was derived from Dexedrine in the 1950's, initially to
minimize the side effects of appetite suppression and insomnia.
Ritalin is now the most frequently prescribed stimulant drug for
ADHD, and the focus of much of
the controversy about stimulant drugs.
Ritalin is available in both a short and long acting form. The
short acting form generally begins working about 30 minutes
after it is administered, peaks at two hours and is gone at four
hours. It must be taken several times daily. Ritalin sustained
release tablets last about eight hours.
Ritalin affects children in the same way that related stimulants
like Cocaine affects adults. It sharpens the short-term
attention span when the drug kicks in and produces equally
predictable valleys when Ritalin wears off.
Common Ritalin side effects are headaches, abdominal pain,
nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, cardiac arrhythmia and weight
loss. Long-term use has also been linked to abnormalities in
brain development similar to those found with Cocaine. Safety
and effectiveness has not been established in children under 6
years of age.
Adderall was approved for unrestricted use for the treatment of
ADHD by the FDA in 1996 and is quickly becoming one of the more
widely prescribed ADHD medications. Though Adderall is a fairly
new drug in the treatment of ADHD, Adderall was
first developed about 20 years ago under the name "Obetrol" and
was marketed for weight loss and diet control.
Adderall is a "cocktail" drug that combines four drugs from the
amphetamine family to provide a broad spectrum of coverage. The
effects of Adderall can be felt after only a few doses but often
takes additional time to achieve the full effect.
Adderall last about six hours per dose, which alleviates the
need for children to take doses during the school day. Doctors
and parents administering this ADHD medications for children report that Adderall can
be less "harsh" than Ritalin, with less peaks and valleys.
The most common
side effects Adderall has are restlessness,
dizziness, insomnia, headache, dryness of the mouth, and weight
medications ADHD drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction,
especially among people who do not have ADHD.
Concerta is one the newest drugs to appear on the
market and is the longest acting. The FDA approved the 12-hour
Concerta, a reformulation of Ritalin, in 2000.
Concerta contains methylphenidate, the same medication found in
Ritalin, though the medical community has not yet determined the
long-term effects of having methylphenidate in the bloodstream
for prolonged hours every day.
The time released Concerta tablet has an outer coat of
medication that dissolves quickly and then two small
compartments of medication inside that release gradually.
Concerta, like Adderall, provide longer, more even action than
The benefit of Concerta, and Adderall, is that children do not
need to receive an extra dose during the school hours. The
downside to Concerta is that, because of the drug-release
system, you cannot cut the Concerta pill to decrease the dosage
or chew the Concerta tablet because that will destroy the
release mechanism. Adderall tablets are scored to allow
Also, Concerta tablets are not completely digested and remnants
of the Concerta tablet can often be seen in stools. Concerta
isn't recommended for children with gastrointestinal narrowing
and digestive problems. Concerta is not recommended for children
under the age of six.
The most common Concerta side effects are headache, upper
respiratory tract infection, stomach ache, vomiting, loss of
appetite, sleeplessness, increased cough, sore throat,
sinusitis, and dizziness. Other side effects are reduced
stature, tics, moodiness and psychosis.
Concerta is not recommended for people with marked anxiety or
agitation, glaucoma, or tics. It is also contraindicated during
any treatment with monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Weighing Benefits Against Side Effects: With the correct dosage, ADHD medications
for children can control their hyperactivity, inattention, and
other behaviors. Yet, the medical community remains divided on
the detriment/benefit issue that weighs the benefits of ADHD
medications against side effects.
Most doctors feel the potential side effects should be carefully
weighed against the benefits before prescribing the drugs.
Children might lose weight, have problems falling asleep, have
decreased appetite, and temporarily grow more slowly while
taking ADHD medications. Some doctors also believe that some
of these medications may also worsen the symptoms of Tourette's
Prescriptions for these medications is an increasingly
controversial area of treatment. ADHD medications- Ritalin the
most prescribed, with Adderall gaining in prescription
popularity - do not always work, do not treat the core cause of ADHD and could have long-term
ADHD medications can allow people to focus and pay better
attention but that does not verify that the person does indeed
have Attention Deficit Disorder ADD ADHD. It simply means that
the person performs better on stimulant drugs. Many people,
Attention Deficit or not, experience improved performance on
stimulant ADHD medications.
Parents need to be clear about the benefits, as well as the
potential side effects of ADHD medications Ritalin, Adderall and
Concerta. Many opt to look for a safe and effective
Adderall alternative, like the Attend
line of natural and safe products.
The Military Personnel Procurement Manual lists the prescribed
use of Ritalin as a "permanent disqualifier" for joining the
Studies show that stimulants cause especially severe reactions
in young children. Studies remain inconclusive on the effects of
ADHD medications to the development of the very young child's
An Archives of General Psychiatry research report states that
cocaine, one of the most addicting of the abused drugs, has
pharmacological actions very similar to those of methylphenidate
(Ritalin and Concerta).
All ADHD medications prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder
ADD ADHD are closely related to illegal street drugs. These
include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, street name "dexies"),
methamphetamine (street name "crystal meth") and cocaine.
Parents of children diagnosed with ADHD often feel overwhelmed and trapped in a very bad
situation. The physician's first line of defense in treatment is
typically powerful ADHD medications like Ritalin, Adderall and
Doctors typically consider ADHD medications such as Ritalin,
Adderall and Concerta safe though they can be addictive to
teenagers and adults if misused. The debate on whether stimulant
ADHD medications prescribed to children lead to drug addiction
later in life still bubbles.
These ADHD medications can work effectively for the majority of
children but also have potentially harmful side effects. Many
parents questioning whether administering ADHD medications like
Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta is in their child's best interest
The Ritalin Boom:
The medical community remains unclear about the best way to
diagnose and treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder
ADD ADHD. Some in the medical community say many children are
misdiagnosed and are taking ADHD medications like Ritalin,
Adderall and Concerta that are not needed.
Anxiety, depression, allergies, seizures, or problems with the
home or school environment can mimic Attention Deficit Disorder
ADD ADHD symptoms.
Many parents and physicians express concerns about the
over-prescribing of Ritalin and other ADHD medications. Other
critics argue that many ADHD medications are used loosely as a
way to control disruptive behaviors in children.
If anyone questions the widespread nature of Ritalin and other
Attention Deficit Disorder ADD ADHD medications commonly
prescribed, consider these statistics:
About six million children, roughly one in eight children, will
take Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta or other ADHD medications.
Since 1991, prescriptions for ADHD medications quintupled.
In that same time period, Ritalin use for the symptoms of
Attention Deficit Disorder ADD ADHD increased 700 percent.
Five lawsuits over the past three years charge Novartis, the
makers of Ritalin, with using unethical marketing methods to
ADHD medications prescriptions for children ages 2 to 4
increased almost 300% between 1991 and 1995.
The Quick Fix?:
Research is clear that stimulant ADHD medications can be
helpful, at least in the short term. Parents and teachers often
rush to applaud ADHD medications when the child's schoolwork and
behavior improve after starting ADHD medications.
While the ADHD medications can allow these changes to take
place, the effect wears off when the ADHD medications wear off.
The ADHD medications do not increase knowledge or improve
academic skills, though the ADHD medications can help people pay
better attention and complete their work.
The ADHD medications only control the symptoms instead of
ADHD causes. ADHD medications are like glasses, braces or allergy
medications. These ADHD medications don't cure the disorder.
They only temporarily control the symptoms.
The Montreal Children's Hospital conducted a comprehensive study
of the long-term effects of children on ADHD medications. The
study concluded that, at the end of five years, hyperactive
children who received ADHD medications did not differ
significantly from children who had not received drug
Although the hyperactive children treated with Ritalin and other
ADHD medications were initially more manageable, they fared the
same in the degree of improvement and emotional adjustment at
the end of five years to the control group of hyperactive
children who did not receive ADHD medications.
A growing number of health professionals, parents and educators
believe that Attention Deficit Disorder ADD ADHD is a disorder,
but they do not agree that a long-term course of medication is
Since children do not outgrow ADHD, medications merely postpone dealing with the causes.
Because of this, many health professionals believe that children
displaying ADHD symptoms should not be treated solely with
Addressing the Root Causes:
Medical professionals who believe in the sparing use of ADHD
medications advocate identifying the underlying causes of symptoms and dealing with
those first before rushing into a course of ADHD medication.
For lasting improvement, many doctors recommend behavioral
therapy, emotional counseling and practical support in addition
to a healthy diet and nutritional supplements, like Attend, to
diminish the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD.