Day 9: 31 Ways to Make ADHD Medication Less Scary Before Halloween

“I dread the thought of my child being dependent on ADHD medication.”

Hi, it’s Dr. James Wiley with Focus MD. Another thing that parents worry about stimulant medication is that they dread that their child could become dependent on it. And it says right in the package insert of many of the medications that dependence is possible, and that’s a long way from saying that it occurs. In our experience, and in the experience of other ADHD providers, kids don’t become dependent on the medication in the way that you would think a drug addict who is dependent on his or her addiction.

The medication works much more like insulin. When it’s in the system, it’s effective, and when it wears off, it’s not effective and the symptoms come back. So in that sense, the child is dependent on the medicine to control the symptoms, or help him or her control their own behaviors. But it’s not a true dependence in the sense that if they don’t get the medicine, something terrible will happen. Their ADHD symptoms will just come back.

It’s likely that in the first 12 to 24 hours after no medication, symptoms may come back even a little bit stronger than they would have been previously, but after two or three days off of medication, the symptoms will return back just to baseline. So it’s reassuring to know that even over time, kids don’t become dependent on their medication, and that the medications don’t alter brain chemistry to something worse than the ADHD that they had before.

This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.

James Wiley is the founder of Focus-MD. Focus-MD is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD and related problem patients. They provide objective testing, medical treatment as well as behavior modification strategies to help or patients transform from frustration to focus. To find a Focus-MD clinic, click here. 

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