The most commonly used stimulants for the treatment of ADD include Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta. The non-stimulant drug Strattera has also been widely prescribed as treatment for ADD.
While there is a place for prescription medication in certain cases of ADD, careful consideration should be taken regarding possible side effects and cautions.
Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about using these medications.
There are some difficulties in using stimulants to treat ADD in teens and adults. Stimulants are controlled substances and it is not uncommon for adults or teens with ADD to have or to have had problems with substance abuse.
Short-acting stimulants may wear off quickly, and since adult patients administer the medication themselves but usually have problems with forgetfulness, consistency can be problematic with multiple-day dosing.
Adults may experience significant difficulty in the evening when they do housework, pay bills, help children with homework, or drive. They may be tempted to use substances 'to relax', which can lead to addiction and drug-dependency. Teens may sell their medication to friends, or combine it with other substances.
Research into the long-term effects of Ritalin and other drugs prescribed for ADD is still in its early stages, and must be continued.
Discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of using these medications or treating your teen with these medications.
It is strongly advised that the following criteria are fully investigated with regards to any stimulant drugs: common uses, cautions, possible side effects, overdose, additional information, and major drug interactions.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are still investigating certain side effects of certain prescription ADD drugs, and it is advisable that individuals do their own research into these medications so that they are fully aware of the potential risks.
Alternative solutions for ADD and ADHD including being proactive and taking initiative to find the best possible treatment plan. Be positive. Here are a few tips.
Tips for you as an ADD Adult:
- Set aside a few minutes each night to schedule the following day's events
- Organize needed everyday items so you know where things are
- Use diaries and notebook organizers
- Don’t be too hard on yourself or set unrealistic goals
Activities to Pursue:
While there is no single activity that guarantees teens with ADD instant success, certain types of activities tend to reap more positive results.
- Look for activities with a singular focus, such as sports that center attention
- Consider activities that involve movement, providing an appropriate and controlled physical outlet
- Learn to play a musical instrument
- Seek activities that offer individualized instruction
- Explore activities that result in tangible rewards
Activities to Avoid:
- Those that involve a lot of down time
- Those that require too much divided attention
- Those that require fine motor skills
Special Advice for Managing Teens with ADD
Tips for you as a parent to help your ADD teen:
- Maintain as much routine and consistency as possible
- Try to avoid major or frequent changes
- Ensure that family relationships are stable
- Be very consistent in your discipline and keep all rules the same
- Speak often to your teen's teachers
- Engage in activities that promote concentration and listening skills
- Use frequent eye contact when speaking to your teen or giving instructions
- Keep directions simple and set simple house rules
- Provide a structured outlet for hyperactivity
- Teach using as many of the senses as possible and make learning interactive
- Review your expectations for your teen
- Reward positive behavior immediately
- Anticipate situations
- Make sure your teen is supervised at all times
- Learn and understand the symptoms of ADD
- Schedule tasks and reminders
- Organize needed everyday items
- Use homework and notebook organizers
- Set a homework routine
- Focus on effort, not grades
- Make a special effort to highlight positives in your child
Try not to:
- Use physical punishment
- Put too many expectations on your teen
- Focus too much on the areas your teen is struggling with
One of the difficulties in diagnosing adults with attention deficit disorder is that it is often accompanied by other problems.
A number of disorders may mimic or accompany ADD. Many experts believe the term ADD should be used to describe a collective group of symptoms and behavioral problems. Many of these problems require other methods of treatment and should be diagnosed separately, even if they accompany ADD.
Because emotional disorders and attention disorders so often go hand-in-hand, every teen exhibiting ADD symptoms should be checked for accompanying anxiety and depression.
Conditions Commonly Coexisting with ADD
ADD may coexist with one or more disorders. The most common disorders to occur in an adult with ADD are:
- Disruptive behavior disorders
- Tics and Tourette's Syndrome
- Learning disabilities
Of course, not all adults with ADD have an additional disorder. Nor do all people with learning disabilities, Tourette's syndrome, oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder have ADD. But when they do occur together, the combination of problems can seriously complicate a person's life.
- Learning Disabilities.
Many teens with ADD also have a specific learning disability (LD). Reading, writing difficulties, or arithmetic disorders may appear. Dyslexia, a type of reading disorder, is quite widespread.
- Tourette's Syndrome.
A very small proportion of people with ADD have a neurological disorder called Tourette's syndrome. People with Tourette's syndrome have various nervous tics and repetitive mannerisms, such as eye blinks, facial twitches, or grimacing. They may also experience sudden verbal or behavioral outbursts or even problems with anger management. Psycho-stimulant ADD drug treatment may exacerbate the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome and some believe it may even precipitate the disorder.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
It is important to note that any teenager, whether or not they are suffering from ADD, will at times feel frustrated and misunderstood. Their behavior could easily be seen as defiant, confrontational, and disrespectful, which may present itself as ODD. Similarly, asserting his or her independence is a normal stage in any teen's transition into young adulthood. Once again, correct evaluation is essential.
- Conduct Disorder (CD).
Conduct disorder (CD) is sometimes seen as a more serious pattern of antisocial behavior. Similarly, as with ODD, it is important to note that most teens will ‘act out’ occasionally. A teenager who has emotional problems may destroy property, steal, and lie – all of which can be misdiagnosed as CD.
- Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and Depression.
Anyone diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, mood disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, or any other emotional disorder as the principal diagnosis may not be diagnosed with ADD. Emotional disorders must be treated separately.
- Sleep Disorders.
Sleep disorders or disturbances are very common in ADD individuals, which can lead to the age old ‘chicken or the egg’ question... “Am I struggling to sleep because of the ADD, or am I suffering with ADD symptoms due to lack of sleep?” Ironically, many stimulant drugs used to treat ADD list sleep problems as a possible side effect to the prescribed medication.