Common Misconceptions About ADHD Medications

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Hey everyone, Emily here with another blog post because I get these questions a lot in new patient visits.

As a medical practitioner specializing in adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), I successfully use medications to treat ADHD every day.  In our practice, education is a cornerstone of every treatment plan, and I strive to provide my patients with accurate information about their ADHD medications.

Unfortunately, many of my patients have heard inaccurate information about their medications.  Whether online, in the media, or from well-intentioned (but misinformed) family members and friends, there’s a lot of misleading information out there.  In today’s blog, I’d like to address some of these common misconceptions.

Misconception: ADHD medications are a “new” treatment.

Fact: ADHD medications have been safely prescribed for over 50 years, and no research indicates that there are common long-term health problems associated with their use.

Misconception: ADHD medications are not safe to use.  They cause X side effect.

Fact: Like all medications, those used for ADHD have side effects, but they are usually not serious.  Commonly reported ones include decreased appetite, irritability, and headaches. It’s important to let me know about any side effects you might be experiencing.  Oftentimes, they can be successfully managed by changing your dose or dosing schedule, or switching to a different medication.

Misconception: People who take medications for ADHD are more likely to abuse illicit drugs.

Fact: Research shows that people with ADHD who receive appropriate treatment for their condition are actually less likely to abuse drugs, compared to those who do not receive treatment.  While it’s true that stimulant ADHD medications may be abused, this typically occurs when people who do not have ADHD use these medications recreationally.

Misconception: ADHD medications only need to be taken during work or school.

Fact: Every patient with ADHD is different.  While some patients do find that they only need medication for work or school, other patients find that they are also able to perform better in their personal and social lives with medication.  There is no right or wrong medication regimen for ADHD medications–only the regimen that works best for your unique situation.

Misconception: No one “needs” to take ADHD medications.  They could improve on their own if they just tried hard enough.

Fact: Again, each patient is unique.  Some patients with ADHD may be able to manage their symptoms through behavior therapy or ADHD coaching.  However, many patients find that they do require medical treatment to overcome ADHD. ADHD medications are actually the most common treatment for ADHD, and are effective in more than 80% of patients who try them.