How Long Does Medication Treatment for ADHD Last?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a prevalent neuropsychiatric condition. In adults, it is characterized by extreme restlessness, inattentiveness, and inability to follow instructions or organize tasks.

ADHD symptoms persist for a long time and require clinical management. And even though the medicines usually start working fast, a person can be on ADHD medication treatment for an extended period. But how long can it take to achieve long-term results and stop taking medications? Let’s explore the topic and learn more below.

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Do Medications for ADHD Help?

ADHD medication enables a person with the disorder to alleviate the symptoms and live a productive life in different ways. It can help improve concentration, control behavior, and be more consistent in their thoughts.

Still, it is important to know that although pharmacological treatments manage ADHD effectively, they do not cure it. That is because ADHD is a lifetime condition and requires regular observation.

However, the need for medication treatment is periodic. Circumstances and severity of the condition usually determine how long and regularly a patient requires medication, and the treatment can continue for many years. Discontinuing ADHD drugs depends on the assessment done during a medication-free break. The treatment breaks are scheduled at regular intervals [2*]  to determine if it is necessary to adjust, continue or discontinue the prescription.

Options for Treating ADHD: Adult Medications

Healthcare providers usually try different types of medicine for ADHD on patients to find out what suits them; ADHD dosage is also tailor-made to treat the person’s specific symptoms. What works for one patient may not be effective for someone else since each patient reacts differently to the medication. Doctors choose from two categories: stimulants and non-stimulants.

Stimulant Medications

Stimulants are usually the first line of prescription for ADHD treatment. They increase serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Stimulants are controlled substances since they are susceptible to addiction.

There are two categories of ADHD stimulants:

Extended-release or intermediate-acting

The patient takes the medication in the morning every day. The medication effects last for six to eight hours, and others up to 16 hours.

Examples of these stimulants include;

  • Adderall XR (Amphetamine / Dextroamphetamine)
  • Focalin XR (Dexmethylphenidate)
  • Adzenys XR-ODT, Dyanavel XR (Amphetamine)
  • Evekeo (Amphetamine sulfate)
  • Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine)
  • Concerta, Daytrana, Ritalin LA, Metadate CD, Quillivant XR, Quillichew ER, Jornay PM (Methylphenidate)
  • Metadate ER, Methylin ER, Ritalin SR (Methylphenidate)
  • Azstarys (Serdexmethylphenidate / Dexmethylphenidate)

Immediate-release or short-acting stimulants

Short-acting stimulants are administered two to three times a day. The effect lasts for about four hours. These stimulants suit patients who would like to control the amount of medication in the body.

Examples of short-acting stimulants include:

  • Adderall (Amphetamine/Dextroamphetamine)
  • Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
  • Ritalin (Methylphenidate)
  • ProCentra, Dexedrine, Zenzedi (Dextroamphetamine)

Consult a doctor to get the most suitable ADHD medication prescribed and receive ongoing support.

Non-stimulant ADHD Medications

Non-stimulant medicines decrease the neurotransmitter’s degradation. They are prescribed if a patient is not responsive to stimulants or has had a history of bipolar, heart conditions, or drug use. The medication is also used for patients who experience extreme side effects from stimulants.

Examples of non-stimulants include:

  • Strattera (Atomoxetine)
  • Qelbree (Viloxazine)
  • Catapres, Kapvay (Clonidine)
  • Tenex, Intuniv (Guanfacine)

Side Effects of ADHD Medications for Adults

Adults on ADHD medication may experience different side effects depending on their drug and their response to treatment. Some of the most common adverse reactions include:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Increased blood pressure and pulse
  • A rebound whereby the patient experiences severe symptoms after the medication wears off
  • Anxiety
  • Tics whereby the patient may develop repetitive movements or sounds

Doctors usually try several types of ADHD medication to establish the one with the least side effects on a patient.

In Conclusion: Can ADHD Be Cured?

ADHD medication is usually the first line of treatment and, in most cases, is generally adequate. Medicines can effectively manage ADHD; however, it may not be possible to cure it. A suitable treatment plan goes a long way in helping patients deal with their symptoms.

Sometimes the doctor might recommend the inclusion of psychotherapeutic interventions. These can be cognitive-behavioral and behavioral therapy to help patients alter their thought processes and habits. To know more about ADHD treatment and get help online, contact EZCare doctors today.


+2 sources
  1. To stop or not to stop? How long should medication treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder be extended? (2011)
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  2. To stop or not to stop? How long should medication treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder be extended? (2011)
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