Should You Consider Medication in the Treatment of ADHD?There are many treatment options available for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sadly, most people turn to their general family physician or pediatrician to discuss these options — well-meaning medical professionals who can prescribe a quick ADHD medication to help.

Increasingly, some people and doctors seem reluctant to prescribe an ADHD medication, due to misunderstandings about their use (and abuse) by some patients.

That’s why it was a breath of fresh air to come across a blog entry that examined the issue from one doctor’s perspective.

The question is more nuanced than it might first appear to be. Some people’s knee-jerk reaction is, “Well, of course you should consider medication in the treatment of ADHD. It’s the first-line treatment and has been for decades.”

However, that’s not what the 2001 article by Smucker & Hedayat (2001) says. That article suggested ways to best implement the practice guidelines formulated by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). They say that family physicians and pediatricians can create a multimodal treatment plan for their patient that includes psychosocial and behavioral treatments (even if they themselves cannot implement them).

As Iris Lesser, MD notes over at KevinMD:

Those guidelines emphasize the benefits of an integrated approach that combines drug and nondrug therapies. But I am concerned that media hype focusing on overuse rather than misuse of medication can lead to mass hysteria, like that seen with regard to autism and vaccinations.

Given the nationwide prevalence of ADHD, ranging from 4.2 percent in Nevada to 14.8 percent in Kentucky (CDC, 2011), it is important that we not “throw the baby out with the bath water” by negating the value of medication as an integral part of a treatment plan. We cannot return to the dark ages.

Which leads her to conclude:

In my professional opinion — after treating hundreds of ADHD cases since the 1990s — medication is a tool that allows many children with ADHD to benefit from other educational, behavioral and psychological treatments and thus function better in their lives. It’s not for everyone, and is not a magic bullet, but for children who have been appropriately diagnosed, it can mean the difference between success and failure.

So for both adults and children with ADHD, medication is indeed a treatment option you should continue to consider. It’s a legitimate and valuable treatment for ADHD. But if you have concerns about ADHD medication, you should know there are other effective psychotherapy treatments for ADHD you can also consider.

The main point is that ADHD is readily treatable, so there’s no reason to suffer in silence any longer.


Read the full article: ADHD: To medicate or not


Smucker, WD & Hedayat, M. (2001). Evaluation and treatment of ADHD. Am Fam Physician, 1;64(5):817-830.