ADHD Medication: Stimulants, Non-stimulants, and More

ADHD Medications

Add-on. Concerta, Strattera, Ritalin, and Vyvanse. It might be overwhelming to choose the best treatment option due to the plethora of ADHD drug options available. Here, an expert provides clear explanations of stimulants and non-stimulants for both adults and kids.

Which ADHD Medication Therapies Are the Best?

At best, there are an overwhelming amount of drugs available to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Choosing the right drug for you or your child—or whether to medicate at all—requires a very personal decision.

Stimulants, which are thought to be the initial line of treatment for ADHD, are the general term for the ADHD drugs that are provided to adults. This group includes variants of amphetamines as well as methylphenidate, the most often used medication for ADHD.

Up to 30% of patients do not respond to stimulants. Hence, non-stimulants are administered to those who cannot handle or benefit from stimulant drugs. The four non-stimulants, atomoxetine, guanfacine, viloxazine, and clonidine, are licensed to treat ADHD. To address symptoms that stimulants are unable to relieve, non-stimulants may sometimes be prescribed in addition to stimulants.

The following, listed alphabetically, are the most often prescribed ADHD drugs among ADDitude readers:

  •  (Amphetamine) Adderall XR
  •  (Methylphenidate) Concerta
  •  (Amphetamine), Dexedrine
  •  (The amphetamine) Evekeo
  •  (Dexmethylphenidate) Focalin XR
  •  (Methylphenidate), Quillivant XR
  •  (Methylene), Ritalin
  •  (Atomoxetine hydrochloride), Strattera
  • Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, or Vyvanse
  • Dexmethylphenidate and serdex methylphenidate are known as Azstarys.

The differences and similarities between these. And other ADHD treatment options continue to baffle a lot of parents and adults with the disorder. The most common stimulants and non-stimulants used to treat ADHD are side by side compared in our ADHD medication chart.

Which Newest ADHD Drugs Are Available?

In 2021 and 2022, respectively, Qelbree, a non-stimulant, was licensed for the treatment of ADHD in children and adults.

In 2021, Azstarys, a once-daily central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, was approved to treat ADHD in patients six years of age or older.

When Jornay PM is taken in the evening, it takes effect as soon as the patient wakes up. And continues to do so throughout the day.

The FDA gave Xelstrym approval in March 2022. This transdermal amphetamine patch is used once daily to treat people with ADHD.

How Is ADHD Treated Using Stimulant Drugs?

ADHD Medication

A lack of a certain neurotransmitter, or a combination of neurotransmitters, in particular brain regions causes ADHD, a neurological condition. Chemicals called neurotransmitters act as a bridge, or synapse, between nerve cells to transfer signals between them.3.

Together with its constituent neurotransmitters, dopa. And dopamine, norepinephrine, is a crucial neurotransmitter that is frequently lacking in people with ADHD. The main stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD should theoretically increase the production of this neurotransmitter deficit by stimulating particular brain cells. Though it’s unclear exactly how these drugs reduce ADHD symptoms, that’s why they are regarded as stimulants.

Since the 1930s, two primary kinds of stimulant drugs have been in use: methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine, both of which are generic names.4 All name-brand stimulants are essentially these two drugs. For example, dextro-amphetamine is modified in the ADHD drug Adderall. On the other hand, methylphenidate is available in a variety of forms, each with its own name, such as a skin patch, liquid, and chewable tablet.

How Do ADHD Treatment Non Stimulants Work?

Theoretically, the selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) atomoxetine (brand name Strattera) and viloxazine function by raising norepinephrine and dopamine concentrations in the prefrontal cortex, which is thought to regulate behavior and alleviate symptoms of ADHD.

Alpha2-agonists include guanfacine (Intuniv) and clonidine (Kapvay). Most people believe these drugs function by imitating the effects of norepinephrine on the receptors in the prefrontal cortex.

Despite not being licensed for the treatment of ADHD, doctors frequently prescribe the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) off-label.

How Should ADHD Medication Be Taken?

Among other regulations, the FDA mandates that medicine labels follow its dosage Form and Administration Route: tablet, liquid, patch, capsule, etc. The amount of medication in each unit of liquid, for instance, 5 milligrams per 5 milliliters, is listed on the patient information leaflet enclosed in the medication’s box or container. Daytrana is another medicine that contains methylphenidate. It is a patch that delivers the drug into the bloodstream through the skin.

The dose quantity or strength is the precise amount of medication released into the blood over a predetermined time. Stated differently, the numerical value assigned to each product denotes the total amount of medication in the pill rather than the amount in the blood at any given time. The name was given to methylphenidate, which releases 5 mg in tablet form over the course of four hours. Conversely, Adderall XR 20 is a capsule that releases 10 mg of Adderall instantly and another 10 mg four hours later.

How Do ADHD Treatment Non Stimulants Work?

Alpha2-agonists include guanfacine (Intuniv) and clonidine (Kapvay). Most people believe these drugs function by imitating the effects of norepinephrine on the receptors in the prefrontal cortex.

Benefits and Drawbacks of ADHD Medicine

Medication is not a magic bullet for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it does assist many of them. We discovered that 84% of the families had used medicine at some stage. Furthermore, almost 50% of the kids surveyed in our study reported trying two or more drugs in the previous three years.

The children who had tried medicine on average were 13 years old, while the children who had never tried medication on average were 10 years old.

What Adverse Reactions Are Cause by ADHD Medication?

In general, stimulant drugs have the following adverse effects:

  •  diminished hunger
  •  stomach ache
  •  disruptions to sleep
  •  headaches

 Among the adverse consequences linked to non-stimulants are:

  • exhaustion
  •  stomach ache
  •  diminished hunger
  •  nausea

When using alternate stimulant drugs, adverse effects are frequently experienced by patients. If the patient does not experience any advantages.Doctors may begin with lower doses and gradually raise the dosage if the side effects are manageable. To get the most benefit with manageable side effects. Doctors should titrate the dosage of ADHD medication, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).Six

Final Thoughts On Continued Use of ADHD Medication

In conclusion, the continued use of ADHD medication can be a valuable tool for individuals struggling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While medication alone may not be a cure, it can significantly improve a person’s ability to focus, manage impulsive behavior, and regulate emotions. However, it is essential to remember that medication should always be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as therapy and behavioral interventions. Additionally, each individual’s response to medication may vary, and it is crucial to assess its effectiveness and potential side effects regularly. Ultimately, the decision to continue using ADHD medication should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional, taking into account the individual’s unique circumstances, needs, and goals.

The therapist may choose to switch to a non-stimulant or another stimulant if negative reactions continue.

Freya Parker

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