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Medications for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Other names: ADD; Attention Deficit Disorder; Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Childhood Hyperkinesis

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioral disorder diagnosed in roughly 10 percent of school-aged children and adolescents. There are three main subgroups of ADHD:

  • Predominantly inattentive ADHD: inattention is the main characteristic, daydreaming is common
  • Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD: hyperactivity and impulsiveness predominate
  • Combined ADHD: all three behaviors (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness) are present.

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

Each person varies in the severity and frequency of their symptoms. Originally it was thought that ADHD was more common in boys; however, experts believe girls are more likely to present with inattentive characteristics and are more likely overlooked. ADHD occurs across all races and socioeconomic groups.

Symptoms can be grouped depending on the predominant behavior.

Examples of inattentive behavior include:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Daydreaming
  • Disorganization
  • Making silly mistakes
  • Often late
  • Short attention span.

Examples of hyperactive behavior include:

  • Constantly moving
  • Fidgeting
  • High energy levels
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Trouble switching off/sleeping.

Examples of impulsive behavior include:

  • Acting without thinking
  • Blurting out answers/secrets
  • Interrupting
  • Prone to accidents.

Other symptoms that are common to people with ADHD include:

  • Creativity
  • High Intelligence
  • Delayed social maturity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Sensitivity.

What Causes ADHD?

The causes of ADHD are not fully known, but research is actively ongoing. There does appear to be a link between a family history of ADHD (genetics) with over 25% of relatives of families with a child with ADHD who also had the condition. There is also an 82% chance that identical twins will both have ADHD if at least one of them has the condition compared to a 38% chance among fraternal twins.

Other factors that have been identified as possibly contributing to ADHD include:

  • Brain injury from a traumatic event (eg, stroke, head trauma, tumor)
  • Exposure to lead after birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Fetal exposure to alcohol or cigarette smoke
  • Herbicides
  • Pesticides.

There is no evidence that poor parenting, certain foods, sugar, or vaccinations cause ADHD.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

If your child has symptoms suggestive of ADHD then talk with your doctor or pediatrician. They will talk with you, your child, and possibly your child’s school and ask questions that focus on:

  • Ability to control emotions
  • Attentiveness
  • Focus
  • Home and school relationships
  • Hyperactivity.

They will ask if your family has any other family members with ADHD. Most cases of ADHD are diagnosed at age 7 or 8, but symptoms may begin sooner. ADHD usually still persists into adulthood; however, some people have learned how to manage their symptoms better so it may not be as noticeable. 

How is ADHD Treated?

Behavioral education should be considered as first-line treatment for any case of ADHD, particularly in children aged less than 6 years of age, with mild symptoms, or if the family prefers this option over drug therapy.

Pharmacological treatments for ADHD include:

  • Atomoxetine
  • Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts
  • Methylphenidate
  • Other treatments, such as clonidine or guanfacine.

Drugs used to treat ADHD

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
Vyvanse 7.4 730 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: lisdexamfetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Adderall 7.7 305 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: amphetamine / dextroamphetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Adderall XR 8.0 186 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: amphetamine / dextroamphetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Concerta 6.9 354 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

amantadine Off-label 8.1 7 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: amantadine systemic

Drug class: adamantane antivirals, dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

methylphenidate 7.1 749 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methylphenidate systemic

Brand names:  Concerta, Ritalin, Daytrana, Methylin, Quillivant XR, Ritalin LA, Metadate CD, Methylin ER, Adhansia XR, Aptensio XR, Cotempla XR-ODT, Jornay PM, QuilliChew ER, Relexxii …show all

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Strattera 5.4 419 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: atomoxetine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Dexedrine 8.4 79 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: dextroamphetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Ritalin 7.3 128 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

amphetamine / dextroamphetamine 7.1 756 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: amphetamine / dextroamphetamine systemic

Brand names:  Adderall, Adderall XR, Mydayis

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

dextroamphetamine 8.1 158 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: dextroamphetamine systemic

Brand names:  Dexedrine, ProCentra, Zenzedi

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

clonidine 7.5 54 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: clonidine systemic

Brand name:  Kapvay

Drug class: antiadrenergic agents, centrally acting

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Intuniv 6.3 146 reviews
Rx B N X

Generic name: guanfacine systemic

Drug class: antiadrenergic agents, centrally acting

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

bupropion Off-label 6.6 107 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: bupropion systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants, smoking cessation agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

guanfacine 5.8 238 reviews
Rx B N X

Generic name: guanfacine systemic

Brand name:  Intuniv

Drug class: antiadrenergic agents, centrally acting

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Focalin 6.0 101 reviews
Rx C 2

Generic name: dexmethylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Desoxyn 9.7 31 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methamphetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants, anorexiants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

lisdexamfetamine 7.3 757 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: lisdexamfetamine systemic

Brand name:  Vyvanse

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

Daytrana 8.3 71 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Focalin XR 7.2 91 reviews
Rx C 2

Generic name: dexmethylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

atomoxetine 5.3 470 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: atomoxetine systemic

Brand name:  Strattera

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

amphetamine 6.4 112 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: amphetamine systemic

Brand names:  Evekeo, Adzenys ER, Adzenys XR-ODT, Dyanavel XR, Evekeo ODT …show all

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, Prescribing Information

Kapvay 7.4 18 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: clonidine systemic

Drug class: antiadrenergic agents, centrally acting

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Methylin 8.2 14 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Quillivant XR 5.4 19 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Topics under ADHD

Alternative treatments for ADHD

The following products are considered to be alternative treatments or natural remedies for ADHD. Their efficacy may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as the drugs listed in the table above. However there may be historical, cultural or anecdotal evidence linking their use to the treatment of ADHD.

Learn more about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Symptoms and treatments

Drugs.com Health Center

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription Only.
OTC Over the Counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
EUA An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the FDA to authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a declared public health emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
M The drug has multiple schedules. The schedule may depend on the exact dosage form or strength of the medication.
U CSA Schedule is unknown.
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

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