Myth: ADHD Medication is Not Safe

Eileen Bailey Health Guide



    Most medications prescribed to treat ADHD are stimulant medications and a physician must prescribe all. The majority of medications are considered to be controlled substances, which means that the medication is prescribed on a 30-day basis. Every month the patient must obtain a new written prescription from their doctor. Strattera is the first non-stimulant medication approved for treating ADHD.


    There are many myths and misunderstandings regarding medication for ADHD. These include the following:


    ADHD Medications have disturbing side effects.

    According to the Learning Assessment and Neurocare Centre, in their article entitled Common Myths About ADHD, "The perception of side effects is sensationalised and inaccurately portrayed by the media and the ignorant. Any medication for any condition, including those bought over the counter, can have potential side effects in some people. It is important to put the situation into perspective. Approximately 20% of children on psychostimulant medication may have transient, mild, short term side effects that can usually be alleviated by careful dosage or timing adjustments.

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    Giving Children Ritalin is like giving them cocaine and causes psychosis without "medication holidays"

    The chemical properties of Ritalin are different than those of cocaine. When used properly, and under the supervision of a physician, using Ritalin, or other stimulant medications does not lead to psychosis, addition or dependence. For some people, the use of stimulant medication has been shown to lower the risk of later substance abuse.

    Medication holidays have been greatly debated. Some parents and doctors feel that it is a good idea to go off medication during school breaks; however, others feel that the benefits of medication warrant consistency. ADHD is known to impact every aspect of daily life, including academic, work, and social functions. Taking medication during school breaks provides the child to receive the benefit of camp or social experiences while taking medication.

    The use of stimulant medications has been well researched and it is documented that children, adolescents and adults with ADHD can be safely treated.


    Children treated with stimulant medications will become addicted t the medication.

    In many studies, the opposite has been found to be true. Children that receive treatment, including stimulant medication, for their ADHD symptoms have been found to be at a lower risk for substance abuse than those with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD.


    Suggested Reading:


    The Basics of ADHD Medications


    Medications for ADHD




    ADHD Medications: Are They Safe?, Willima Barbaresi, MD, Mayo Clinic

    Myths About ADD/ADHD, Attention Deficit Disorder Association










Published On: October 02, 2007