Medications (ADD)

Most information on this page is from Dr. Russell A. Barkley’s excellent book Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. Please note I am not a medical professional, this information should not be utilized for treatment – refer to an actual medical professional for diagnosis and treatment.

There are two basic forms of stimulants that are available in the United States for the treatment of ADHD.

The first of these is Methylphenidate (MPH). It is used in Ritalin, Focalin, and Methylin – each of which is fast acting and lasts for around 3-5 hours. Extended release versions that release the substance more slowly into the bloodstream extend the time-frame: Ritalin SR (3-8 hrs.), Metadate ER (3-8 hrs.), Methylin ER (8 hrs.), Ritalin LA (8 hrs.), Metadate CD (8 hrs.), and Focalin XR (12 hrs.). Concerta is also a MPH stimulant and lasts for 12 hrs.

The second stimulant is amphetamine (AMP) – and yes, this is the same substance that is used in the street drug known as meth-amphetamine – though in smaller quantities, for specific purposes, and ingested in more safe and less violable manners for the treatment of deficits rather than the pursuit of a psychological or emotional high. These stimulants include Dexedrine (4-5 hrs.), Dextrostat (4-5 hrs.), and Adderall (4-6 hrs.). There are also extended formulations including Dexedrine Spansules (8 hrs.) and Adderall XR (8+ hours).

Additionally Vyvanse (Lisdaxamfetamine Dimesylate) is a newer drug with a 8+ hour effective treatment span which has less potential for abuse.

There are also some non-stimulant medications utilized to treat ADHD. These include Strattera (atomoxetine, lasts for 8-10 hrs) and (for children) Intuniv (guanfacine).

Off-label use of Wellbutrin (Bupropion) to treat ADHD is not uncommon and some research has been occurring into the efficacy of using the antinarcoleptic Provigil (modafinil) as well.

Additional Resources

  • Karen Barrow. Name-Brand Prescriptions vs. Generic Drugs. ADDitude Fall 2010.
    • Interesting article, I’ve almost always used generics, and they seem to work for me, would be interesting to try brand name and see if there was any difference. I’d caution folks not to take away from this article that brand name is always better, as Barrow outlines, sometimes the generics have shown more efficacy for some people.