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How are stimulant medications given for ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine

A doctor prescribes stimulant medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) after completing a thorough behavioral and medical history. Since each person responds differently to a given drug, a doctor must make the most educated guess as to which medication, and which dose, will be most effective. 

Stimulant medications may be given in pill, capsule, or liquid form. Some people receive the medication through a skin patch that is placed on the body. Stimulant medications come in three varieties: extended-release, long-acting, or short-acting. The longer-acting medications are often a good choice for children who attend school. This eliminates the need for them to take a dose of the medication at school in the middle of the day. The long-release formulas keep a steady dose of medicine in their bodies during the school day. 

When a person begins treatment with stimulant medications for ADHD, they should be monitored closely for side effects and to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug. If side effects become intolerable, the dose or type of medication should be changed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.