What are the best long-term treatments for ADHD in children?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Researchers studying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are still trying to identify the most effective long-term treatments for ADHD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a 1999 study showed that a combination of medication and behavioral therapies was most effective at reducing ADHD symptoms. This benefit seemed to last for several years.

However, a later study showed that, after many years, the effectiveness of combined medication and behavioral treatment might start to wear off. In 2007, Dr. Brooke Molina from the University of Pittsburgh reexamined the children from the 1999 study, who were now in high school. Results from this study showed that ADHD medication and behavioral treatment effects did not always last long-term. Most of the children who were using medications as treatment in 1999 had discontinued their medications by the 2007 follow-up. Those who were doing well in treatment in the 1999 study were still doing well in 2007. Interestingly, the youth who had discontinued medication treatment by 2007 were doing about as well as those who were still taking medication.

But, overall, the young people with ADHD were not as academically and socially prepared as their peers. Youth with ADHD also faced a higher risk of having mental health problems and trouble with the law than the average population.

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