What if my teenager refuses to take his medication for ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Invite your teenager to play an active role in determining the most trouble-free treatment for their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At this age, young people are often trying to communicate their independence, and they may resist doing what their parents tell them. This means that they might refuse to take their medication every day.

Let your teenager visit with the doctor alone, which may help him or her to feel more in control of the treatment process. Encourage the doctor or psychologist to education your teen about the benefits that ADHD medications provide.

If your teenager really feels that they do not need the medications anymore, allow the doctor to guide them in reducing their medication dosage. You and your teen can observe any changes in behavior or school performance while the medication dose is reduced. Based on these observations, you may be okay with your teen taking less medication, or you both may realize that the medication is necessary.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

All teenagers tend to exhibit some resistant behavior (we’ve all been there), but when it comes to refusing to take medication, it can be particularly tough for you as a parent. One way to handle this issue is to agree to a trial period without the drugs. If the trial goes well (keeping up with schoolwork, few disobedient episodes, no disruptive behavior in school), then maybe it really is time to stop the medication. If it doesn’t work out, then your teen now knows what happens and hopefully will be more willing to take his medication. If you are really concerned, talk to his doctor. Sometimes getting advice and instructions from someone other than your dear old Mom or Dad is more effective.

Continue Learning about ADHD

ADHD Advice for Smart Parents
ADHD Advice for Smart Parents
Finding out that your child has a condition such as ADHD can be difficult, to put it mildly. For many parents, it's life changing. When my husband and...
Read More
How should I discipline a child with ADHD?
Sigma NursingSigma Nursing
Children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have discipline...
More Answers
Is ADHD a learning disability?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not a learning disability. ADHD is a behavioral d...
More Answers
Why You Should Be Concerned About Artificial Food Dyes
Why You Should Be Concerned About Artificial Food Dyes

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.