Whether we like it or not, pharmacology (the prescribing of medication) seems to be the first choice of professionals when faced with treating a child or adult with ADD/ADHD.
ADD/ADHD is believed to be a malfunction of the dopamine transmitter system in the brain.These transmitters are responsible for the reuptake of dopamine from the synaptic gap into the nerve cells.If the number of transmitters is too high, then the available dopamine is in short supply, and voila, ADD/ADHD symptoms appear!The drugs used by physicians are thought to target the dopamine system of the brain to alleviate symptoms.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to attempt to explain the different types of ADD/ADHD medications and how they are thought to work.In addition, you will begin to see that much of the hype surrounding these drugs has been produced by the drug companies that manufacture them.More hype equals better sales!
You need to understand and be aware that the pharmacology business is huge and the profits are staggering.While the argument can certainly be made that the drugs are beneficial for those suffering form ADD/ADHD, it is up to you to be a smart consumer.Educate yourself about these drugs before you buy into the drug company’s testimonials.
Let’s first review the 3 types of ADHD.
§Inattentive Only:This sufferer cannot pay attention, but is completely capable of sitting still and not causing disruption.This used to be known as ADD.
§Hyperactive/Impulsive:This is the person who can pay attention and focus, but cannot sit still no matter what!He might be impulsive, blurting out answers before called on, for example.Impulsivity is usually manifested by acting without thinking first about the consequences.
§Combined Inattentive/Hyperactive/Impulsive:This is the most commonly diagnosed of the three kinds, and as you can see, it includes all of the symptoms.
There are 3 common medications used to treat ADD/ADHD.Psychostimulant medications are the most well known and best researched drugs.Studies have shown that as many as 9 out of 10 patients experience a significant decrease in their symptoms.But remember, these studies are normally done by the drug company that makes the drug!In other cases, the studies done by private researchers are often funded by the drug company.In other words, there is often a direct correlation between successful findings and the drugs being represented by a company!
Amphetamines are the other group of drugs that are the most commonly used and prescribed.If you are thinking, “Wait a minute, isn’t an amphetamine the same thing as ‘speed’?”Yep, you are correct.For some odd chemical reason, the same stuff that revs up “normal” people is thought to calm the sufferer of ADD/ADHD.Again, when you think about it, taking speed for your ADD/ADHD symptoms seems sort of scary, doesn’t it?
While I am on the subject of psychostimulants and amphetamines, did you know that these are Class 2 drugs?This means that they are controlled substances because if misused, they can be quite dangerous.Of course, that probably leads you to ask, “So why would I give that to my child or take it myself?”Good question!
When a child or adult does not respond well to the above two classes of medications, he either experiences no real positive effects from the medicine or the side effects are too uncomfortable to tolerate (more about that later).So the second line of treatment is the prescription of antidepressant medications.The studies of this remedy assert that 60-70% of patients taking these drugs experience improvement in their ADD/ADHD symptoms.
No two people experience the effects of these medications the same.That is because the symptoms vary from person to person and in their severity.It is ultimately up to you, as a parent, or you as the adult ADHDer, to determine whether you want these substances in your body.What I want to do here is to educate you thoroughly about the drugs used to treat ADD/ADHD so that you can make an informed choice about your decision to either medicate or not.If there are alternatives to medication, though, don’t you thin k you owe it to yourself to find out all you can about prescription drugs versus other alternative treatments?