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ADHD Medications

Medically Reviewed
Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus

ADHD Medications

Mental health symptoms and ADHD medications don’t have to be permanent fixtures in your life. There are natural options available to ease your symptoms, heal at the cellular level and rebuild what drugs and other toxic substances have depleted from your well-being.
Psychiatric medications are commonly offered as a quick fix, but their side effects come with detrimental repercussions that can last a very long time. You have options.

Leading-Edge, Scientific Pathways to Peace of Mind

After a decade and a half of applying medication alternatives to a residential population, made up of people just like you, we have amassed what is likely the most comprehensive and diverse application of holistic mental health care in the world. And the results are what we’ve built our name on. Alternative to Meds Center – home of the alternatives to medication. They exist. Here. Healthy, viable, and noninvasive. The way life should be lived.

You don’t have to be trapped in the cycle of symptoms and side effects.

Many people tell us they have tried everything and that we are their last resort. This is where traditional thinking has it all wrong. We know holistic modalities should be the first line of defense against imbalance. Medications, if needed, should come in last.

The success of our work depends on finding the real reasons why you or someone you care about is symptomatic. We then treat those factors. Identify your medical dependency. Discover the alternative. Find your future.

What Drugs are Prescribed for ADD/ADHD?

Click on the type of prescription stimulant below to learn more. We provide peer-reviewed clinical information about the drugs themselves, as well as resources and FAQs about prescription stimulant dependence, withdrawal, and quitting prescription stimulants safely.

Prescription Stimulants Medication FAQs

Because the active ingredient in prescription stimulant and ADHD medications can vary, it is best to look for your questions for specific types of stimulant medications. However, general questions and queries about the prescription stimulant class of drugs are found below.

Have a question about prescription stimulants we didn’t cover? Contact us and our knowledgeable professionals can answer your questions.

Is ADHD Medication a Stimulant?

There are several medications used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and the majority of them are considered stimulants. Many ADHD medications contain the active ingredients: dextroamphetamine, amphetamine, methylphenidate, and other forms of amphetamines. These chemicals are all considered stimulants. ADHD stimulants have been found to be increasingly used as recreational drugs, both orally, by injection, and intranasally ingested.3

In 2019, Purdue Pharmaceutical (famous for its once blockbuster drug Oxycontin©) gained approval to market methylphenidate as ADHANSIA XR©, the highest-dose form of methylphenidate on the market, that remains active in the body for 16 hours.7

Another drug on the market FDA-approved for ADHD called Strattera© (atomoxetine) is an SNRI, a class of antidepressant medications that are believed to target serotonin and norepinephrine by blocking their re-uptake. This class of drugs is NOT APPROVED FOR PEDIATRIC USE, and includes Effexor©, Cymbalta©, Pristiq© and many others.8,10 As in all the SNRIs, there is a black box warning on Strattera for suicidality in children and adolescents, yet this is the target population for “ADHD” and is the only approved use for the drug. Strattera’s black box label only states that children, adolescents should be monitored closely. Other side effects that are included in the FDA’s label include severe liver damage, sudden death, stroke, heart damage, and too many others to list here. The list is virtually identical to the side effects listed on stimulant ADHD drugs. There are other similar drugs that pharmaceutical companies have come up with as they continue to overload the clinical treatment landscape with ADHD treatment choices like Strattera, based on 4 short trials that lasted from between 6 weeks and the longest, a 10-week trial, and questionable advertising claims.9 

What are the Side Effects of ADHD Stimulant Drugs?

Stimulant drugs create a wide range of reactions which the FDA admits no knowledge or understanding of their mechanics, beyond an assumption of stimulation of the brain cortex. After repeated use, these side effects may increase in intensity. The drug label states that usual doses and even very small doses of ADHD drugs can create severe effects, particularly hallucinations, as well as sudden death, warning that children and adolescents with cardiac issues, agitation or aggressive or other behavioral problems should not take Ritalin or similar stimulant drugs.3  ADHD medication psychiatric side effects are similar to those of cocaine and amphetamines, and can include paranoid ideation, homicidal thoughts and actions, suicidal thoughts and actions, impaired judgment, reduced impulse control, panic, emotional instability, nervousness, restlessness, agitation, suspiciousness, hallucination, delusions, impaired cognitive function, violence, and insomnia. Physical side effects include long-lasting penile erection, seizure, long-term suppression of growth, headache, stomach ache, Raynaud’s Disease (decreased blood flow due to blood vessel spasms in the peripheries such as fingertips, nipples, ears, etc.) and changes in blood pressure.3-5

Other side effects the FDA lists include a life-threatening syndrome called NMS or neuroleptic malignant syndrome, risk of liver damage, hepatic coma, loss of scalp hair, toxic psychosis, Tourette’s syndrome, fever, rash, thrombocytopenic purpura (loss of blood platelets and loss of ability to form blood clots, leading to internal bleeding), anorexia, appetite loss, nausea dizziness, tachycardia, angina, arrhythmia, sexual dysfunction, stroke, heart attack, blurred vision, dry mouth, excessive sweating, and behavior abnormalities. 1,2,3 The ADHANSIA XR version of methylphenidate also lists serotonin syndrome as a side effect risk.7

Is ADHD Medication Addictive?

All stimulant ADHD drugs stimulate the CNS by making dopamine more post-synaptically available. All drugs that share this mechanism of action, which include methamphetamines, amphetamines, cocaine, and similar drugs have a risk for addiction and dependence. ADHD drugs have been classified as Schedule II, meaning they carry a high risk for addiction. Schedule II drugs include fentanyl, cocaine, Adderall, Ritalin, and others with similar liabilities for dependence and addiction.6

Withdrawal effects are a marker of addiction and dependence. Due to neuroplasticity in brain tissue, when you stop taking an ADHD drug, whether it is a stimulant or an SNRI, particularly after long-term use, a kickback creates a shock to the CNS. Withdrawal symptoms can widely vary from person to person, and can include schizophrenic symptoms, mania, depressed state, aggression, sensory disturbances, electric shock sensations (brain zaps) anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, mania, tinnitus, seizures, confusion, priapism, lethargy, and many others. 1-3,7-10

How To Safely Withdraw from ADHD Medications?

There are many methods to help gently withdraw from ADHD medications, even after long-term use. Please visit ADHD Medication Withdrawal, Side Effects, Addiction and Treatment as well as Ritalin Addiction, Withdrawal, Side Effects Treatment pages for more detailed information on this topic. Always seek medical oversight from a trusted health care-giver who is familiar and experienced with drug tapering and withdrawal.

1. FDA label Concerta (methylphenidate HCI) Extended-Release Tablets CII Initial Approval 2000 Revised 01 2017 [Internet] [cited 2022 Jan 26]

2. FDA label Adderall CII (Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate, Dextroamphetamine Sulphate, and Amphetamine Sulfate tablets Approval date unspecified, Revised Jan 2017 [cited 2022 Jan 26]

3. FDA label Ritalin (methylphenidate hydrochloride tablets) and Ritalin SR (methylphenidate hydrochloride sustained release tablets) Approval date unspecified [cited 2022 Jan 26]

4. Ahmann PA, Waltonen SJ, Olson KA, Theye FW, Van Erem AJ, LaPlant RJ. Placebo-controlled evaluation of Ritalin side effects. Pediatrics. 1993 Jun;91(6):1101-6. PMID: 8502509. [cited 2022 Jan 26]

5. Morton WA, Stockton GG. Methylphenidate Abuse and Psychiatric Side EffectsPrim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;2(5):159-164. doi:10.4088/pcc.v02n0502 [cited 2022 Jan 26]

6. DEA, Drug Scheduling [Internet] [cited 2022 Jan 26]

7. FDA label ADHANSIA XR (methylphenidate hydrochloride) extended-release capsules for oral use, CII. Initial Approval 1955, Issued February 2019 [cited 2022 Jan 26]

8. Sansone RA, Sonsone LA Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors: a pharmacological comparison, Innov Clin Neurosci. 2014 Mar 11(3,4) PMID: 24800132,PMCID: PMC4008300 [cited 2022 Jan 27]

9,  FDA label Strattera (atomoxetine hydrochloride) capsules, Approval 2003 [cited 2022 Jan 27]

10.  FDA label Effexor (venlafaxine) Extended-Release capsules Approved 1997 [cited 2022 Jan 27]

Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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