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New ADHD Medications for Children and Adults

Updated on March 12, 2011

Treating attention deficit disorders in children and adults has long been a controversial subject. Treatment options have been limited for a number of years, and previous medications were not only addictive, but also included a number of potentially dangerous side effects. Stimulants have long been used to treat ADD and ADHD in adults, but many doctors were hesitant to prescribe these medications for children, often because of the danger involved. In either case, weighing the benefits of medications and their side effects with the actual symptoms of the disorder was a common practice, and medications were only prescribed in some of the most severe cases.

Tricyclic anti-depressants became a common alternative form of treatment in adults, and occasionally in children. However, it was later discovered that these types of anti-depressants could increase the risk of suicide in adolescents, teens, and even young adults, adding to a feeling of desperation among health care professionals about the lack of effective treatment options for people with ADHD.

Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin were once the only ADHD medication options used. However, after 15-20 years of prescribing these kinds of drugs, it became obvious to many mental health experts that these drugs often did more damage than good. Medications were not cost-effective for many people, even those whose insurance plans covered the majority of the cost of prescriptions, and the medications included sometimes detrimental side effects. The biggest drawback, however, of these types of stimulant drugs was their addictive nature and the potential for abuse.

Today, pharmaceutical companies have responded to the need for new ADD and ADHD medications for both children and adults with safer, less-addictive alternatives. However, the long-term effects of these new medications are still not known. These medications also include a number of side effects, and are still recommended for use only in the most severe cases. Three new drugs that are now being widely prescribed in both adults and children with ADHD are Straterra, Vyvanse, and Intuniv.

Strattera has been on the U.S. market since 2004, but Vyvanse and Intuniv are newer additions to the family of ADHD treatment solutions. While all of these new ADHD medications offer improved treatment outcomes for patients with attention deficit disorders, they are still stimulants. This means that there is still the potential for addiction and abuse, so it is important that patients keep all of their appointments with health care providers so that that drug levels can be monitored.

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