ADD/ADHD Drug Guide – Part 2

In last week’s article, I began the discussion about the different types of drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder with the group of stimulants known as Methylphenadates (Ritalin, Metadate, Focalin, and Methlyn).  This week we continue to look at stimulants known as Dextroamphetamines and Mixed Amphetamines.  By the way, if the names of these drugs seem overwhelming or a bit scary to you, they should!  Remember, we are looking at drugs that are controlled by the government because of the potential for serious side effects and abuse.  These can be VERY dangerous and you must learn all you can before allowing yourself or your child to take them!


Dextroamphetamines include the drugs Dexedrine and Dextrostat.  These are short acting drugs that have an onset in about 30 to 60 minutes.  They last about four to five hours.  What’s different about these from other stimulants if that they have been approved for children under the age of six and reportedly have a good safety record.  Common side effects include insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, headache, irritability, and stomachache.  There is also a really good chance of rebound agitation or exaggeration of pre-medication symptoms as it wears off.

As you worry about these drugs and whether taking them is good for you or your child, you should know that these drugs seem to have a high risk for abuse.  So if there is a history of any sort of substance abuse, you may not want to consider using these medications.  A longer lasting form of the medicine is called Dexedrine Spansule which can last for five to ten hours.  This form is particularly good for kids who cannot remember to take a second dose of their medicines at lunchtime!

Mixed Amphetamines is the last group of stimulant medications that include Adderall and Adderall XR.  The first is a short acting drug with an onset of 30 to 60 minutes and a duration of 4 to 5 hours.  Adderall XR has an onset of 60 to 90 minutes and has a duration of 10 to 12 hours.  Both are said to wear off more gradually so there is less chance of the rebound effect, and if it does occur, the rebound is mild.  Yet the side effects are the same as other stimulants.

Aside from whatever your feelings and opinions are about taking drugs to treat Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms, you simply cannot ignore the many side effects that can occur.  Next week, I am going to delve into those effects of stimulants much more thoroughly.  With that information, you can make an informed decision as to whether you want these substances in your body of that of your child.

There are plenty of testimonials from individuals who have said that drugs helped tremendously.  BUT – there are just as many testimonials from others who will tell you that one of these drugs caused havoc in their lives.  For stimulants, the major complaints are about severe anxiety and agitation.  For those of you whose normal temperament might be described as “high strung,” you may find that adding a stimulant to your body’s chemistry will cause your agitation over the edge.  Along with agitation and anxiety, many have reported a lot of sleep disturbance that in turn can significantly affect your personality and moods.  For many, the resulting side effects far outweigh any of the benefits that are promised.

So again, before you chose pharmacology as your first line of treatment, do your homework.  And when you are done, do some more and make sure you are 100% comfortable with what you are considering taking or giving your child.  If you have had experiences with these drugs and would like to share them here, I welcome all of your comments!