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Is Ritalin - Concerta - Adderall and other Medications for ADHD Good Treatment or is there a Risk for Abuse?

Abstract: What are the effects of psychostimulants in the pharmacotherapy of ADHD?

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Is Ritalin - Concerta - Adderall and other Medications for ADHD Good Treatment or is there a Risk for Abuse?

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 25 Jul 2008.

Is Ritalin/Concerta/Adderall and other medications for ADHD good treatment or is there a risk for abuse?


Targets of Psychostimulant Pharmacotherapy

Psychostimulants like Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall) are known for treating "hyperactivity". However, this is only one symptom of ADHD that can be altered by this medication. In a multimodal treatment approach of ADHD stimulants positively affect not only the core symptoms of ADHD (hyperactivity, attention deficits and impulsivity) but proved to have lasting effects on:

  • Specific cognitive functions of learning, working memory and other attention functions.
  • Improved social functioning with better peer interactions, more friends and prosocial behaviours.
  • Better classroom behaviour and academic functioning with reduction of off-task behaviour, disruptive behaviour and following directions of the teachers.
  • Relationships with the parents and siblings improves. Fewer anger outbursts or off-task behaviour.
  • Mood improvement with less aggressive and disruptive behaviours.

This can have a big influence on the development of self-esteem and social interaction. While children with ADHD have a higher risk for substance abuse or addiction the treatment with psychostimulants prevents this bad outcome for them.

For children with additional Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder psychostimulants proved to have a benefit as well. Aggression, lying, stealing or other conflicts with the law are influenced. Usually these kids are less prone to severe accidents if they are treated with psychostimulants within a good medical and psychosocial setting.

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