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What happens when you quit ADHD medications?

What happens when you quit ADHD medications?

When Dana Rayburn found out ADHD When he was 40, the doctor prescribed Adderall. He took the drug well for a few years, but then insurance he stopped covering. Instead of making an effort to pay $ 200 a month for the medication, he decided to try to get out of it.

For other adults ADHD, side effects such as hunger suppression or lack of sleep encourage you to quit medication. Some say that drugs make them less fun and spontaneous. Others don’t like the stigma that often exists medications or just like the idea of ​​handling their condition in a natural way, without the help of medication.

Whatever your motivation, before you try to get rid of medications, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first and get a good idea of ​​what to expect.

Talk to your doctor

Whenever you want to make changes to your medication regimen, it is best to include your doctor. If your supplier agrees that stopping is okay, you should discuss whether it is safe to go for cold turkey or whether you should reduce it.


The answer depends on the medications you take, says L. Eugene Arnold, MD, a resident expert at CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder). You don’t have to cut down on stimulant medications like that Adderall and Ritalin, he explains, and you shouldn’t have any setbacks.

Non-stimulant medications, on the other hand, need to be reduced. “Atomoxetine (Strattera) has a half-life, so it reduces itself, “says Arnold. But if you take an alpha 2 antagonist, e.g. clonidine or guanfacine – Many people with ADHD take an incentive in the morning and one of these other drugs at night – you need to go slow to avoid a point where you may be at risk blood pressure, he warned.

Expect temporary physical changes

Arnold says whether you will feel physically different depends on your medication, your dose, and your body chemistry. He says some patients who stop taking stimulant drugs give a little more fatigue during the day. Of course, they can sleep deeper at night. Some feel terribly hungry.

Changes in energy and focus are equalized after a day or two. But hunger can take a few weeks to return to normal. Of course, “if you were overly hungry before [starting ADHD drugs that were suppressing it], it will be sustainable, ”Arnold says.

It may not work for you either

Unless your diagnosis is wrong, you get it ADHD medications for a reason. Will you be able to continue the task and complete projects without the help of these drugs?

Fortunately for Rayburn, drug-free approaches – including organizational strategies, fish oil supplements (some research suggests they may help with ADHD) and being hydrated did the trick. She has been in need of ADHD drugs for 16 years. But Rayburn, who trains other adults with ADHD, is hardly an anti-medication medication. In fact, most adults with ADHD say they do their best with medications, at least at some point in their lives.

Rayburn advises anyone considering quitting medication to first think about why they were taking the drug and what might have changed since then. Have you adopted specific organizational strategies, significantly revamped your lifestyle habits (e.g. exercise and diet), or have you made other changes that will help you stay on task?

Take care and act accordingly

“If you are taking medication, you need to be very conscious and when you notice it your brain it doesn’t work and it’s able to adapt, ”says Rayburn. Some people say they may get caught up in attention, but they do well when they re-adopt strategies that helped keep them on track in the past. by hand ADHD therapy, Says Arnold. Some believe that taking a fish oil supplement helps. “It’s a subtle effect, but it takes some advantage,” he says.


Of course, some adults with ADHD who discontinue medication notice that they need to go back to function properly – and that’s okay, too. “It’s a good idea to hire another observer (spouse, roommate, or coach) who can give an objective opinion about what’s going on,” Arnold says. And if you take the medication again, don’t think that you can stop the non-medicinal therapies you are using.

“Anti-ADHD medications are not cures; it’s a tool, ”says Arnold. “It makes things possible but they are not necessarily easy. You still have to work on that. “

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