Drugs for (maybe) ADHD/ADD?

I am looking for resources on medication for ADD. I am searching on Concerta and Aderall, two drug names that my daughter’s pediatrician has named, but the sources do not answer the question I am wondering about:

What problems does it *not *solve?

The little Gas (about to turn 15) has always had issues with schoolwork that requires concentration (which is most of it). To make a long story short we had a psychologist do a lightweight screening test a couple of years ago and the conclusion was that she was weak in “processing” but she said she would not label her as ADHD. We’ve continued to have problems (which I don’t want to take the space to elaborate in detail here but would be happy to discuss if it would further the discourse; these are not general behavioral problems, but specific to academic performance) and we have a meeting tomorrow with the pediatrician which will include discussing medication. Mrs. Gas (née BakingWithElectricity) is at the point where anything is better than nothing and tends to be forever hopeful and believes in Over The Rainbow, but I am forever skeptical and cynical and do not believe in fairies, silver bullets, bending spoons, or miracle drugs.

So I am not necessarily trying to start one of those threads with 100+ posts, just looking for a few reliable resources. But would be happy to get your opinions if you’ve got 'em.

Bonus round: Is ADD genetic? Because I am wondering if I have it, but nobody ever heard of it when I was a kid so I was just “a little more distracted than other kids.”

Well, it helps them to concentrate better, but they still have to want to do the schoolwork in the first place. If they hate school and their classes, it won’t change that. Also be aware that there is a huge market for these drugs in high school; dole them out carefully and count the pills lest temptations take over.

ADD is oftentimes genetic.

Adderall is speed. It solves all problems, whether you have them or not.

Concerta worked well for my daughter for the concentration and hyperactivity. She did much better at schoolwork and was more able to control her frustration. She stopped lashing out at the teacher and other students in class, however that might have been due more to maturation and counseling. The first week she had bad headaches, those went away as she adjusted to the meds. She had a hard time falling asleep at night, which eventually contributed to crankyness and oppositional behavior at home.
We had to switch her to Methylin because our insurance stopped covering Concerta and Methylin is much less expensive. It’s similar to Concerta (as is Ritalin) in composition. She’s sleeping much better, and she’s been much, much less cranky and more willing to ‘get along’ at home, but I’m not yet convinced she’s doing as well at schoolwork as she was on the Concerta.
The meds will help a child pay attention when they are supposed to pay attention provided the child is willing to. They won’t suddenly change your child into a perfect model child. Some behavioral problems may subside, as with my daughter, as her lashing out was from frustration which was directly linked to her inability to concentrate. They won’t make a willful child do what they don’t want to. They most likely won’t help if other learning difficulties or disabilities are the problem.
Have you had your child tested for other learning difficulties like dyslexia or dysphasia? How is she at non-academic tasks like chores and crafts? For example, my daughter had a hard time staying on task for chores, she’d do a little and be off on something else unless someone stood over her and told her each step. Same thing with crafts, someone would have to walk her through each step and keep her from running off to do something else, even if it was a craft she was excited about.
I hope that helps some.

I don’t know how relevant it would be to a true ADHD sufferer, but here’s my experience:

For me, it pretty much got rid of the ADHD-like symptoms. But the thing is, that’s not all that’s wrong. Just like the typical ADHD sufferer, I had had the symptoms for so long that I’d learned coping behaviors. Avoidance is a big one. I’d also missed out on the skill of learning to do something you don’t want to do. That didn’t go away just because I was taking a pill.

What did go away was any inability to think clearly. I was an honor roll student up until my ninth grade year–and that was because I decided then to work on social development, and my scholastics suffered. I got a 32 on my ACT. Heck, I got a 26 on it in seventh grade. Because of the medicine, I was able to learn.

Now I’m older, and my ADHD-like symptoms decreased enough that they no longer felt I had the disorder, and question whether I ever really had it. But I still feel the difference: I am much more forgetful. I lose things, or forget what I’m doing. But everything I learned (rather than just memorized) is still with me.

Book recommendation. “Delivered from distraction”. For adults, too.

OP, if you do decide to try stimulant therapy, ask your Dr about Vyvanse.

This book was life-changing for me! I cried because it was the answer to what was “wrong” with me my whole life. This, plus therapy, and Adderall to use on an as-needed basis have combined to make my life much better.

I’ve read studies that have found that people with a diagnosis of ADHD have structural differences in their brains. I think it’s a spectrum of symptoms/brain differences, and it can be genetic.

My father, myself, and my two sisters all have a diagnosis and my sisters and I have tried medications. I was on Ritalin as a child and it didn’t help me academically, but my issues with school were less due to problems concentrating and more the fault of my depression and general bad attitude. My sisters have both been on Adderall and found it very helpful for living their lives in general. I’m going to start the process of getting re-diagnosed and trying Adderall very soon.

Adderall is a stimulant and the regular pills are easy to abuse (and can be sold for a nice profit!). However, sustained-released Adderall XR is more difficult to abuse, so if you’re worried about those aspects that I would recommend it.

We met with the doctor today for about 45 minutes. Conclusion was to start her on Concerta, with us providing weekly assessments to the doctor. The dosage starts out small then gets tuned. The frequent feedback loop combined with the fact that the doctor started out in her practice opposed to this type of medication were somewhat mitigating factors for me. The doctor felt that my daughter’s behavior supports a diagnosis of ADD, and she added that monitoring the response to medication is part of the diagnostic process.

So we’ll try it and it will be week to week.

As a long time ADHD sufferer (diagnosed back in 83 or so) I tell you there absolutely ARE magic pills! Without my Concerta, I can barely concentrate enough to read the SDMB. With Concerta, the static in my brain goes away, I can hold a train of thought and I can work.

All joking aside, I believe that we only now are starting to see one of the unintended results of the “Strattera/Concerta/Adderall generation” of kids in their 20s: speed addiction. I personally know of two such cases.

I got a prescription for Adderall in college, and I took the drug regularly for a year, year and a half. All in all, I found Adderall very useful in helping me to manage my ADD. Personally, the best way to take the drug was to pop one or two pills *after *forcing myself to begin some particularly long, boring, tedious, or concentration-intensive task. Forcing myself to begin first, however, was very important; if I just took my legal methamphetamine and waited for the drug to kick in I could waste hours—entire nights—goofing around. After all, whatever else it is, Adderall is a performance enhancing drug, which means it enhances one’s ability to waste time. After I figured out how to take the drug, though, things worked out very well for me. I’m glad I took it, and if I still had my old insurance plan I’d still be using this drug.

There are, however, some negative side effects to Adderall. I often found myself dealing with headaches and a terribly dry mouth, probably because if you take too much of this drug it is easy to forget to eat and drink. Also, it is very easy to abuse this drug, and it definitely has an addictive potential. While I had little difficulty after my last prescription ran out in terms of withdrawal, I did have difficulties resuming certain activities that I had come to associate with Adderall–mostly tasks related to writing.

I don’t know your child, but as a teen with ADD who grew up into an adult with a ADD and an Adderall prescription, here’s what I’d like to say to you: consider this drug, but also consider its alternatives. Let your child experiment with this drug if your doctor advises it, but watch her closely and make sure your physician and/or therapist does as well. And if your child has an addictive personality or is at all untrustworthy (be honest with yourself here, please) don’t give her access to this medication. It can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be easily abused and addictive.

To what extent Concerta is similar to Adderall, I don’t know. I would be interested in learning more about this drug (I’ll research that myself), and what you and your daughter think about it.

Yes, ADD is definitely hereditary.

Also let me echo the recommendations above for the book Driven to Distraction.

If you have any specific questions for an adult with ADD who has taken Adderall, I will be glad to answer them.

I am licensed to provide people with medical and psychological advise absolutely nowhere in the world.

Anyway, good luck CookingWithGas.