Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity.

Often, certain kinds of medications called stimulants are used to treat ADHD. These medicines are designed to help people with ADHD focus better and to be less distracted.

Stimulant medications, like amphetamines and methylphenidate, have a calming effect on people because they increase the level of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Other non-stimulant medications are also used for ADHD and work to treat ADHD by acting on other receptors in the brain.

All ADHD medications require a prescription for use. It’s important to remember that sharing ADHD medication with someone else can cause the person harm. Prescribers evaluate a person’s current medical history and past medical conditions before they prescribe a medication.

Examples of ADHD Medications:

Stimulants  Non-Stimulants  
Generic Names Brand Names Generic Names Brand Names
Amphetamine Salts Adderall®  Atomoxetine  Strattera®
Dexmethylphenidate Focalin®  Clonidine  Catapres®
Lisdexamphetamine Vyvanse®  Guanfacine  Intuniv®
Methylphenidate Concerta®

What can happen when these medications are taken inappropriately?

Taking more of these medications than directed can have several negative consequences, including:

  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • excessive sleepiness
  • seizures
  • life-threatening changes in blood pressure and heart rate
  • addiction
  • death

How can misuse of ADHD medications be prevented?

If you’re taking a medication for ADHD, these steps can help prevent a medication poisoning:

  • Always follow the dosing directions prescribed by your doctor.
  • Don’t share your medication with others. Some drug interactions can be life threatening.
  • Make sure all medications are out of the reach of all of the children living in or visiting your home.
  • Be very careful with the scheduled dosing administration to minors in the mornings, especially if there are two caregivers involved.

Call Carolinas Poison Center, your doctor, or your pharmacy if you have questions about ADHD medications or possible drug interactions with other medications. You don’t have to wait for a problem to arise before calling Carolinas Poison Center. You can call with questions, too.

What should you do if you or someone you know has taken ADHD medications incorrectly?

If the person is not breathing or not responsive, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, you can call Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for medication assistance from our specially trained nurses and pharmacists 24 hours a day.

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