Treatment

Learn about ADHD treatment options

ADHD affects everyone differently. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. In fact, it may take a few tries before a suitable treatment plan is found for you, your child, or your loved one. Work with your healthcare professional to find one that works for you.

Treatment programs may include:

Behavioural therapy

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Behavioural therapy can provide a better understanding of ADHD and how it affects your/your child’s daily life. Therapists help ADHD patients learn how to replace behaviours that don’t work or cause problems, and help develop strategies that can make it easier to finish tasks and get more organized, efficient, and productive. Behavioural therapy can also include parent training to help adults care for children with ADHD.

Parent training

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Adults caring for children with ADHD are shown how to deal with ADHD behaviours. This includes tips on establishing daily routines for the child, as well as how to use both reward systems and proactive disciplinary methods.

Social skills training

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People with ADHD can learn ways to help them relate to other people and improve their interaction with others. In a typical social skills training group, the therapist targets specific social behaviours, provides verbal instructions and demonstrations of the target behaviour, and coaches the participants to role-play the target behaviours with one another.

Education

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Programs and information for patients and their families can help them learn about, and better understand, ADHD. Tutoring and special education programs are available, such as the community program SNAP®. Check out the list of Additional Resources for a list of websites that can offer more information on ADHD. Remember! ADHD is an ongoing condition, and a long-term plan to deal with ADHD is usually needed.

Medication

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Medication may be used as part of a total treatment program for ADHD. It may help patients focus and ignore distractions and improve concentration and impulse control. Although medication does not cure ADHD, it can help manage ADHD symptoms.

Medications can come in different forms and can work for different amounts of time. Some ADHD medications are short-acting and work for shorter time periods during the day, while others are long-acting, meaning they can last during the day and into the evening.

ADHD pharmacological treatments in Canada:

Short-acting

Ritalin®*

  • Comes in tablets to be taken by mouth
  • Available in 2 tablet strengths

Methylphenidate short-acting tablet (generic)

  • Comes in tablets to be taken by mouth
  • Available in 3 tablet strengths

Long-acting

FOQUEST®

  • Capsules should be swallowed whole with a full glass of water
    and must never be crushed or chewed
  • For patients unable to swallow the capsule, the capsule may be opened
    and the entire contents may be sprinkled onto a tablespoon of applesauce,
    ice cream or yogurt
  • Available in 7 capsule strengths

Biphentin®

  • Capsules must be swallowed whole with water or other liquids and never
    crushed or chewed
  • If necessary, the capsule contents may be sprinkled on these soft foods: applesauce, ice cream or yogurt, but the beads must not be chewed or
    crushed
  • Available in 8 capsule strengths

Concerta®*

  • Do not chew, crush, or divide the tablets. Swallow Concerta® tablets whole
    with water or other liquids, such as milk or juices
  • Available in 4 tablet strengths

Ritalin® SR*

  • Tablets must be swallowed whole and never crushed or chewed
  • Available in 1 tablet strength

Methylphenidate long-acting 20 mg tablet (generic)

  • Tablets must be swallowed whole and never crushed or chewed
  • Available in 1 tablet strength

Short-acting

Dexedrine®*

  • Available in 1 tablet strength

Dexedrine® Spansule*

  • Available in 2 tablet strengths

Long-acting

Adderall XR®*

  • Do not crush or chew the capsule or the beads before swallowing
  • Capsule contents can be swallowed whole with water or milk
  • Capsules may be opened and all the beads inside sprinkled on applesauce
    and taken immediately; do not store for later use
  • Available in 6 capsule strengths

Vyvanse®

  • Capsules may be swallowed whole with water
  • Capsules may be opened and the entire contents mixed with yogurt,
    water or orange juice; any compacted powder should be completely
    broken apart with a spoon
  • The entire yogurt or all water or orange juice must be consumed
    immediately and not stored for future use
  • Available in 7 capsule strengths
  • Also available in chewable tablets
  • Chewable tablets must be chewed thoroughly before swallowing
  • A single chewable tablet should not be divided

Long-acting

Strattera®*

  • Capsules must be swallowed whole
  • Available in 7 capsule strengths

Long-acting

Intuniv XR®

  • Tablet must be swallowed whole with a small amount of liquid
  • Tablet should not be crushed, chewed, broken or divided prior to swallowing
  • Available in 4 tablet strengths

*Generic option available.
Adapted from respective Product Monographs.

As with all medication: ADHD medication
is associated with some side effects.

Potential side effects
of ADHD stimulant
medication include:

  • Appetite suppression
  • Decrease in weight
  • Initial insomnia
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Rebound effect
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Tics
  • Blood pressure and heart rate increase
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Dysphoria/irritability
  • Skin reactions

Potential side effects
of non-stimulant ADHD
medication include:

  • Appetite suppression
  • Decrease in weight
  • Initial insomnia
  • Somnolence
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Blood pressure and heart rate increase
  • Blood pressure and heart rate decrease
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dysphoria/irritability
  • Skin reactions