The short answer is no. ADHD medication does not ‘cure’ ADHD.
Many people with ADHD, both diagnosed and self-diagnosed wonder whether ADHD meds will ‘fix’ everything they struggle with.
Whenever I have tweeted about how helpful my meds are on Twitter, I receive tweets like:
“I can’t wait to get diagnosed so I can start meds”
“My meds don’t seem to be working, what meds are you on?”
“I need those meds”
Before I started taking medication for my ADHD, I thought ADHD meds would unlock a certain part of my brain that I never knew existed. Quite silly, I know. Am I the only person that thought this? I doubt it.
ADHD meds help improve some people’s executive functioning skills. For example:
Organization - Doing chores, cleaning, etc.
Planning and Prioritizing - Budgeting, doing taxes on time, etc.
Task initiation - Procrastinating less on the tasks you need to start.
Sustained attention - Being able to focus for a longer period of time with minimal distractions.
People with ADHD are either prescribed stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Vyanese) or non-stimulants (Strattera). However, it takes time for some people to figure out which ADHD medication and dosage work for them.
Stimulants are widely prescribed and are known to be very effective at improving attention and reducing hyperactivity. However, stimulants don’t work/are not suitable for everyone, so people are prescribed non-stimulants as an alternative. It’s also worth mentioning that ADHD medication doesn’t work for some people.
So you can see, starting ADHD medication isn’t always so straightforward. But that’s not a bad thing.
Ineffective ADHD meds
If you’re taking medication and you don’t feel like it’s effective, speak with your Dr. about possibly increasing your dosage or switching meds.
When I first started taking meds about 1 year ago, I knew within the first few weeks that they weren’t effective. How could I tell? Initially, I was taking 5mg immediate-release meds and there were no noticeable differences in my day to day. I then switched to 10mg and then to 20mg. I noticed that I was able to focus, plan, and was less distracted for about 1hr 30mins. Those meds were supposed to last for at least 4hrs. I did some research and spoke with a few people on ADHD twitter and came to the conclusion that extended-release meds would better suit my lifestyle.
My day job is pretty fast-paced, I receive lots of emails, I attend a lot of meetings and do a fair amount of reading. After work, I like to work on my hobbies: writing, drawing and coding. Because of my work pattern and my hobbies, I knew I needed meds that lasted for a longer amount of time than the immediate release meds. I’ve been taking Medikenet (methylphenidate) 30mg extended-release for 2 months now and it has been really effective for me.
When deciding on what ADHD meds to try out, it’s worth considering:
How many hours in a day you would need to have a good handle on the traits you struggle with the most.
What traits you struggle with and whether it’s due to work, school, home life, or anything else.
Whether immediate release meds or extended-release meds would best suit your lifestyle.
Disclaimer: Please discuss medication with your Dr, I am not advocating for Medikinet, it just happens to work for me, for now.
Not taking ADHD medication?
I know there are many of you reading this who unfortunately do not have access to ADHD medication. You might have tried many different coping strategies and still find yourself struggling. I’ve been there and I still don’t have it 100% altogether whilst on meds.
I probably won’t have the answers to all of your questions. But I will be doing a separate newsletter on coping without ADHD medication.
Below is a list of resources I have found helpful whilst adulting with ADHD:
Twitter: Many of the questions I have about ADHD have been directly answered by people on Twitter. Use the hashtag #askADHD for reach.
Facebook: I endlessly scroll through the ADHD for Smart Ass women FB page. People go into a lot more detail when discussing ADHD on FB pages and I usually learn something new. There’s also an ADHD Men’s Support group on FB.
Google - Google is my number 1 go-to when I want to learn more about how an ADHD trait impacts my life. My general rule is to read 3 different articles to broaden my understanding and arrive at my own conclusion.
Podcasts: The ADHD Good Life Podcast, ADHD rewired, Translating ADHD, and ADHD for Smart Ass Women.
Lastly, I was able to better manage my ADHD when I started to break down why I struggled with a certain ADHD trait. Procrastination has been the BANE of my existence. When I procrastinate, I ask myself why. Am I overwhelmed? Is it fear of failure? Am I disinterested? Once I have identified the reason why I break it down until I have arrived at the root cause. Because I’ve applied logic here and the wheels are turning, I almost always end up doing the thing I was procrastinating on in the end. The mental hurdle disappears as I think through why I procrastinated. I explain this in a bit more detail here.
If you’re worried or fed up that you haven’t found ADHD meds that work for you, don’t give up. Many people, like myself, have spent months or even years trying out different dosages/meds until we found the right one.
If you’re not taking ADHD medication, look out for my future newsletter on coping without ADHD medication.
Rach, with ADHD