What are the 2 major drugs used in ADHD?

What are the 2 major drugs used in ADHD?

30 Sec Answer: The two major drugs used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamines (Adderall), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. Non-stimulant medications, such as atomoxetine (Strattera), bupropion (Wellbutrin), and clonidine (Kapvay) may also be used to treat symptoms associated with the disorder.

Overview of ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by difficulty concentrating on tasks, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and disorganization. It is estimated that about 5% of adults and 10% of children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD. While there is no cure for this condition, medication can help manage symptoms. The two major types of medications used to treat ADHD are stimulants and non-stimulants.

What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that increase alertness, concentration, and energy levels while decreasing fatigue. They work by stimulating the central nervous system, resulting in increased dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Stimulants are typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Commonly prescribed stimulants include methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamines (Adderall), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), modafinil (Provigil), armodafinil (Nuvigil), pemoline (Cylert), and dexmethylphenidate (Focalin).

How Do Stimulants Work?

Stimulants act on specific parts of the brain to help people focus their thoughts and pay better attention to tasks at hand. This type of medication works by increasing levels of certain chemicals in the brain, which helps regulate behavior, thinking, emotions, and movement. The main action of stimulant medications is thought to be primarily through the blockade of dopamine transporters; this reduces reuptake of dopamine from synapses leading to increased synaptic concentrations in various areas of the brain including prefrontal cortex regions responsible for executive functions like planning, organizing, working memory, impulse control, etc.

Side Effects Of Stimulants

Although generally well tolerated, some common side effects associated with stimulant use include insomnia, decreased appetite, nausea/vomiting, anxiety/irritability, headaches, stomach aches, tics or twitches. Other more serious side effects can occur but they are rarer than the milder side effects mentioned above. Some serious side effects may include: rapid heart rate or palpitations; abnormal blood pressure readings; sudden mood swings; agitation; psychosis; seizures; skin rash or hives; jaundice; priapism; liver failure; mania/hypomania; suicidal thoughts/behavior; hallucinations; delirium tremens; cardiac arrhythmia/myocardial infarction; stroke or death due to cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease caused by long-term abuse of high doses of stimulant drugs.

What Are Non-Stimulants?

Non-stimulant medications are those that do not contain any form of an amphetamine or methylphenidate compound and therefore do not directly increase dopamine activity within the brain like stimulant medications do. These medications usually affect other neurotransmitters such as serotonin or norepinephrine instead. Non-stimulant medications for ADHD include atomoxetine (Strattera), bupropion (Wellbutrin), guanfacine extended release tablets (Intuniv ER) and clonidine extended release tablets (Kapvay ER). Non-stimulant medications may take longer to become effective than stimulant medications but they tend to have fewer short term side effects as well as lower risk for abuse or misuse.

How Do Non-Stimulants Work?

Non-stimulant medications work by targeting different pathways in the body than those affected by stimulant medications. Atomoxetine is believed to work primarily through modulation of serotonergic systems in order to improve concentration and impulse control while bupropion has both dopaminergic as well as noradrenergic properties that appear helpful in improving cognition and behavior in ADHD patients without overstimulating them as stimulant drugs might do. Guanfacine extended release tablets work similarly to clonidine by binding receptors located in regions known to play a role in controlling impulses along with hyperactivity whereas clonidine specifically targets alpha2A adrenergic receptor sites which results in reduced sympathetic activity and improved focus among individuals with ADHD.

Side Effects Of Non-Stimulants

The most common side effects experienced when taking non-stimulant medications include fatigue/drowsiness, dry mouth/nausea/diarrhea/constipation, headache/stomachache/back pain/muscle cramps/weight loss/insomnia/mood changes/increased appetite/growth retardation if taken for long periods during childhood development years/. Other less frequent but more serious side effects may include: allergic reactions such as itching/rash/difficulty breathing/, aggression or irritability/, vision problems/, high blood pressure/, impaired judgment/, depression/, suicidal thoughts/. Rarely life threatening conditions such as liver damage have been reported however it’s important to note that these cases are rare occurrences with only 1 out 1000 patients experiencing it after taking atomoxetine for instance.


Both stimulant and non-stimulant medications can be used effectively to manage symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Stimulants have been found to be very successful at treating short term symptoms however their potential for abuse means that they should be closely monitored when taken for prolonged periods of time especially during childhood development years where growth suppression could result from their usage. On the other hand non-stimulant medications provide a viable alternative when managing longer term symptom management due their lack of potential for abuse although their efficacy remains slightly lower compared with that seen with stimulants overall due to slower onset timescales required for them to become effective plus higher rates of adverse events experienced when taking them versus comparator placebo agents.

Hayden Russell

Hayden Russell is a writer and editor at The-Engine.net, where he covers a wide range of topics including technology, business, and culture. With a background in journalism and a passion for storytelling, Hayden brings a unique perspective to his writing and is always on the lookout for interesting and thought-provoking stories. When he's not working, Hayden can be found exploring the outdoors or tinkering with his latest tech project.

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