What To Consider About Prescription Medication for ADHD

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Note: The following article mentions medication and supplements. The below information is intended for informational purposes and does not replace medical advice or diagnosis from a licensed professional. Do not start, change, or stop a medication without speaking to your doctor. 

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause various symptoms that may be challenging to manage without accommodation. For that reason, a few medical treatments are available to help individuals cope with daily life. If you believe you may be living with ADHD, talking to a doctor about diagnosis and treatment can be vital. Several medications are used to treat ADHD, and doctors may also point clients toward therapy.

Therapy can also help you manage ADHD

Stimulant ADHD medications

When choosing a medication for your child or yourself, your doctor may consider stimulant and non-stimulant prescription medications. While both kinds of medication are commonly prescribed to reduce symptoms of ADHD, the drugs that work for you may depend on your medical history, ADHD presentation type, and a variety of other factors. Your doctor can provide information about the most common side effects of non-stimulant and stimulant medicines, which could include increases in blood pressure and heart rate, stomach pain, dry mouth, and appetite suppression. Though some ADHD medications were once linked to cardiac events and sudden death, recent studies suggest that these drugs may not increase the risk of such adverse effects.    

Stimulant class medication is often the first line of medication for children and some adults with ADHD. This type of medication has been estimated to function for around 70% of all children with the condition. 

Stimulants for ADHD increase the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain. Stimulant meds are known to work quickly and may help individuals focus and manage hyperactivity. There are many stimulant medications on the market. Your doctor can work with you to consider the best options for you. 

Stimulants are often used for children but can also be used for adults. The medication may reduce impulsive behaviors in adults, allowing focus on essential tasks. However, medication may not work the same for everyone. Some people don’t experience benefits when taking stimulant medications.

At times, individuals in the same family may experience different results from the same medications. Finding the proper treatment can take trial and error, so working with a doctor is essential. A healthcare professional can review the risks of not only adverse effects but also misuse. Stimulant medications are being used recreationally at high rates, particularly among young adults. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stimulant ADHD medications are one of the most frequently misused types of medicine

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

Non-stimulant medications

When an individual is unable to tolerate stimulants, or when a doctor does not want to start with stimulants, they may try non-stimulant ADHD medications. Non-stimulant medication can lead to a greater ability to focus, improved memory, and fewer impulsive outbursts. However, these medications may take longer to reach maximum effectiveness. 

Predicting which medication may work best for each person can be challenging. Factors like gender, height, and weight might not be the only variables in determining the best dose. Doctors may experiment and observe over time. In addition, clients may be referred to a therapist to discuss mental health challenges associated with ADHD symptoms. 

Non-stimulant ADHD medications include drugs developed specifically to treat ADHD symptoms, such as atomoxetine, and off-label medicines that are primarily prescribed to treat other conditions, like high blood pressure. 

Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in individuals with ADHD, who are thought to experience deficiencies in it. Recommended by organizations like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, atomoxetine is an SNRI that can be prescribed to children ages 6-12, adolescents, and adults. Research suggests that atomoxetine can significantly reduce the cognitive challenges associated with ADHD. Recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD, viloxazine is another SNRI that can improve the core symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. Adverse effects may include irritability, anxiety, appetite changes, and dizziness. 

Blood pressure medication

Medications used to lower high blood pressure, such as alpha agonists, are often prescribed off-label—meaning they are prescribed for a purpose other than their intended use—to treat ADHD. Approved by the FDA to treat ADHD in children, alpha agonists like clonidine have been proven to reduce impulsive behavior, distractibility, and hyperactivity. Adverse effects may include reduced blood pressure, dizziness, sleepiness, and dry mouth. 


Typically used to treat depressive symptoms, certain antidepressants have also been shown to reduce the hyperactive and impulsive symptoms of ADHD. Antidepressant medications that can improve ADHD symptoms include tricyclic antidepressants; selegiline, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI); and bupropion. Adverse effects may include stomach pain, low blood pressure, headache, and fatigue. 

Can homeopathic remedies be used to treat ADHD?

Determining which remedies work for you or your family may take time. Depending on your biology, some remedies may prove more valuable than others. Some people with ADHD may try homeopathic remedies as an alternative to non-stimulant medications. However, note that many homeopathic remedies have not been controlled or approved by the FDA to treat ADHD, so discuss any supplement or medication with your doctor before treatment. Below are some of the most common at-home remedies for ADHD. 



Synaptol is a popular homeopathic remedy for ADHD. This supplement is a liquid specially formulated for treating ADHD in adults and children above the age of two. The liquid is made from sweet violet, green oat grass, skullcap, and other herbs. This supplement is gluten-free and may reduce ADHD symptom severity. 

No clinical studies have been performed on Synaptol, so the evidence for this remedy is anecdotal. Take caution and discuss the safety of the ingredients with your doctor. 

Coffea cruda

A remedy for ADHD symptoms called Coffea cruda has been tested, with positive results in improving insomnia. Coffea cruda is made from unroasted coffee beans and seems to have the opposite effect of caffeine for most people. Some people with ADHD who drink this form of coffee may experience relaxation and a focused mind. However, as studies of this type of coffee are focused on other conditions, it may not treat ADHD symptoms. If your ADHD is associated with insomnia, you might benefit from trying this remedy alongside the guidance of a medical practitioner.

Verat alb

Verat alb is a homeopathic remedy that can be used to soothe nerves. Some people with ADHD use this herb in small doses to achieve results. However, it can be dangerous in large doses and without guidance. There is no current evidence that this treatment is safer or better than medicine. Like other homeopathic remedies, the evidence for the usefulness of verat alb is anecdotal.

Other supplements and ingredients 

Some people use common substances or ingredients to counter their ADHD symptoms. For example, some may drink high levels of caffeine to regain their focus. Others might turn to natural herbs like Gingko Biloba to attempt to boost memory retention. These might be helpful in the short term but may not be effective in the long term. 

Before trying supplements, take the advice of your doctor. Using homeopathic remedies to help manage your condition may seem appealing, but the results may be more unpredictable than expected. These remedies have still not proven as successful as traditional medications. Conversely, both stimulant and non-stimulant medications for ADHD have proven successful in clinical studies.

However, if you’re not interested in medication, ADHD symptoms may be managed through non-medical treatment like therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven successful in treating ADHD, with some studies indicating more success with therapeutic intervention than medical intervention.

Therapy can also help you manage ADHD
Other treatment options for ADHD 

Some people with ADHD may hesitate to seek support in person due to difficulty keeping appointments, or other barriers. In these cases, online therapy through platforms like BetterHelp may be beneficial. 

Online therapy is often more convenient. It allows you to seek out help on your terms and schedule. Unlike traditional therapy, online therapy is available from home on a flexible schedule. In addition, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions, according to your needs. 

Studies show that some people with ADHD may remain on a waitlist when seeking in-person treatment. In a situation like this, researchers conclude that online therapy is a more effective alternative


Several treatments are available for individuals with ADHD, including non-stimulant medications and supplements. However, consult a doctor before using any ingestible or medical treatment for ADHD, as some may be unsafe. In addition, consider using therapy in conjunction with medical treatments or as a sole treatment. You can reach out to a therapist online or in your area at any time to get started.


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