Amphetamines for Adults with ADHD? by Lynn Stanton, M.D.


Medical Director

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition which starts during childhood and can continue into adulthood.   Adults with ADHD display symptoms of inattention (i.e. difficulty focusing or distaste for activities requiring attention) more often than hyperactivity.  According to The American Family Physician, ADHD affects an estimated 4.4 million Americans and has been associated with unemployment, depression, divorce, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.  But are amphetamines an effective treatment for adults with ADHD?

Amphetamines are psychostimulant drugs which affect the central nervous system.  They temporarily alter mental or physical functions or both.   Amphetamines are used to treat conditions such as narcolepsy and ADHD. Studies indicate that amphetamines decreased the severity of ADHD symptoms in adults compared to the placebo. However, amphetamines had a higher drop-out rate than the placebo due to adverse side effects.

Amphetamines have positive and negative effects.  The positive effects include: increased alertness and ability to focus, mood lift, and wakefulness.  Adverse effects include: increased heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, dry mouth, reduced appetite, and headache.  Additionally, amphetamines can be habit-forming and psychologically and physically addictive.

In sum, amphetamines have improved short-term symptoms for adults with ADHD, but the adverse side effects could make long term use challenging for some.

Source: American Family Physician, “Cochrane for Clinicians.” September 2012.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.


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