Add-on. Concerta, Strattera, Ritalin, and Vyvanse. It might be overwhelming to choose the best treatment option due to the plethora of ADHD drug options available. Here, an expert on ADHD provides clear explanations of stimulants and non-stimulants for both adults and kids.

Which ADHD Medication Therapies Are the Best?

At best, there are an overwhelming amount of drugs available to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and choosing the right drug for you or your child—or whether to medicate at all—requires a very personal decision.

Stimulants, which are thought to be the initial line of treatment for ADHD, are the general term for the ADHD drugs that are provided to adults and children (as early as age 6). This group includes variants of amphetamines as well as methylphenidate, the most often used medication for ADHD.

Up to 30% of patients do not respond to stimulants, hence non-stimulants are administered to those who cannot handle or benefit from stimulant drugs. The four non-stimulants atomoxetine, guanfacine, viloxazine, and clonidine are licensed to treat ADHD. In order to address symptoms that stimulants are unable to relieve, non-stimulants may sometimes be prescribed in addition to stimulants.

The following, listed alphabetically, are the most often prescribed ADHD drugs among ADDitude readers:

 (Amphetamine) Adderall XR

 (Methylphenidate) concerta

 (Amphetamine), Dexedrine

 (The amphetamine) Evekeo

 (Dexmethylphenidate) Focalin XR

 (Methylphenidate), Quillivant XR

 (Methylene), Ritalin

 (Atomoxetine hydrochloride), Strattera

Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, or vyvanse

Dexmethylphenidate and serdex methylphenidate are known as Azstarys.

The differences and similarities between these and other ADHD treatment options continue to baffle a lot of parents and adults with the disorder. The most common stimulants and non-stimulants used to treat ADHD are side by side compared in our ADHD medication chart.

Which Newest ADHD Drugs Are Available?

In 2021 and 2022, respectively, Qelbree, a non-stimulant, was licensed for the treatment of ADHD in children and adults.

In 2021, Azstarys, a once-daily central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, was given approval to treat ADHD in patients six years of age or older.

When Jornay PM is taken in the evening, it starts to take effect as soon as the patient wakes up and continues to do so throughout the day.

The FDA gave Xelstrym approval in March 2022. This transdermal amphetamine patch is used once daily to treat people with ADHD and children six years of age and up.

How Is ADHD Treated Using Stimulant Drugs?

A lack of a certain neurotransmitter, or a combination of neurotransmitters, in particular brain regions causes ADHD, a neurological condition. Chemicals called neurotransmitters act as a bridge, or synapse, between nerve cells to transfer signals between them.3.

Together with its constituent neurotransmitters, dopa and dopamine, norepinephrine is a crucial neurotransmitter that is frequently lacking in people with ADHD. The main stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD should theoretically increase the production of this neurotransmitter deficit by stimulating particular brain cells. Though it's unclear exactly how these drugs reduce ADHD symptoms, that's why they are regarded as stimulants.

Since the 1930s, two primary kinds of stimulant drugs have been in use: methylphenidate and dextro-amphetamine, both of which are generic names.4 All name-brand stimulants are essentially these two drugs. For example, dextro-amphetamine is modified in the ADHD drug Adderall. On the other hand, methylphenidate is available in a variety of forms, each with its own name, such as a skin patch, liquid, and chewable tablet.

How Do ADHD Treatment Non Stimulants Work?

Theoretically, the selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) atomoxetine (brand name Strattera) and viloxazine (brand name Qelbree) function by raising norepinephrine and dopamine concentrations in the prefrontal cortex, which is thought to regulate behavior and alleviate symptoms of ADHD.

Alpha2-agonists include guanfacine (Intuniv) and clonidine (Kapvay). Most people believe that these drugs function by imitating norepinephrine's effects on the receptors in the prefrontal cortex.

Despite not being licensed for the treatment of ADHD, doctors frequently prescribe the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) off-label.

How Should ADHD Medication Be Taken?

Among other regulations, the FDA mandates that medicine labels follow its

Dosage Form and Administration Route: tablet, liquid, patch, capsule, etc. The amount of medication in each unit of liquid—for instance, 5 milligrams per 5 milliliters of liquid—is listed on the patient information leaflet that is enclosed in the medication's box or container. Daytrana is another medicine that contains methylphenidate; it is a patch that delivers the drug into the bloodstream through the skin. Methylphenidate (30 mg) in Daytrana 30 mg is released at a rate of approximately 3.3 mg per hour.

The precise amount of medication released into the blood over a predetermined amount of time is known as the dose quantity or strength. Stated differently, the numerical value assigned to each product denotes the total amount of medication included in the pill, liquid, capsule, or patch—rather than the amount present in the blood at any given time. For example, methylphenidate 5mg is the name given to methylphenidate that releases 5 mg over the course of four hours in tablet form. Conversely, Adderall XR 20 is a capsule that releases 10 mg of Adderall instantly and another 10 mg four hours later..

What Adverse Reactions Are Caused by ADHD Medication?

In general, stimulant drugs have the following adverse effects:

 diminished hunger

 stomach ache

 disruptions to sleep


 Among the adverse consequences linked to non-stimulants are:


 stomach ache

 diminished hunger


When using and altering stimulant drugs, adverse effects are frequently experienced by patients. If the patient does not experience any advantages and the side effects are manageable, doctors may begin with lower doses and gradually raise the dosage. A lot of adverse effects also pass quickly if the patient gets used to them. To get the most benefit with manageable side effects, doctors should titrate the dosage of ADHD medication, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).Six

The therapist may choose to switch to a non-stimulant or another stimulant if negative reactions continue.