ADHD Treatment: Are Stimulants Dangerous?

I have ADHD, was diagnosed as an adult, have a kid with ADHD, and as a psychologist, roughly 98% of my caseload are people who have ADHD. My experiences are both in the assessment of ADHD and providing counseling for people of all ages. 

I take Vyvanse to help manage my symptoms. That being said, I cannot prescribe medication and cannot advise people on medication use. The following statements are associated with my own research and training as a psychologist as well as experiences with my prescriber who checks in with me about symptom management of ADHD and efficacy of medication.

Managing ADHD Symptoms

Some people ask their PCP (primary care physician) about using Vyvanse to help treat symptoms of ADHD. If your PCP seems significantly concerned about addiction, heart issues, and expresses how adults do not need them to manage symptoms of ADHD, you might ask about contemporary research to support their statements. You can specifically ask about research associated with the addiction properties of Vyvanse versus other medications used to treat symptoms of ADHD. You can also ask about recent research that demonstrated a direct correlation between the use of Vyvanse and causing heart issues.

How ADHD Medications Work and Associated Risks

Did you know Vyvanse does not start off as the active ingredient that treats ADHD symptoms? It is a prodrug and needs to pass through the gastrointestinal tract to become the active ingredient. It is less likely to be abused through injecting or snorting for that reason. (Any drug can be addictive if it is misused.)

There are cardiovascular risks indicated. If for some reason, you might have pre-existing issues associated with blood pressure, have a history of a high heart rate, have a pre-existing heart condition, etc., then this would’ve been likely communicated to you as the reason it might not be the best choice of medication for you.

Diagnosing ADHD in Adults

Prior to 2013, ADHD could only be diagnosed up to 18 years of age. It was considered a condition of early childhood. It was believed people grew out of the symptoms as adults. As of 2013, with the DSM 5, ADHD is recognized as occurring throughout development into adulthood. Some adults who had been previously diagnosed with anxiety or depression are now wondering if they have ADHD. If symptoms of ADHD seem to resonate with you, and there is a pattern of these symptoms you or others have recognized throughout your development, you may want to consider being evaluated for ADHD. Mood states, such as anxiety and depression, are temporary. Symptoms of ADHD are noticeable throughout development and persist into adulthood, although the extent of the symptoms and how they present may be different over time and situations.

How to Treat Your ADHD

Some PCPs are family physicians, meaning they regularly treat people of all ages, as opposed to just working with adults. Some might also specialize in ADHD. If you were having difficulties discussing the use of stimulants to manage your symptoms of ADHD, you may want to look for another prescriber and consider people who work with younger children as well as adults and ask or check if they specialize in ADHD. 

Resource link re: Vyvanse: