ADHD Medication and Driving

It is always best to address questions about medication to your child's doctor.
My 16-year-old was diagnosed ADHD in kindergarten. Her physician has prescribed 10 mg of Adderall, to be taken before school. She is currently taking 5 mg in the morning and refuses to increase the dosage. She doesn't want to be "medicated," but has agreed to take the smallest dose.

I am aware that kids with ADHD are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents due to their tendency to be impulsive and their difficulty with focusing. My daughter recently got her learner's permit, and is anxious to get her license. Recently, I read about a sustained release form of medication prescribed for ADHD teens, which could help them stay focused while driving. What can you tell me about the sustained release medications, the usual dosage and side effects? Do you see these medications as having a positive effect on teen drivers?

It is always best to address questions about medication to your daughter's doctor. I can tell you that the sustained release version of Adderall (Adderall XR) comes in dosages of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 mg and lasts about 8-12 hours. Many medications used to treat ADHD have similar side effects, but not all people have the same responses. Some possible side effects can be insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, headache, irritability and stomachache. I can't say that I've seen any studies that specifically addressed use of medications for ADHD for young drivers.

You might check with CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders) to see if there is a branch in your community. You may be able to get some more information from their website or call their toll-free number at 1-800-233-4050.

For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

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