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reviewed 7/20/2018

Treating ADHD: Myth or fact?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects how a person behaves, focuses and learns. When you think about treatments for ADHD, you may think of newsworthy products like Ritalin. But what's the real deal when it comes to medication and therapy for ADHD? Take this quiz to test what you know—and maybe learn something new.

Myth or fact: The only medication doctors prescribe for ADHD are stimulants like Ritalin.

Myth. Even though stimulants are the best-tested and most-used medication for treating ADHD, some non-stimulant options can be used for children who have both ADHD and another tic or disorder. Some non-stimulants may be worth trying first if a parent is worried about how their child will react to a stimulant.

Myth or fact: Stimulants are dangerous.

Myth. For most people, stimulants are a safe way to treat ADHD. These medications help those with ADHD to focus their thoughts and not be distracted. Most side effects are mild and don't last long. In fact, research shows that 80 percent of children with ADHD who use stimulants improve a great deal once they have the right dose of their medication.

Myth or fact: Stimulants lead to substance abuse.

Myth. No studies have shown that stimulant medications lead to substance abuse. In fact, it may be more likely for those with ADHD to struggle with addiction later in life if they do not receive ADHD treatment. Either way, those with ADHD do tend to take risks, so they may be more prone to substance abuse whether they are being treated for ADHD or not.

Myth or fact: Medication is not the only proven treatment for ADHD.

Fact. Most experts recommend using both medication and behavior therapy to treat ADHD. And behavior therapy doesn't just benefit kids with ADHD—it can also help parents, teachers and other caregivers understand the value of being consistent and setting goals for kids.

Myth or fact: New treatments such as mineral supplements, reducing sugar intake and using motion sickness medicine may be able to cure some forms of ADHD.

Myth. At this time, there is no proven cure for ADHD. These new treatments need more scientific evidence to prove they work. In fact, it is important to talk to a doctor before using any other treatments, in case they interfere with a current medication.

Do you think you or your child is struggling with ADHD? Make sure to talk to your doctor to discuss diagnosing the disorder and the best treatment options.

Coping with ADHD symptoms

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; National Resource Center on ADHD

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