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This video is Chapter 23 of our 99 video series ADHD Medication: Straight Answers to Big Questions.

Adult ADHD Medication Concerns, and Long-Term Risks

Concerns about the side effects of taking medication, and the long-term risk of adult ADHD medications stop many people from even trying them. Add to that, the misinformation, stigma and myths around medications and it’s a wonder anyone tries them. For many people, at some point the risks of not taking medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder become so great that the fears are overcome by the need. Many of us consider the long term effects of taking a medication, but not the long term of effects of not taking medication on our quality of life. In this video, we tackle the tough questions “Why bother taking medication? Why risk it?”.

The following is a transcription of the above video:

Rick Green: Better the devil you know or so we think. The problem with ADHD is that whole poor at self-assessment issue, because we have nothing else to compare it to.

ADHD is very heritable there’s a strong genetic component, this is how we come into the world. We’re so used to the chaos we can be forgiven for not being able to imagine that we could experience this world in any other way.

Yes I sensed that medication might allow me to do some things faster with less stress, less chaos, some positive outcomes, but what I didn’t appreciate was that it also might prevent me from experiencing some negative outcomes. Ones that most of us never consider.

Dr Ari Tuckman: So all that stuff that we know about how ADHD makes your life harder, you know might we want to consider that in this equation as well?

Dr Hallowell: When people talk about the side effects of medication I say fine we can talk about that but let’s also talk about the side effects of not taking the medication.

Dr Lenard Adler: I would tell the parents that it’s again never easy to medicate a child but there are consequences to not treating the ADHD.

Dr Ari Tuckman: and that’s very well documented there’s pounds and pounds of research on the effects that ADHD has when it’s untreated.

Dr Adler: we know that there are clear issues in educational attainment.

Dr Adler: and it’s everything from you know for kids, higher rates of school failure, more likely to drop out of high school, less likely to go to college if they do go they’re less likely to graduate.

Rick Green: In other words we don’t remember the lessons so we don’t do as well in school as we could we flunk out or drop out or fail to finish our degree we opt for a lesser degree, we take a job that’s beneath our skill level, we’re far more likely to be fired or have our business go under or go bankrupt ourselves, and now many of us have report cards saying could do better if he only paid attention more, could do better if she only listened.

Dr Donsky: it’s the untreated disorder that puts people at risk.

Dr Adler: We don’t treat the ADHD we know the risk of substance use goes way up.

Dr Donsky: If you are impulsive and if your ADHD has not been treated you might find yourself taking more risks as a teenager and getting involved. If in fact you’re more organized competent functional you’re less likely to resort to those sorts of street drugs and things.

Rick Green: if I could just find a really good organizing system or maybe join a gym or something. This time for sure Rocky. Every January a brand new agenda full of fresh hope, plus the renewed commitment to buckle down stick to it, and then by mid-February uh didn’t have an agenda or something and then next January a brand new organizing system. I wanted to build personal habits.

I actually had personal habits. They weren’t good and I was trying to see a better way, but I needed something to help me focus. That’s why.

Dr Adler: Medications for adults tend to play a bit more of a primary role as compared to children because adults have lived with these symptoms for all of their lives.

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