How often should ADD medications be administered?
Since ADD is a biological problem that is with the individual from the beginning to the end of every day, the goal in using medication should be to provide relief of the ADD symptoms continuously throughout the whole day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
This means that depending upon the characteristics of the particular medication that is selected as optimal, it is important to define a regimen of administering the medication (or combinations of medications) that provides improved attention from as early in the morning to as late into the evening as possible.
The easiest time to pay attention
Some people hold onto the mistaken notion that the only times the ADD individual needs the benefit of medication is during school or work hours. Actually, these are really the easiest times to pay attention during the day! They are generally highly structured situations where it is likely that the individual will receive immediate feedback if his behavior or performance is off the mark.
The same cannot be said for other daily life tasks like completing homework, remembering to complete chores, and maintaining healthy routines for eating, exercise, and sleeping. While there are structures that can be used to ensure these independent functioning tasks are completed efficiently, the individual must impose them on himself and self-monitor the results. Feedback often comes well after the fact in the form of nagging from a parent or spouse or shock when stepping onto the bathroom scale.
ADD, medication, and social skills
Controlling our emotions and communicating effectively during social interactions are even more attentionally demanding. They occur at unpredictable times and, most often, in unstructured situations. Feedback, if it comes at all, can be very subtle . . . a raised eyebrow, a change in tone of voice, a sudden change in plans that makes it impossible to get together.
When you know you need it…
I have talked to some adults with ADD at conferences who say they do well just taking the medication only when they know they need it. I find this particularly troubling for two reasons. First, “knowing you need it” requires efficient attention. Without proper medication, the individual with ADD doesn’t always monitor himself. It’s an unfortunate irony that ADD is one of the only health problems we deal with where the problem itself stands in the way of the individual knowing he has a problem. It should be no surprise that these individuals often, inadvertently, come across as rude . . . interrupting, straying off topic, and monopolizing the conversation.
For a more detailed, clinical discussion of the use of medication to treat ADD, visit ADDBasics.org to download Dr. Liden’s free ebook, ADD/ADHD Basics 301: Rationale for Clinically Necessary Off-Label Use of Stimulant Medications in the Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.