Home » How Do Prescription Stimulants Help ADHD?

Millions of people of all ages suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention deficit disorder (ADD). This mental health condition creates symptoms such as difficulty focusing, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Medications like prescription stimulants can provide relief for individuals with ADHD. However, many people are still unclear how these medications work in the human body.

Prescription Stimulants and ADHD:

The use of prescription stimulants for people with an ADHD diagnosis is a common treatment approach. The use of stimulants has an established history of treating the behaviors commonly associated with ADHD. Existing research suggests that stimulants help this population of people by raising the brain’s dopamine levels.

As a neurotransmitter, dopamine is strongly connected to actions such as attention, happiness and motivation. Studies show that for the majority of people with an ADHD diagnosis, the use of stimulant medications seem to increase the ability to concentrate and focus. At the same time, they reduce behaviors such as poor impulse control and hyperactivity.

This medication is used in a short-acting or long-acting dosage manner. However, for more details on dosage amounts, please contact a certified psychiatrist.

Promoting Cognitive Effort:

More recent research has found that stimulants help the brain by increasing the people’s willingness to spend cognitive effort in order to perform cognitive work. Chemical aspects of these drugs actually, appear to raise people’s motivation to work on more challenging tasks. These medications actually boost an individual’s cognitive motivation.

The common understanding that medications for ADHD increase focus are only one piece of how these stimulants work. More recent studies seem to indicate that these drugs increase people’s ability to be motivated to undertake more difficult tasks. It appears that the brain is elevating the perceived benefits of undertaking a more challenging task. In other words, the ability to perform the task has not only increased, but so has the motivation.

Additional research is needed to understand whether prescription stimulants primarily increase intrinsic motivation or cognitive ability. However, both of these attributes likely play a role in a person’s willingness to expend effort on a task.

Possible Abuse of Prescription Stimulants:

As with many other medications, there is a dark side. Stimulants can be misused and abused by people. The fact that these drugs increase people’s energy and alertness make these substances the desired drug for some individuals. Often the misuse of these drugs is through the following actions:

  • Taking a dosage of the medication that was not prescribed by a healthcare professional.
  • People taking another person’s prescribed stimulant medication.
  • Consuming the medication with the intent to achieve an altered state (get high).

Using a prescription stimulant in the ways mentioned above can develop into a substance use disorder (SUD) or addiction. Longer-term use of these types of medications can create a higher level of tolerance. This means that greater or more frequent dosages of the drug are needed in order to achieve the same effect.

Mental health professionals will likely diagnosis individuals with a SUD when their drug use substantially interferes with everyday activities. Examples of this include the rise of health issues as well as problems with work, school or family/home relationships. SUD and addiction are serious issues that should be fully discussed with a trained mental health provider.

Final Details:

The use of prescription stimulants provides can provide great benefits when used responsibly under a doctor’s orders. However, much like other medications, there are risks and side effects that are associated with using these drugs. The use of these medications to treat ADHD/ADD does have potential side effects.

Before starting any new treatment regiment, it is important to have all of the facts. Seek the advice of a trained and experienced psych behavioral health professional. A professional mental health center can also help individuals understand what insurance options are available for these treatments.

For more specific information about ADHD and stimulants, individuals should directly contact Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center. Their main office phone number is 614-580-6917. To correspond through email, please click HERE. Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center provides experienced and effective behavioral health services in central Ohio.

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Contributor:  ABCS RCM

Emerald’s Response to “Responsible Restart Ohio” Protocols

Please note that as of April 28th, ALL PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATION MANAGEMENT APPOINTMENTS AND THERAPY/COUNSELING APPOINTMENTS WILL CONTINUE TO BE DONE VIA TELEPSYCHIATRY WITH THE EXCEPTION OF TMS TREATMENTS, WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO BE DONE IN OUR OFFICE. Although some types of medical encounters/procedures will be “restarting” in the coming weeks, it has been made clear that any work that can be done remotely, should continue to be done remotely. Our patients have reported overwhelmingly positive responses to our telepsychiatry services. We will continue to practice recommended social/physical distancing at this time through telepsychiatry appointments, other than TMS treatments. Emerald will continue to monitor any changes in recommendations from the state of Ohio and will update this section as necessary.