We spoke to Dr. Leila Chamoun, a pharmacist in Rabieh, about the different types of medications that are prescribed to treat ADHD in school-age children.
“There are several drugs that work in different ways to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. A medical professional will determine what will be most beneficial to your child,” she says. Worldwide, the two most commonly known medications to treat ADHD are Adderall and Ritalin.
An amphetamine, Adderall is a stimulant and its effect lasts about 4-‐6 hours. However, Adderall is not available in Lebanon. Ritalin (a methylphenidate), is the most commonly prescribed medication and it is slightly shorter acting, lasting 3-‐4 hours.
“The side effects of these drugs are similar: some people may experience a loss of appetite, sleep problems and irritability,” says Dr. Chamoun, stressing that serious complications are very rare when monitored by a medical professional.
Another class of methylphenidate is the drug Concerta. In contrast to Ritalin and Adderall, this drug lasts in the system about 10-‐12 hours. “Side effects of this drug may also include loss of appetite, weight loss and sleeping difficulties,” explains Dr. Chamoun.
A non-‐stimulant class of drug that is also administered quite commonly is Strattera. This drug is long-‐ lasting—about 24 hours. “Side effects with this drug that could be caused is anxiety, sleep problems, upset stomach, dry mouth and dizziness.”
Dr. Chamoun says that it is important that parents and teachers of kids taking these medications be aware of these side effects and try to find ways to accommodate them. “For example, if your child is on Ritalin and doesn’t feel like eating much at lunch time, make sure to prepare a larger meal in the afternoon when they return home from school, when their appetite returns.”