Psy-Q: Given the rise in stimulant use disorder, should psychiatrists be concerned about prescribing stimulants to children and adolescents with ADHD?

Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP

Answer: “No – not as long as they are screening for risk factors (such as a history of addiction),” says Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP, a clinical psychologist, addiction specialist, and the owner of Bridge Forward Group in Chicago.

“The more prevalent issue is when stimulants are prescribed to youth who haven’t been formally tested for ADHD,” he points out. Since other conditions can cause similar symptoms, it’s crucial that young people be properly diagnosed before being treated for ADHD.

“As ADHD is a very biologically-driven condition, having effective medication can make a tremendous difference in quality of life – it’s just important that physicians use due diligence and confirm a diagnosis before prescribing,” says Dr. Weiner.

He also stresses the need for clinicians to monitor the patient over time to ensure the drug is being used as intended and not misused or diverted. In addition, he advises that parents or caregivers be put in charge of administering the prescription to children to confirm proper dosage and medication adherence.

 

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Last Updated: May 3, 2021