Social stigma and feeling lifeless and/or alienated from one’s peers are some of the reasons why children and adolescents stop taking prescription stimulant medications used to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study published in the Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing.
ADHD is a common neurobehavioral disorder, affecting 4.4 million children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17. Following diagnosis, 56% are treated with prescription stimulant medications. According to the study, many stop using these medications even while they are still exhibiting symptoms of the disorder, despite research indicating these medications are effectively reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.
The study also found that while ADHD is a chronic disorder, none of the adolescents interviewed had received ongoing education about their condition. As college students, many used the medications irregularly, sometimes in doses exceeding the prescribed amount, and often at night – factors that may exacerbate the side effects
Julie B. Meaux, PhD, RNC, lead author of the study, suggests that “dialogue between the child, parents and healthcare provider about the general effects, side effects and potential abuse of prescribed stimulant medications is essential,” adding “careful administration of dosages, based on input from the child, is exceedingly important.”
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