Meds or No Meds? How to Treat a Child with ADHD

Clarifying the controversy around medicating kids with ADHD.

Clarifying the controversy around medicating kids with ADHD
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Rostain advises concerned parents to first consult with their child's primary provider, who can suggest a specialist. From there, learn as much as you can about various treatment tools available, such as counseling, medication, diet and skills training to determine the best strategy for your child. "Just giving kids meds is not the right answer," Rostain says. "But not giving kids meds is also not the right answer."

Indeed, for all the buzz over the aforementioned Quebec study, its conclusion makes a similar point. The crux of the issue is not so much the use of ADHD medication as misuse: "Our results are silent on the effects on optimal use of medication for ADHD, but suggest that expanding medication use can have negative consequences given the average way these drugs are used in the community."

As Caughman explains, medications can be a useful intervention in helping children learn skills that, in their absence, could hinder a child's lifelong success and self-esteem. "Are they a cure for ADHD? No," she answers. They provide kids with "a short-term ability to focus" so they can employ other treatments for the long run.

[Read: Surviving ADHD at Work and School.]

Clarified on 08/19/2013: A previous version of this piece stated that a study would be published at a specific date rather than in the near future.