Dear ADDitude: Should We Take a Drug Holiday?

"My 9 year old takes 30 milligrams of Vyvanse on school days. We give him the weekends, vacations, and summers off the medication as it helps with sleeping and eating. So, we have been off medication since Wednesday and he is off-the-wall crazy. There are rebounds, but this is nuts. What should I do?"
Success at School | posted by Penny Williams

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ADDitude Answers

If it doesn't work out to have no meds, try a super low dose for the summer. We have lowered my son's dosage for summer, school breaks, and weekends with success. We tried to go a few weeks with no meds the summer my son was 8, to see how it was after 2 years on meds, and it was as you describe.

Plus, my son was going 110 mph. He couldn’t enjoy anything because he couldn’t stick with it more than a couple minutes. By Day 3, he requested to take medication again. It’s possible that this is one long rebound of sorts from stopping stimulants cold-turkey.

Posted by Penny Williams
ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

A Reader Answers

My son is 10. He has been on meds (Concerta) since he was 7. We also take him off of his meds during the summer. The first week he is normally very emotional, moody, and wild. After a week or so he calms down and gets back to his normal self. I would check with your doctor, but give it another week or so.

Good luck!

Posted by csinclair

A Reader Answers

I keep my daughter on her medication during weekends and vacations. For us, the reason for keeping her on is two fold:

1. Because she can’t focus during sports/classes that get held on the weekends without her meds.
2. She has a completely different attitude when she is off them which completely impacts our home life.

That being said, we have missed doses here and there and she is fine and has no issues when she starts them back after a day or two off.

I have discussed this with her doctor many times as I am concerned about her taking the meds and her weight. We have decided as a team (doctor, parents, and kid) that it is best if she takes them all the time. If and when she can handle not taking them, then we will re-adjust.

Posted by kgust1847

A Reader Answers

The newest research, as explained by our pediatrician, indicates that a “medication break” is NOT recommended. As with other medications that affect the brain (antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, etc.) they take time (days to weeks) to build up to a certain level in the brain in order to have the desired effect. The OLD way was to break for the summer or weekends, however, the newest recommendation is to continue meds everyday — especially since your latest one is working well for him.

Posted by srob

This question was originally asked in the ADDConnect forums. Read the original discussion here.

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