Do Medications “Cure” ADD?


"My wife and I are debating about Strattera. Does this medication permanently correct a chemical imbalance in the brain? Or does it "mask" the problem, so that someone with ADHD can function "normally" only while on the medication?"

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

ADDitude Answers

You ask good questions. I recommend that you read my book, Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on ADHD, for a more comprehensive explanation. Briefly, ADHD is due to a neurochemical deficiency in the brain. Medications, whether stimulants or Strattera, work in the brain to increase the level of this neurochemical. Once the level is normal, this area of the brain can work normally, and the symptoms of hyperactivity, distractibility, and impulsivity decrease or stop.

Once the medication wears off, the chemical level drops and the symptoms return. Medication doesn't "cure" ADHD, and there is no "cure" that we know of. (Think about a diabetic on insulin. Insulin corrects a chemical deficiency and allows a person to metabolize sugar. Once it wears off, however, the person can no longer do this.) At this time we can't correct the problem, only compensate for it, and medication has been found to be an effective approach.

Posted by Larry Silver, M.D.

A Reader Answers

There is no known cure but the right medication and the right therapist are two very important tools. As much as some characteristics are nothing but a major pain in the tush, I have learned to view many aspects of it as a gift. It’s what makes me ME.

I hope this helps.

Posted by ctm1

A Reader Answers

There is no cure for ADHD. It’s a physiological difference in the brain. Treatment can help a great deal though.

Here’s more on accepting the diagnosis.

Posted by adhdmomma

A Reader Answers

PLEASE PLEASE follow the advice on this site and do not fall for the folks selling gimmicks that are too good to be true.

They are.

Posted by Dr. Eric

A Reader Answers

I spent 50 years trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I spent three years learning how to live well with my ADHD. Yes, it would have been wonderful to have it "cured" before I learned to live well with it. Now that I am living well with it, I am no longer anxious or upset by it and how it affects my life.

Neurofeedback does help. Medications can help. Therapy can help. Finding a great coach can help.

For now, there is no cure. We do not know what the future will bring, so do not lose hope.

Yes, it can be frustrating and aggravating, but there is help and there is hope. Do not give up on yourself or your dreams.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert

A Reader Answers

The medication does not cure the condition, it makes it easier to deal with/live with more effectively. There is so much proactive stuff that we, ourselves, have to do. I’m still trying to figure out what works for me.

Posted by TrainManJack59

Read the original discussion on the ADDConnect forums.


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Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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