Are Drug Holidays Safe?


"My son feels sick and gets headaches whenever he takes a one- or two-day "drug holiday" from his ADHD stimulant medication. Could this be the stimulant rebound effect I've been hearing about?"

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

"Rebound" is a term used to describe the state of extreme irritability or anger that some children experience about an hour after their last dose of ADHD medication wears off.

Rebound generally does not cause headaches or a sick feeling, so I doubt that this explains your son's situation.

Ask your doctor about keeping your child off the medication for a week. If the headaches continue and/or he feels sick on a daily basis, these problems are probably not caused by the medication, and your doctor needs to look for another reason. If the headaches go away during the extended drug holiday, ask your doctor about decreasing his dosage or switching to a new medication.

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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