Caffeine as a Treatment


"Can caffeine be used to treat AD/HD symptoms?"

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

ADDitude Answers

Some studies suggest that consuming lots of caffeine can improve focus, but there's no evidence to suggest that caffeine affects hyperactivity or impulsivity. The amount of caffeine you'd need to consume to affect AD/HD would probably cause agitation (not to mention spending too much time in the bathroom).

I don't recommend drinking caffeinated beverages (or taking caffeine-containing pills) as a way to treat AD/HD.

Posted by Larry Silver, M.D.
Author of The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities

A Reader Answers

I’ve heard some people say it does, and theoretically you’d think that it would as caffeine is a stimulant, but it doesn’t work for my son. In fact, it keeps him awake at night, which makes his ADHD worse. I allow it during the day on weekends, but after a certain point in the afternoon he can’t have it. I would also look out for sugar content. Sugar doesn’t affect my son personally, but many parents say that it makes theirs hyperactive.

Posted by Rai0414

A Reader Answers

Mayo Clinic said using caffeine as a stimulant for children with ADHD can have risky side effects and does not recommend it. Yesterday, our doctor told me that it does not act the same way a medical stimulant does.

Posted by linadixie

A Reader Answers

My 10-year-old has coffee sometimes and it does seem to help him focus. However, it doesn’t help with his impulse control the way his medication (Focalin) does. I guess that you could try having a small amount of coffee and see if it seems to help you personally. Posted by Sarahph

A Reader Answers

Be careful having caffeine while on your medication -- you’re combining two powerful stimulants. My doctor told me that with a using both long-term could cause an enlargement of the heart.

Posted by BradW

A Reader Answers

My main issue is that coffee is not time released. Even if it worked, it would not last long enough.

Posted by Sandman2

A Reader Answers

I only recommend coffee if (and ONLY if) you have no medical coverage. Personally, I don’t have coverage and I think it’s better than nothing, at least for me.

Posted by foothillbilly

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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