Is Intuniv a New Nonstimulant Medication for ADHD?


I've been hearing about Intuniv, a new nonstimulant medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Could it be a good option for my son?

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

ADDitude Answers

Intuniv is an extended-release formulation of the high-blood pressure medication guanfacine (sold for hypertension under the brand name Tenex) that can be used alone or along with stimulant medications in children ages 6 to 17. It is not a new medication.

We have known for many years that guanfacine may help some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), especially those with high levels of impulsivity that cause disruptive behaviors. Many practitioners have prescribed this drug “off-label” for a while. You should ask your doctor if he thinks it would be a good option for your son.

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

ADDitude Answers

Intunive is often use s a complimentary treatment to stimulant medication. Here’s more about Intuniv in general:

> [[NewWindow(, _self, Intuniv: ADHD Medication for Kids)]]

> [[NewWindow(, _self, Intuniv: Answers to Your ADHD Medication Questions)]]

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

A Reader Answers

My son started Intuniv about a month ago. He also takes Vyvanse. We have seen a big difference in talking back impulsively and impulsive behavior. He seems more thoughtful with others. The first week or 2 he had some lethargy, but his body has adjusted and he no longer has that tired feeling. We like it alot and has made our house less stressful. It works for our 9-year-old very well.

Posted by francesk

A Reader Answers

OVERVIEW OF IMPACT OF INTUNIV ON MY KIDS: I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised at how much Intuniv is helping my two boys.


My boys are 9 and 11. The 9-year-old has ADHD combined type, anxiety, some obsessive thinking, and a mild form of dyslexia. The 11-year-old has Inattentive ADHD, anxiety, and dysgraphia. It was thought that the stimulant medication would increase the anxiety levels for both of the boys, and obsessive thinking.


My 9-year-old is taking 2 mg, and my 11-year-old is taking 3mg. They both take it at night, as it helps them fall asleep.


Somnolence/Sleepiness: For the first few days, they were both very sleepy. I would recommend trying it before the school year begins, so kids can take midday naps while you figure out the right dose.

Bedwetting/Wetting Pants: For the first 3-4 weeks, my kids had trouble wetting their pants or wetting the bed. We tried having kids take their dose earlier in the day to help with that.


This drug really helps both boys, but in different ways. I am glad we tried it and stuck with it through the side effects. The 11-year-old has inattentive ADHD, and it helps him the most. I am amazed at how he can express himself verbally and in writing in ways he never could before.

My 9-year-old has combined type ADHD, and it helps him get a better night’s sleep so he can listen and focus better during the day. He seems much more able to be organized, bring home his homework and the materials he needs, and turn in his homework.


We tried Strattera for both boys. The 9-year-old had a very bad reaction, with crazy behavior, so we stopped within 1 week. The 11-year-old seemed to have no positive benefits so we stopped.

We tried Adderall XR for the 9-year-old going from 5 to 10 mg, and it made him talk MORE, and he said he had even more thoughts, so we stopped that for now.

Posted by danceratheart

A Reader Answers

We are in our 4th week of Intuniv and so far it looks good. My 11-year-old son has been on either Adderall XR or Daytrana for 5 years, and during that time has never eaten lunch and always needed melatonin to sleep. We also had problems with facial tics, so we couldn’t use many of the stimulants. It seemed they worked well for the hyperactivity and impulsivity but not the attention issues.

So far on Intuniv he has a more normal eating pattern and has stopped using melatonin. We are testing a 4 mg dose may go back down to 3 because of sedation but we’ll give it a few more days. He’s not been on stimulants and the fact that he functions fine in school is amazing. He sat down the other day and worked for 45 minutes straight on a geography map he was making for school, which was shocking itself.

I’m tentatively optimistic that this may be a better medication for us.

Posted by Dana

A Reader Answers

My ten year old son was taken off of Concerta and placed on Intuniv because the neurologist was concerned a stimulant would make his tics worse.

We tried Intuniv with no other meds. We started at 1mg and moved up through the starter pack. He took Intuniv for 3 months, until we couldn’t stand it anymore.

My sweet but very energetic son turned into an aggressive, sometimes violent child. He screamed, slammed things, and even started pushing and punching people and objects. We went back to our primary pediatrician and went off Intuniv and back on to Concerta.

I know that everyone responds to medications differently but I was not warned by this neurologist that this medication can cause aggression, suicidal ideations, and suicidal behavior. Please be aware of the potential side effects when putting your child on this medication! It can also cause low blood pressure and dizziness.

Posted by melissadm2000

A Reader Answers

My 8 year old son has been 1 mg Intuniv for almost a year now. He takes it in addition to his daytrana patch. I have noticed a huge difference with the Intuniv. Yes, he sleeps better at night. I give him the Intuniv about an hour before bedtime. He is not tired during the day from it. He is much more even during the day and evenings. He doesn’t have the crash that he used to have before the Intuniv. It also helps with his impulsiveness.

For us, Intuniv has been wonderful! It does take 4 to 6 weeks before it really starts to work. So, give it time, and see if you can give it to your son in the evenings.

Posted by cmullen17

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


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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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