Ask the Experts

Making the Switch: Trying a New ADHD Medication

Feel like your or your child’s ADHD medication isn’t the best choice? Learn how to transition to a new one, and why it’s trickier to switch from a non-stimulant to a stimulant.

stimulant and non-stimulant medications to treat ADHD
illustration of pills against a dark background

Are either you or your child managing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with medication that doesn’t seem to be working quite right? Switching from one stimulant to another, or from a stimulant to a non-stimulant, is a pretty straightforward matter. Stimulants wear off rapidly, and they are completely eliminated from the body by the end of the specified duration (four, eight, or 12 hours). Thus, it is possible to stop a stimulant one day and start another stimulant (or non-stimulant) the next.

Switching from a non-stimulant is more complicated. Non-stimulants remain in the body for a long time, and the dosage must be reduced gradually, over several days.

In some cases, depending on the medications involved, it’s possible to start taking a new med as you phase out the old. In other cases, you must be completely off one med before starting the next. Your doctor will tell you how to make this transition.