Ask the Experts

When Teens Refuse ADHD Meds

“My son used to do extremely well on ADHD medication, but has refused to take it since he started middle school. His grades are dropping and he’s getting into trouble. What should I do?”

Early adolescence is a difficult time. Children do not want to be different and desperately want to be accepted. It is not uncommon for the student with ADHD to be cooperative about taking medication in school until reaching middle school, and then refuse to do so.

It is best to respect this need not to be seen as different. If you want him back on medication, it will likely have to be one that covers the full school day so he does not have to visit the school nurse and feel as if he is calling attention to himself. There are several stimulant medications that last throughout the day. There are also non-stimulant medications that last the entire school day. Discuss the possibility of changing to another medication (or another form of the current medication) with your child’s physician.

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