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Should you take stimulant medication for ADHD?

Robert Merki


ADHD medication changed my life. The only thing I wish I could have done differently is to have started earlier.

It's also not for everyone. Some people have negative side effects that outweigh the benefits.

I personally found a dosage and brand that worked the best for me. I now take this medication daily, with the occasional break once in a while.

Also note, there are some medications that are "non-stimulant". I have tried one of these (Strattera) and it had no effect on me. This article is specifically looking at stimulant medication, such as Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse, and Concerta.

I know that taking medication seems scary to some people, so here is my personal opinion on ADHD medication to help you decide if you should take it or not.

Does ADHD Medication Actually Work?

Yes. There are a million studies I could post proving this, but let's just leave it with this:

...medication was significantly more efficacious than placebo in treating ADHD in adults, and the extension studies showed that this favorable effect of medication was maintained during the open-label follow-up period.

Source: Long-term efficacy and safety of treatment with stimulants and atomoxetine in adult ADHD: A review of controlled and naturalistic studies

Benefits of ADHD Medication

When I take ADHD medication, I can do things I normally wouldn't be able to do. The efficacy is so well established it's not even worth posting more sources.

Some of the benefits:

  • I can sit down and actually do the work I want to do.
  • Hobbies become much less hectic because I can sit down and focus!
  • Distractions are less obvious because my mind wanders less.
  • I'm able to focus on conversations much better
  • Way less "brain fog" than before
  • More patience (and less frustration and "slow" things)
  • So many less distractions in general!
  • My mind feels like the "gears" are turning
  • Massive increase in productivity.
  • Lower risk of substance abuse (seriously, checkout this study)

Side Effects of ADHD Medication

I don't have all of these side effects, but I have experienced or have spoken to someone who has experienced these at some time:

  • Insomnia / hard time falling asleep
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration / irritability
  • Loss of appetite / loss of thirst
  • Dehydration (resolved by drinking lots of water)
  • Digestion issues
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Emotional instability

The Long Term Effects of ADHD Medication

There's some valid concerns about the long-term effects of stimulant medication for people with ADHD, but there is nothing conclusive right now.

Seriously, I've looked up and down at dozens of studies, Reddit posts, and asked around the community.

The only possible side effects I have found are:

  • Weight loss (because of the appetite suppression)
  • Tolerance (resolved by increasing dosage over time)
  • Abuse (a small number of people use stimulant medication as a party drug)

If I come across anything else, I'll update the list.

Can I Take a Day Off?

What happens if you stop taking your medication?

Nothing. In fact, many people don't take their meds on the weekends, and some only take them a few times per week.

Stimulant medication feels very much like drinking coffee. You'll get the effect for the next 12 hours, but it wears off completely by the next morning.


If you're on the fence about taking medication, I'd suggest talking to your doctor and testing it out. The worst thing that can happen is you end up not liking it, and you just stop.

Personally, medication has been a massive boost to my life and to my productivity. It's not the only thing that helps me stay productive, but it's a large part of my success.

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