Are There Non-Addictive ADHD Medications to Help with Focus?

Are there non-addictive ADHD medications to help with focus? Yes, there are a number of these effective medications to help improve ADHD symptoms in both children and adults. This article will discuss some possible alternatives to the use of addictive stimulant drugs, such as mixed amphetamine salts and methylphenidate. While these medications have their place in the treatment of ADHD and other medical conditions, they can also cause physical dependence and addiction. Since these conditions can occur without warning and even under medical supervision, non-addictive options may be worth trying first.

The abuse of stimulant drugs, whether licit or illicit, can cause severe derangement of normal brain function, particularly concerning the critical brain messenger chemicals dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. The combination of pathological sleep deprivation from stimulant drug abuse and extreme depletion of brain messenger chemicals called neurotransmitters can cause paranoia and exceedingly peculiar behavior in the abuser. They may obsessively peer out the windows, thinking everyone is watching them, waiting to harm them. Sometimes, they become so convinced their odd illusions are real they will even call the police on themselves, reporting that tiny little men have moved into their home and are eating all their food. They may demand that law enforcement catch the pesky, sawed-off intruders and cart them away. One stimulant abuser was so sure of these invaders’ presence that police had to finally pacify her by pretending to use a “little man bag” to remove the imaginary tiny people.

Another abuser called emergency services for assistance because they saw 100 people in orange t-shirts standing in front of their home and they wanted the colorful trespassers removed from the premises immediately if not sooner. How this person knew there was exactly 100 wasn’t clear. These things have actually happened in real life and may sound amusing to the readers of this article, but there is really nothing funny about being disconnected from reality to such an extreme degree. There is nothing comical about losing your mind.

All stimulants can cause withdrawal symptoms if suddenly stopped. While not considered especially dangerous physically, this kind of withdrawal can cause profound, severe depression. This depression is caused by the brain’s depletion of dopamine and serotonin caused by repeated use of stimulants. The stimulants cause the brain to continually release these neurotransmitters in such a way that the brain cannot replace them fast enough. Dopamine is the brain’s feel-good, reward chemical. Without it, life may look very bleak. This has been described as if all the colors have washed out from the world. A shortage of serotonin has been linked to clinical depression. The result can be severe, even suicidal, feelings of depression. Certain medications can help the brain heal, raise neurotransmitter levels and relieve depression in those recovering in both the detox and recovery phases of stimulant addiction treatment.

Alternatives to Addictive ADHD Medications

There are both drug and non-drug options for treating ADHD symptoms. These can be used alone or in combination. Besides addiction, even when taken as prescribed, standard ADHD stimulants drugs can cause heart problems, loss of appetite, insomnia, mood swings and even suicidal thoughts. Here are some alternatives to standard stimulant drugs:

  • Amoxetine
  • Buproprion
  • Clonidine
  • Guanfacine

Amoxetine, sold under the brand name Strattera, may help those with ADHD by working on the brain’s norepinephrine system. This action appears to increase attention span and reduce impulsive behavior. Strattera does have the disadvantage of causing suicidal thoughts in a very small number of users, just like stimulants can, although Strattera is not a stimulant nor a controlled substance. It may not be suitable for children with both ADHD and anxiety, and it can take several weeks to reach full effectiveness. The medication is about two-thirds as effective as stimulants, with exact results varying from patient to patient.

Guanfacine, brand name Intuniv, is actually an alpha agonist. It was developed to lower high blood pressure, but it now has another use for children with ADHD who also experience tics, sleep disorders and aggression. Originally used off-label for ADHD, the drug now has FDA approval for this condition. When taken for ADHD, it’s swallowed whole as a time-released medication working around the clock.

Clonidine is a beta-blocker, a reliable, effective medication long used to lower blood pressure and to treat certain heart conditions. In long-acting form under the brand name Kapvay it’s FDA approved to treat ADHD. Its exact mechanism in ADHD is unknown, but it may work by balancing neurotransmitters, which in turn reduces hyperactivity and may increase focus.

Buproprion is an older medication traditionally used to treat depression. It’s an NDRI, which stands for norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor. This means it works by making more of both neurotransmitters available to the brain’s cells, possibly improving memory, concentration and focus.

For More Information

If you’d like more information about ADHD treatment medications and other alternatives, just call us anytime at 833-364-0736. We can help you find a doctor who treats ADHD or help you find a drug treatment facility for stimulant addiction. We can also answer any questions you may have. We’re here to help.