ADHD Medication Does Not Improve School Achievement


The journal Science reviews the current state of research on ADHD medication, finding that the drugs do not improve school performance or achievement in the long term.  The article cites recent research by Janet Currie (et al.), who adds “It’s misleading to tell parents that this will help their children succeed, when there’s no evidence that it’s the case.”

Article →

Medication: The smart-pill oversell (Science)
Study: Adderall Doesn’t Help Kids Get Better Grades (The Atlantic)
How Adderall could actually hurt your kid’s grades (Quartz)
Currie, J., Stabile, M., Jones, L.; Do Stimulant Medications Improve Educational and Behavioral Oucomes for Children With ADHD? NBER Working Paper Series. (Revised January 2014)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I wish everyone would read this article who keeps recommending medication for “ADHD.” All the lines about “untreated ADHD” leading to delinquency, school failure, etc., are clearly not relevant, as “treatment” changes none of these variables in the slightest. And their argument that community treatment is of low quality also holds no water – that’s the treatment the community is receiving, and the data says it DOES NOT HELP!

    Science is pretty mainstream. I hope the word starts to spread. It is hard to comprehend the magical belief system that underlies this practice. Of course, it’s easy to understand the financial motivations of the purveyors of the concept, but this science is not new and this “treatment” should have been tossed out as useless over longer than 12 months back in the 70s.

    —- Steve

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  2. Ritalin and Amphetamines (study steroids) may make you feel smarter and can boost your grades but it is an illusion.

    They only increase the capacity to jam more stuff into short term memory for the test.

    Its also an illusion that ‘ADHD’ kids are not paying attention, we could be looking at that squirrel out the window and still hear ever word a teacher is saying and retain everything interesting and important.

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