This review provides the following:

  • information about the diagnosis of ADHD
  • how ADHD drugs act on the brain
  • a review of the safety and efficacy of ADHD drugs (including their long-term effects)
  • a review of clinical care guidelines for ADHD


In short term studies, ADHD medications have been shown to be effective in reducing core ADHD symptoms, such as task irrelevant activity (e.g. finger-tapping, fidgetiness, and and off-task behaviors), and classroom disturbance. However, the drugs have not been shown to improve classroom performance, and long-term use of ADHD medication is associated with worse outcomes in multiple domains, including academic achievement. The medications may cause a wide range of physical, emotional, and cognitive adverse effects.

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