ADHD in adults: current treatment trends with consideration of abuse potential of medications

J Psychiatr Pract. 2011 Jul;17(4):241-50. doi: 10.1097/


Objective: To review the literature describing impairments in educational, occupational, and social functioning in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), current treatment trends, and factors that may influence the abuse potential of long-acting medications used to treat ADHD in adults.

Methods: A MEDLINE search was conducted to identify articles relating to functional impairments and treatment options for adults with ADHD, as well as the abuse potential of ADHD medications.

Results: ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric behavioral disorders in children, and its symptoms have been shown to persist into adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD may occur at home, school, work, or in social situations, and symptom occurrence in these different settings can have a profound negative impact for adults with ADHD. Impairments in educational, occupational, and social functioning in adults with ADHD have been described and are summarized in this review article. Although long-acting medications are more frequently prescribed for children with ADHD than short-acting medications, adults with ADHD are equally likely to be treated with short- and long-acting medications. While all medications used to treat ADHD in adults have potential for abuse, there are a number of factors that may contribute to a lower potential for abuse for long-acting agents compared with immediate-release medications.

Conclusion: Impairments from ADHD can be chronic and persistent and they can affect daily educational, occupational, and personal functioning. Adults, in particular, have responsibilities that can extend into the late evening hours so that clinicians need to consider medication duration of action when selecting a pharmacotherapy intervention for adults with ADHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Educational Status*
  • Humans
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants