Skipping ADHD Medication

Q. My son takes ADHD medication. Can he take his medication Monday through Friday while he is in school and skip the weekends, or should he take it everyday?

A. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports, in their 2004© book ADHD A Complete and Authoritative Guide, that some physicians and families stop medication on weekends, during summer vacation, or over long periods when they feel their child needs them less. These breaks may speak to the desire of parents or children to minimize the use of stimulants, but there is no reliable evidence indicating that they are helpful or necessary from a medical point of view.

The medical practitioner and the family should agree on the pattern of stimulant treatment. The choice between continuous daily administration of stimulant medication or treatment only for school days with weekends and holidays off should also take into consideration the severity and impact of ADHD symptoms across settings. Teenagers and young adults driving or traveling on the weekend pose real challenges and would be best served with medication effective during this time period. Younger children supervised in a more structured setting with less severe ADHD symptoms likely pose less challenge.

All changes to the pattern of treatment should be in consultation with the medical provider.

Dr. George Fincher, M.A., M. Ed., Ed. D.

Chattanooga Behavioral Medical Center

6290 Vance Road, Suite 104

Chattanooga, TN 37421