Should I take my ADHD medicine every day? This is a question I hear often from my patients, and my response is always: Do you only wear glasses on days you want to see?
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a potentially lifelong disorder that can rob you of your ability to fulfill promises to yourself and others, your ability to relate to those around you in meaningful ways, and your ability to really see what’s going on around you. You find yourself, in most arenas, getting in your own way, and you just can’t get a handle on your thoughts and actions.
The long-term benefits of treating ADHD are truly life-changing, but you only get those benefits with daily dosing. These include increased likelihood of having a long-term romantic relationship, finishing high school or college and staying off drugs and alcohol, as well as decreased likelihood of jail time, teen pregnancy, developing anxiety or depression and developing PTSD following exposure to trauma.
I’d argue that, if you only pick one place to take your ADHD medication, you should take it in the place where your relationships are most likely to build resilience – at home. ADHD can interfere with academics and work performance, but that’s not typically the most important way that ADHD interferes with life. ADHD mostly interferes with relationships, and it’s been shown time and again that it’s our relationships that lead to a fulfilling life. Since we have relationships in all parts of our lives, patients need to take ADHD medication every day.
If there is something you don’t like about your ADHD medication, work with your doctor to find a medication that works best for you. When you take it, you should feel like your best self. It might not be the first or even the second medication you try. Your relationship with your doctor needs to be open enough that you can provide feedback on how you feel with the chosen medication. The goal is to find something with which you feel like the best version of yourself, where you are in control of your own thoughts. After all, it is only by controlling our thoughts that we have control over our emotions, and our emotions drive our behavior.
Since it all starts with our thoughts, I encourage you to take your medication daily as recommended by your doctor.