Medication Offers Relief Not a Cure

At present, there is no cure for ADD syndrome, but there are medication treatments that have been demonstrated safe and effective in alleviating symptoms of ADD syndrome in 80 to 90 percent of children, adolescents, and adults who have the disorder. Just as eyeglasses do not repair the patient's eyes and cure impaired vision, so medications that alleviate ADD syndrome do not cure problems of brain chemistry that cause these impairments: the improvements last only as long as the medication is active in the body. Yet, when carefully and appropriately utilized, these medications can facilitate substantial improvement in the daily functioning of most persons impaired by ADD syndrome, although not with equal effectiveness for all. For some patients, medication for ADD brings improvements that are dramatic and pervasive; for others, effects are significant, but not huge; for others, results are more modest; and for 10 to 20 percent of those affected with ADD syndrome, current medication treatments are not effective at all.

For the most fortunate of those who suffer from ADD syndrome, well-managed medication alleviates their impairments to the extent that not much further treatment is needed. These individuals have a good understanding of what they ought to do in most situations; they are just unable consistently to do it unless adequately treated. Unmedicated, they are too often unable to activate themselves at the right times, or to sustain the nec essary focus and effort, or to engage their working memory and monitor their actions enough to do what they know they need to do. But when appropriate medication is in place to correct the chronic chemical problems that have impaired their executive functions, they generally function well.

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