Looking for a light : So my son is... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Looking for a light

Determined_Momma profile image
18 Replies

So my son is 14yrs old and he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 7. I tried Ritalin, Vyvance and Adderall which all had horrible side effects. I've tried to manage by monitoring what he eats among other things , however this year his sypmtoms have gotten extremely worse. I am at a loss on what to do. I do not want to medicate with those drugs because I understand that they can lead to other issues in life. I have been seeing lately for Brillia it's not a prescription and I'm curious to see some people's thoughts. Also are there any alternatives besides the harsh medications that they prescribe? I'm worried because it seems his behavior is getting worse, all the school wants to do is label him as bad and keep him suspended or in ISS which has caused him to fall behind. I'm frustrated because I feel like when I advocate for him, they just think of me as an angry mom that wont take accountability for her son be "Bad".

18 Replies
JayannL profile image

You could try a non stimulant medication. Plus he is probably going through puberty, which makes his moods up and down. Also you could speak to a health care specialist from the health food store.


Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to JayannL

He is definitely going through puberty, which is making things worse. Thank you for your advise

Aloysia profile image

How long ago did you try the meds? My son had horrible side effects when he first tried them at 7 years old. One caused severe headaches and stomach aches. One caused him to be sad (we now avoid this one). When he tried meds again at 10 years old his body had changed enough that he was able to tolerate them without side effects.

I have not heard of these meds causing other problems in life. Could you please elaborate?

I agree with JayannL that the non-stimulants are also worth trying.

Clearly he's struggling and something needs to change quickly so that he can be successful in high school (and life afterwards). Unless another poster has suggestions, you might need to bite the bullet and try out various medications again. All the behavior modification, 504 plan, and parental support can only get you so far. For some kids that can be enough, but for most kids they need the meds too.

Take care!

Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to Aloysia

Thank you I appreciate this information. He was 8 when we tried on one med he was very sad and suicidal as you could imagine terrified me. On the other he was very angry all the time. I work in the mental health field and I see many of my clients that have ADHD and have used drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse which are habit forming drugs. Many people that have used them have gone on to have addiction issues. That terrifies me to my core. I have gotten some great information in just one day of being in this community.

Aloysia profile image
Aloysia in reply to Determined_Momma

Everything I've read points to ADHD itself as being a high risk for addictive behavior. In my opinion, saying that someone with ADHD is addicted to ADHD meds is like saying that someone with diabetes is addicted to insulin. Many people without ADHD try ADHD meds as study aids and yes, can become addicted. Maybe I'm being particularly naive though and just haven't read the same studies you've read. It would be great if some others could chime in on the addiction issue...

Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to Aloysia

I'm actually in school to become a drug counselor, I also work in that arena and see it on a daily basis. The research is out there, I do lots of reading, which was why I chose not to do the traditional meds.

Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to Aloysia

while it doesn't automatically lead to it , it is a triggering possibility.

Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to Aloysia

And because I know my own family history, this is another reason i choose to avoid those meds.

Aloysia profile image
Aloysia in reply to Determined_Momma

The article you sent me says that people with ADHD are at higher risk of addiction. That is what I said in the above thread. The article says the likelihood is that this is due to (in part) the reduced impulse control that is an inherent part of ADHD.

Maybe I misunderstood, but you seemed to claim that someone with ADHD AND taking (or having taken) ADHD meds was at increased risk of addiction.

I would argue that someone with ADHD who is taking the right ADHD meds for their body would have better impulse control (than someone with ADHD who did not have medication to help them) and therefore this would reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of addictive behavior. For example, less likely to fall to peer pressure to try drugs or alcohol.

But again, maybe I misunderstood what you were saying...

El-Eektrified profile image

my opinion… not medicating will lead to other issues later in life.

ADHD is known for its co-morbidities. Having access to a psychiatrist or a therapist can be beneficial in developing the right strategies to cope.

When I was in college I did “self-medicate” everyone smoked… but I got addicted… couldn’t sleep without… I’m not saying your son will, but having ADHD… it’s something to keep in mind.

Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to El-Eektrified

Im looking at non stimulant options

El-Eektrified profile image
El-Eektrified in reply to Determined_Momma

There are so many options, but that’s up to the medical professionals to decide!

I’ve tried almost all, and stimulants never improved much for me, till I got to the last option, which was Guanfacine. Luckily this had positive effects, but there are not many adults sharing my experience.

They do prescribe it to children and adolescents, apparently it works better in children… But it has downsides like weight gain and solomnence.

My experience… it improved my short term memory, regulates my emotions, decreases my activity level and helps me sleep.

But like I said, this is just me.. it can also have many negative effects, so let your son decide, trial and find something that works for him.

JamB11 profile image

My son had similar reactions to stimulants. He is on Fluoxetine and guanfacine (non stimulant) with much improvement. We also did a Genesight test through the psychiatrist to understand which meds may work better. More than anything I recommend “ADHD Dude”. He has been monumental in changing our life for the better.

Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to JamB11

Thank you so much for the information I will be adding these to my research of things that may help. I'm so glad that I found this group! I've been so frustrated.

BLC89 profile image

Hello Determined_Mamma

I am sorry you are going through this. Puberty + ADHD = a crazy ride for sure.

Keep in mind that most schools were designed by and for neurotypicals. I am sure you know that but sometimes we think they really can help but even the systems designed to help the different learners were not created by different learners. It can be maddening.

We did a combo of online and live school for my daughter. She could hyper focus and complete a week's worth of work in an afternoon and she could work when it was best for her. The biggest gift it gave us was her ability to sleep in during high school. Teenagers need their sleep and high schools start way too early. She took PE and band at the high school to keep in touch with friends and the rest she did online. We missed several deadlines but it was worth it in the end. She also participated in Running Start as a Jr and Sr and was able to complete a lot of her credits in those two years. One Qt of college = 1 year of high school, it's nuts. We used Laurel Springs online school and that was a good fit for us.

Another ADHDer we know is completing high school through Clonlara which is a homeschooling school. I don't know a lot about it but this kid is at a college to learn to be a horse trainer (his passion) and he can get science credit for a vet visit. And teaching a lesson can turn into an English paper. It seems hugely flexible. If your child has a passion that could be a good fit.

The other thing I constantly remind myself of is that the prefrontal cortex in ADHDers is slower to develop. And boys are generally behind in this area to begin with so I might tack on an extra year or two. You child can be emotionally 3+ years behind their physical age, so your 14 yr old is more like 10 or 11 years old emotionally. They can also be 4+ years ahead intellectually and or physically. So he may know the ins and outs of building a car engine but lose it when someone moves his wrench. If you can parent him emotionally like a younger kid that can alleviate some of your frustration. In some instances he may need more emotional hand holding that kids his age. He will catch up it will just take a bit longer than other kids.

You are doing all the right things and staying curious about options. Keep learning about medications because what you know doesn't really jive with what I have learned in my training. I know addiction is a scary family trait and ADHDers are more prone to it than the average population. Do what you feel is right but also talk to your son. He may have some ideas you haven't thought of.

Remind him he is a different thinker and his journey will not be reflected in social media or society, generally speaking. Seek out like minded people so he has his peeps, that can be huge and smooth out a lot of rough spots.

Good luck,


full disclosure I am an ADHD Parent Coach and have two grown ADHD children

Determined_Momma profile image
Determined_Momma in reply to BLC89

This was amazing!! Made me teary I appreciate your information and I will remind myself of the emotional difference, I sometimes forget that. This group has given me many things to think about.

kdali profile image

You may get more responses about Brilla if you ask about it in the posted question. I searched here and didn't find anything useful, but there are a few posts on Reddit from users. We chose a non-stim and therapy.

Rhubarb58 profile image

You are your child's best advocate. Don't worry about being a 'bad' mom. You are trying to help your son so how can that make you a bad mom?

Fourteen is a difficult age to begin with. Puberty on top of ADHD or any challenge is definitely difficult to deal with. Has he had a full reevaluation recently? 50% of people with ADHD have something else along with the ADHD. The term for this is comorbidity. An evaluation could help to reveal an additional challenge.

Have you looked into ADHD coaching? ADHD coaches can help your child, and family, communicate with each other and teach your son how to monitor his own behavior through behavior modification skills. It's not an easy ride. It takes consistency on your part to teach and encourage your child to learn the skills.

You can go to additudemag.com for lots of information and adhdadventures.net to ask specific questions and get more info. Good luck! Stick with whatever you find that works for you.

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