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Aust Fam Physician. 2004 Aug;33(8):615-8.

When the child with ADHD grows up.

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Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.



There is significant controversy surrounding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While the existence of this disorder is generally accepted, debate continues in relation to aspects of assessment, as well as the effectiveness and choice of treatment options and their continuation into adult life. Management is further complicated as people with ADHD often have chaotic lives which impedes medication compliance and motivation to continue treatment vacillates. Concern also exists over the misuse of amphetamine-like medications by some patients.


This case study does not provide comprehensive information on current diagnosis and ADHD treatment guidelines, but explores the issues and management role of general practitioners treating patients with ADHD.


The diagnosis of ADHD is common, and many patients are managed using a range of social and behavioural interventions that are commonly combined with pharmacotherapies (provided in the main by psychiatrists and paediatricians). However, while specialists may appropriately choose not to treat where a diagnosis is unclear, or discontinue treatment for reasons such as doubtful response to treatment, possible medication misuse, concurrent illicit drug use or poor motivation, GPs frequently continue to manage ongoing care and the impact of ADHD on the rest of the family. When the specialist formulation suggests there is little to gain from further treatment, the GP is likely to be the sole health professional remaining engaged in support and ongoing management.

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