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Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2013 Aug;24(2):391-405, viii.

Pharmacotherapy of inattention and ADHD in adolescents.

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University of California, San Francisco, USA.


This article reviews the current use of stimulants in adolescents. The evidence base for treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescents is meager compared with that of ADHD in children, and much recent research of older populations with ADHD has been directed toward adults rather than adolescents. The structure of psychosocial treatment of ADHD differs across developmental ranges. For example, in children, treatment of ADHD uses direct behavior modification via parents and teachers. Treatment approaches then change toward contracting in adolescents (acknowledging the emerging independence common at this age) and toward self-management and coaching in adults. Medication for ADHD, however, does not substantially differ across developmental epochs. In supplementation of data, specifically on adolescence, much of our understanding of treating adolescents comes from upward or downward extension of the child and adult data. Symptomatic treatment (treatment for inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsive behavior) has always been a parallel approach to diagnostic and developmentally specific selection of treatment based on an incomplete literature. In recognition, this article assumes that inference from children or adults to adolescents, in the absence of adolescent-specific data, is commonplace and often confirmed with clinical experience. Such inferences, in the face of literature gaps, in no way obviate the need for continued research focused on adolescence.

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