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Stimulant Medications: A Trade-off? The Lived Experience of Adolescents With ADHD


  • Julie B. Meaux, PhD, RNC, is Associate Professor, Nursing, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR; Carla Hester, MNSc, RNC, is a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Clinical Services, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR; Billy Smith, PhD, is Professor, Psychology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR; and Amy Shoptaw, BS, is a Research Assistant, Psychology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR.

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PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was to gain information and insight about prescription stimulant medication use among children and adolescents with attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) across developmental stages.

DESIGN AND METHODS. Investigators conducted semistructured qualitative interviews with 15 college students with ADHD. Follow-up interviews confirmed and validated information obtained during initial interviews.

RESULTS. Qualitative data analysis resulted in three global categories related to the use of prescription stimulant medication from childhood to late adolescence: (a) the early years, (b) “the trade-off,” and (c) stimulant medications in college.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS. Increased education about prescription stimulant medications and closer management is needed to reduce side effects and minimize the risks of misuse.