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Three general classes of FDA-approved medication exist for treating ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive disorder) subtypes. These include stimulants, norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRIs) and the suspected alpha-2 adrenergic agonist clonidine.
Stimulants such as Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) and Dextrostat (amphetamine sulfate) are used to increase concentration. These drugs work by increasing release of norepinephrine, a catecholamine vital to concentration. Desoxyn (methamphetamine) is used rarely, and affects dopamine (reward) receptor more than amphetamine. Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant similar to the aforementioned drugs, and blocks both reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine and enhances their release.
Straterra (atomoxetine) is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It has no addictive potential and is offered as non-controlled alternative for ADHD. Clonidine is a recent addition to the ADHD arsenal, and works by blocking the potentially stimulating norepinephrine. Due to possible sedation, it is often taken in the evening.
The most effective medication should be discovered through guided therapy, or trial and error. Certain subtypes of ADHD may respond better to stimulants (inattentive) and others to clonidine (impulsive and oppositional behavior).