In the short run, children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder benefit from drug therapy, researchers say. They do much better than kids treated with talk therapy alone or routine medical care. In the long run — more than two years — ADHD drugs lose effectiveness. And kids who take the drugs for three years or more end up shorter than those who quit earlier. Some scientists accuse others of downplaying the long-term trend, reports the Washington Post:
One principal scientist in the study, psychologist William Pelham, said that the most obvious interpretation of the data is that the medications are useful in the short term but ineffective over longer periods but added that his colleagues had repeatedly sought to explain away evidence that challenged the long-term usefulness of medication. When their explanations failed to hold up, they reached for new ones, Pelham said.
. . . Pelham, who has conducted many drug therapy studies, said the drugs have a valuable role: They buy parents and clinicians time to teach youngsters behavioral strategies to combat inattention and hyperactivity. Over the long term, he said, parents need to rely on those skills.
Nearly all parents will try behavioral strategies — if they’re offered before the family doctor suggests drugs, Pelham said. If drugs are offered first, most parents won’t go on to try behavioral approaches.