View Full Version : Do you ever do a break from meds for your child?

07-12-09, 12:07 PM
Today there just seems to be no real reason to give ds his Focalin. The doctor said many people take breaks from it when kids are not in school. He has been taking it for a week.


Lady Lark
07-12-09, 01:05 PM
We don't, but that's because his behavior is such that he needs it, even out of school. I do know that many parents do though.

07-12-09, 07:47 PM
Today there just seems to be no real reason to give ds his Focalin. The doctor said many people take breaks from it when kids are not in school. He has been taking it for a week.


I'm curious as to what you mean by "there is no reason reason to give him his medication today"- particularly after only one week.

There are, in fact several great reasons. But let's look it over a bit:

It's possible that you mean his behavior seems better today than it has been (more probably his behavior seems better the last week, and you are hoping all will be well now). As you know, children (anyone really) with ADHD has days that are better and days that are worse, but most importantly inconsistency throughout the day is a hallmark of the disorder. A strong start easily turns into a weak finish.

It is also possible that you mean it's Sunday- no school. However, your son deals with ADHD every single day- not just when there is no school. While certain symptoms become much more obvious when school is in session- they are still always present. That means interpersonal relationships with peers are substantially affected, family home life is affected (not that you need to be told that!), and the constant struggle with restlessness, hyperactivity, etc. is physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Your son deserves to be free of those feelings- or at least as much as is possible with medication.

There are a few other short and long-term concerns to take in to consideration. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that you aren't a big fan of your child being on medication (maybe I'm wrong, however). Taking children on and off of medication "when they don't need it" can send a powerful message that there's something wrong with taking that medication.

One of the biggest hurdles to long-term treatment for folks with ADHD is their tendency to stop taking their medication eventually. This, of course, leads to a far less stable existence and makes it even harder to jump through all of the hoops necessary to get the medication. Teenagers can be the worst about this- you want your son to understand the value of consistently taking their medication and of the higher quality of life he has on it. If your son eventually does go off of medication, no amount of that decision should boil down to an impression that it is wrong to be treated- that's a bad standard.

Also, your son has just begun the medication, which means his body is still ironing out side-effects, and you and your doctor are still making decisions about proper dosing. Taking him off of medication and putting him back on constantly will greatly extend the amount of time it takes for his body to adjust to the side-effects, and it'll make it far more difficult to make accurate decisions about the efficacy of his dose (especially since it'll risk making side effects look worse than they are). It's probably in his best interest if he stays on the medication consistently- at least until he's over the side effects and an ideal dose has been determined.

Just my two cents!

07-12-09, 08:36 PM
Here are some thoughts....

I started my son on vyvance during the summer because I wanted to see how he might possibly behave during school. He has never taken medication before and I didn't think I could rely on the teacher's observations accurately.

It was also a good time to start routines. Once school started, I didn't want the push and pull drama of starting meds in the mix of a brand new school year. It also concerned me how the medication he wasn't used to would affect him with the stress of a new school environment.

I wanted to tweak any changes to his medication when the environment was easy for me to observe his behavior. There were many.... for almost an entire year before we found just the right dossage and additional meds to address other issues.

Maybe during the summer while he's on meds, you could work on a school type activity (puzzle, reading, math problems) and observe if it makes a difference with school stuff he already knows. This will also give you a good way to help the teacher with things you tried at home that works (or tell if she/he is the type of teacher who only knows one way or it's the highway).

My son is now 16, and I've given him the leeway this summer to decide when to take the meds or not. He sometimes prefers to skip when he wakes up in the afternoon or when he isn't planning on doing something tedious. He seems to never forget when school starts (though he'll forget to eat).

07-13-09, 05:32 AM
Thanks everyone. We started his medication in the summer for the same reasons Justess states above. Yesterday, though, there was not going to be any chance for him to read, do school worksheets, etc. The rebound effect we are seeing is a bumpy one for him and we were going to friends' for a BBQ and swimming right when the medication was going to wear off so we decided to skip it altogether.

KDLMaj, I completely agree with your post. For us, a one day break seemed ok - I guess I also wanted to compare things a bit. We are not talking a long-term break (today he takes the medication again). I guess with our planned activities, we felt that the rebound effect is worse than when he does not take it at all. His behavior is manageable without it (his troubles occur mostly with focusing on schoolwork and reading).

I appreciate all of the insight. I am glad we started before school begins. I am hoping the rebound effect improves over time because right now, it is almost better to not have him on anything than to experience the bumpy crash landing we see with the medication (some days worse than others though).


07-13-09, 02:05 PM
It helps him in other ways besides focusing, schoolwork and reading. Helps with impulse control, frustration tolerance, taking turns, etc. Not that I necessarily dissagree with med holidays. Just something else to look for.

07-26-09, 08:42 PM
We began medication in May. Our pediatrician said that he should take it every day, even weekends, especially when just starting. After kids are established, he has no problem with them not taking the meds during times like spring break or summer, unless they are going to be engaging in activities where they need benefits. We kept him on the medication during summer camp, in large part because it allows him to interact more with the other children. My son is done with camp for the summer, so his pediatrician thought it would fine for him to be off the meds during that time, and just take it on the days we want him to do something (we have some workbooks and his OT wants him to keep a journal).

The rebound effect is an issue, so I can see why on that particular day the timing just wasn't good.

08-09-09, 11:57 PM
My 11 yo has been off meds since school finished. Its been great actually. We had an up and down school year with two different meds (after starting a new school last Sept which he resisted to the max!). Strattera until Christmas, then stopped that due to various undesireable side effects. Adderall since January, but it did give him rebound, slightly reduced appetite (not nearly as bad as the Strattera which killed it completely) and it was hard to fall asleep at night.

Adderall had several benefits, it definitely helped him concentrate at school and "stabilized" or normalized his behaviour in and out of school.

With the summer here, and off meds, our goal has been stress reduction and healthy living. We have done no school work or any kind of practice work (e.g. multiplication tables or spelling etc....which he could probably use!) and have tried to relax, eat well and get enough sleep and some exercise.

All this has helped. The behaviour is still there, motor mouth and runaway thoughts and other stuff...but this summer, anxiety is greatly reduced as he is settled in his school and doesn't have the terrible worries and resistance like last summer.

Anxiety = stress. And I think stress = worsened ADHD.

So, the lack of meds hasn't impacted him in any significant way and we are glad to have had this holiday. I do believe he was starting to build some tolerance to Adderall so if and when we start up again, we can start from a low, low dose, I would think.

Come September we will make that decision. I have to say, that with every passing year he does become more mature and that certainly helps.

I think drug holidays can be a very good thing. You monitor your kids both on and off drugs and see what works. Its a day-to-day thing.