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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Does Caffeine affect Adderall?

06/14/2000

Question:

Hi, my son is on adderall and I would like to know if caffeine has any affect on how the medication works? is it working against the medicine?

Answer:

I know of no good studies on this topic so I will answer you from my experience only. Yes, caffeine affects all stimulants. Caffeine is a stimulant itself. Unfortunately, although it has some qualities that help ADD, it is nowhere near as helpful as the stimulants we prescribe for ADD, and different coffees or teas have variable `doses`. In addition, stimulants all have many similar potential side effects, and caffeine has a few extra like stomach ulcers and diarrhea. Many people find that they have to be very careful about the amount of caffeine they use when on stimulant medication. At The Affinity Center we encourage everyone who is first going on to stimulants, changing their dosage, or changing their specific medication, to stay off caffeine while we help them find the right dose. We also encourage everyone on stimulants to try to stay off all caffeine after that. However, if they do not, at least to be aware of any negative effects it gives them. The main concerns are sleep problems and anxiety, so watch for those. Although sleep problems or anxiety are sometimes a side effect of stimulant medications, I have many patients who sleep fine on their medication unless they have caffeine after 3 or 4 p.m. or who feel their anxiety is quite managable unless they have two cups of coffee in the morning. On the other hand, I have many adolescent patients who insist that the coke they drink for lunch never gives them bad side effects, and who would not think of having their fries without it. One has to decide for one`s self.

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati