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Should You Take Adult ADHD Medication Vacations?

July 15, 2013 Elizabeth Prager

I wrote once about an "impromptu" adult ADHD medication holiday that I accidentally took and how that worked out (lots of coffee!). Now, I'd like to talk about taking ADHD medication vacations on purpose and whether or not I think they're good ideas.

Are Adult ADHD Medication Vacations A Good Idea?

No. That's my simple answer. I am adamantly against medication holidays for those of us with Adult ADHD who are successful while taking adult ADHD drugs. I suppose, though, that a more complicated and correct answer would need to take into account the reasons for taking the medication in the first place.

For some with Adult ADHD, medication provides the boost needed to complete necessary and work-related tasks. Those individuals need the medication Monday through Friday (or however your work schedule is designed) to be successful. Possibly these individuals are those ADHD'ers who thrive in a less structured setting and find that the structure of work exacerbates their adult ADHD symptoms. They will have weekends that are easier to navigate without medications.

For my type of ADHD, I do not do well without structure. I find that knowing when I must do X and Y allows me the ability to function better and weekends often provide very little along the lines of structure. For me to live without medication on a Saturday would mean not just a weekend day where I do very little, but it will also mean a weekend day where I feel very low. It's not fun to feel unable to enjoy activities of daily living, so I think taking a medication holiday for those of you like me who need our rigid structure will not be helpful.

Adult ADHD Medication Vacations and How ADHD Affects You

From my experience with medical professionals, it seems like they mostly push for ADHD medication holidays on weekends and on actual holidays. I think it's important to dig into your psyche and to discover whether your ADHD is more situation-based or more pervasive. Does your ADHD affect work-life, school-life and washing the dishes? Or,does it mostly affect work or school or single aspects of your life? If your diagnosis falls more into the former, you might find medication holidays to be more challenging and not something to fit into your life. Seems to me like whether or not to take a medication holiday relies heavily on how heavily your ADHD affects your life.

Have you all tried out taking ADHD medication holidays? How have they worked for you?

APA Reference
Prager, E. (2013, July 15). Should You Take Adult ADHD Medication Vacations?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingwithadultadhd/2013/07/adult-adhd-medication-vacations



Author: Elizabeth Prager

Bb
April, 18 2017 at 7:44 am

I'm 29 and have been on meds since I was 8. I took vacations from my meds all summer until my junior year in college. It was my work performance during the previous summer that made me realize I needed the meds. I was a terrible employee and lifeguard, and even some social situations were difficult to navigate off my meds (i was largely unaware of socially inappropriate behaviors until someone pointed it out). I long for the days when drug vacations were possible, but as an adult they are not if you actually need to work and be productive. Now the only time I can really take a vacation is when I'm on a real vacation, like at the beach.

Sarah Mathews
June, 22 2016 at 9:05 am

I've been on 10mg IR for a month. I am about to go in for my first check-in since being on it. I love love love it but I'm having a hard time figuring out the best dosage. I have already figured out that I HAVE to do regular vacations, or more like partial ones where I only take 5mg in the morning, skip the second dose and do 5mg at some point later in the day (I get pretty bummed out if I don't take it at all). If I don't take vacations, it plainly doesn't seem to work at all even if I take a higher dose. I have almost entirely inattentive ADHD, there's nothing hyper about me, I'm actually quite sluggish. I also have dysthymia. I think they're related, the way I explained it to my psych was "I can't pay attention to anything because everything is boring." Adderall fixes all of that but only when I take breaks from it. But I'd never just skip it all together on the weekend. My work-time isn't the only thing that matters in life, I do things every day (when I have the motivation and focus to that is). My roommate skips hers on the weekends because she says it makes her emotionally robotic and she claims that she is unable to empathize. Were very different people.
If you take adderall when you're tired, are you still tired? Because I am. A teeeeenie tiny amount of caffeine fixes that though. But I have noticed that Adderall is alot more subtle than I thought it was going to be (a good thing).

Elizabeth Prager
July, 17 2013 at 4:27 am

Thanks for the comment, Lynne!
It's a tough question - whether to start taking your meds again once the fall semester starts. I figure, with the help of your doctor, see how the semester starts off and take it from there!
Hope you have a good summer.

Lynne
July, 16 2013 at 8:04 am

Wow...I cannot believe how timely this article is for me. I take Adderall XR once per day after talking to my doctor a few years ago about my sudden lack of motivation and interest in most aspects of my life. I now actually wonder if this was due to the onset on perimenopause, but am not sure. I teach at the college-level, so I am very busy from August-May and usually teach 1-2 summer courses along with helping my husband run his business. This summer, I decided not to teach and my husband sold his business, so I decided to enjoy some free time and do home projects and some hobbies. This did not go well for about 6 weeks. I was moody, aggressive, and not productive. I tried incorporating my own schedule, but it did not help. I finally followed my instincts and stopped taking the Adderall XR cold-turkey. I had two days of feeling very tired, but now I feel like my old self. Interested, calm, happy....Now I wonder if I should consider that I might need to take it again once the fall semester starts?

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