Four Common ADHD Medication Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

by | Jul 27, 2017 | ADHD Symptom Control | 19 comments

ADHD medicationAs an adult ADHD coach, my clients and I talk about many ways to make life with ADHD easier. When we focus on the details of their ADHD treatment, finding they are making common ADHD medication mistakes isn’t unusual.

Adults with ADHD don’t do this intentionally. Most people just don’t know what prevents ADHD meds from working correctly. A great source for accurate ADHD medication information is Dr. Charles Parker’s book ‘New ADHD Medication Rules’.

Four ADHD Medication Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

ADHD Medication Mistake #1: Drinking citrus juice. According to Dr. Parker, the acid in oranges, grapefruits, and their juices interrupts the absorption of short acting stimulant ADHD medications (you know it’s short acting if there is an SA on the bottle).

So drinking that glass of orange juice or grapefruit juice when you take your Adderall or Ritalin is a no-no. Citrus messes with the long acting medications such as Vyvance and Concerta, too, because they all start with a short acting boost to quickly kick your brain into gear.

With long acting medications you can enjoy citrus later in the day because by then the drug has moved on down to your intestines where the acid in the citrus won’t interfere.

ADHD Medication Mistake #2: Not eating breakfast. It doesn’t matter if you’re late and you don’t like to eat in the morning, you must eat something before you take your ADHD medication. Your meds will work better and you’ll get a meal in before the medication suppresses your appetite. Even a small, healthy, protein-based snack will help.

ADHD Medication Mistake #3: Not drinking enough water. Stimulant ADHD medications are dehydrating. Dehydration causes brain fog. 99% of my new coaching clients don’t drink enough water whether or not they treat their ADHD with medication. Hydrate up. If you want your brain to work it’s important. You can read about ADHD-Friendly ways to remember to drink water here.

ADHD Medication Mistake #4: Forgetting to refill your prescription. Ever experience the panic of taking your last Adderall on a Sunday morning? You need your meds to focus at work on Monday and there’s no way to get your prescription refilled in time.

The solution is simple: make a reminder in your phone to refill your prescription a week before your pills run out. Reminders will work better if you use a reminder app, like the Due App. Due doesn’t stop bugging you until you’ve done the task.

Another trick a number of my ADHD coaching clients use is to keep a couple of extra pills stashed away just for these types of emergencies. Bingo. Problem solved.

A third tip to remember to even take your pills and a visual so you see when you’re going to run out is to use a pill dispenser. You can go simple with this monthly medication organizer or high-tech with this Bluetooth electronic medication dispenser (my aunt’s favorite!).

I’m curious. Which of these common ADHD medication mistakes are you making? And what steps will you take to avoid them?

Keep learning:

Dana Rayburn is an ADHD Coach in Oregon, but don’t worry… She works by telephone helping ADHD adults all over the world live more effortlessly and successfully with ADHD.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links above and I may receive commission for purchases made through these links, but these are all products that I highly recommend and have used personally or received word from clients on their benefits for ADHD.


  1. Jackie

    (Note: I have edited this post to remove personal medical details – dr)

    When I started ADHD medication it was amazing minus the side effects (sweating, etc) because it was the first time when I could sit down a read a text book fully assimilating the material. It worked great and I achieved all As for the first time in my life. Was taking 20-30mg IR adderall sandoz generic at the time. I would also drink coffee 3/day which may have had some benefit on the academic achievement although I have always been a fan of coffee.
    Today, I am prescribed twice the dosage of adderall but usually I take no more than 40mg depending on the length of my day.
    My problem is that I can take adderall now, and feel nothing and struggle to remember a phone number much less what I am reading. I know about the vitamin C interaction and I am sleeping but I am not sure what could possibly have caused this. I feel as though a strong coffee may have more effect than adderall these days. I am not sure it is tolerance as I do take days off and as I said, I vary the dosage depending on my day generally taking it only when I am about to study.
    I keep wondering if there are other Foods – fiber, protein, etc – that make the drug seem somewhat ineffective? I’m desperate because the clarity of my thinking is markedly diminished and I would give anything to have it back and to become fully immersed in my books with recollection of the things I have read.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Jackie, I’m don’t know why the medication is no longer working beyond making sure you are getting enough sleep, drinking water, eating healthy meals, exercising, and other basic self-care. Please check with your doctor to see if you’re on the right dose of the right medication, and don’t change the dose without medical guidance. Good luck! Dana

  2. Hunter Darner

    Are there any instant ADHD meds that I can take along with Vyvanse?

    • Dana Rayburn

      Check with your doctor to find out. Dana

  3. Jessie

    On Adderall for a 3 week trial, First 15mg xr or one week and now have Increased my dose to 20mg xr for the past 2 days. My side effects have included drymouth, Major distraction/forgetfulness, zoning out, suppressed appetite. 2nd day on 20mg Diarrhea/dizziness.
    Is this normal? It’s only been 9 days, is this an adjustment period or just not working?
    Only upside I’ve noticed is my anxiety has depleted, and I have a bit more energy. I’m not noticing any additional benifits. And don’t know if I should be at this point.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Jessie, What’s your doctor say? Better check. Good luck! Dana

  4. Tiff

    Question: I am a 48-year-old woman, lucky enough to have an interesting job, so I don’t feel I need to take my Vyvanse prescription daily. I prefer to take it only on days when I have boring meetings or larger amounts of (dry) reading or paperwork. Once or twice per week.
    My doctor says that if I’m not taking it daily, and I ask for refills only periodically, that will raise red flags for… whoever monitors the prescribing of controlled substances.
    Do I need a new doctor? Or is she right?
    I just do not want to be unnecessarily subjected to side effects, tolerance, and dependence.
    Thank you.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Tiff, Gosh, I really don’t know if your plan will raise the red flags or not. Sorry to not be more help! Dana

  5. jacob

    Hello, im a highschool senior and got perscribed adderall SA for the first time, and its been 3 days now. The problem is that i dont feel , nor have i felt side ffects. Its as if im not even taking adderall almost. I feel that i may have felt something a little, but i worry that its a placebo effect of me taking the pill. Its a 20 mg dose, so i feel starting off at a strong 20 mg should have had some effect, but i feel its barely making a difference. Is it normal to simply not feel any effect, positive or negative?

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Jacob, Talk to your doctor. You may just need a higher dose. Good luck! Dana

  6. Kelly

    Hello, I was just prescribed Adderall for my Adult ADD. I’m on the second day. 40 mg IR. I’m desperate to start a household task and complete it. I have a job and am very successful. I struggle with ADD at work but am able to hide it some. My main issue is being totally overwhelmed by simple household chores. When I come home from work I have no focus, energy or drive to be a wife and cook, do chores etc. I also suffer from Major Deppresive Disorder. Simple household chores make me want to get in bed and I struggle with getting out. Yesterday and today I have been walking in circles around my house in an attempt to accomplish something. I was taking Wellbutrin (450 mg) and when I started the adderall reduced my dosage to 300mg. Stopped the starttera immediately. The adderall has changed my mood. I’ve felt happy yesterday and today. Calm, my anxiety is way better. No jitters or anything. My husband and I are going through a very stressful time with his overall mental health. Is my expectation that adderall should work immedialtely unrealistic. Could the other factors be affecting my focus even with the drug? How long do I need to wait to see if this is working for me.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Kelly, I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling. The right dose of a shorter-acting Adderall should work immediately. It may taper off after a few days and the dose may need to be increased until you reach a level where it stays consistent. With the depression and other medications, things get more complicated. Talk to your doctor. Wishing you all the best, Dana

  7. Deborah

    Can you please explain why eating breakfast helps make Vyvanse work better?

    • Dana Rayburn

      Great question, Deborah. In my understanding, eating produces the amino acids that create the neurotransmitters (mostly dopamine and neuropreneprine) that the Vyvanse needs to work. Also, like some supplements and medications, eating first just feels better. If anyone knows differently, please post here and let us know!

  8. Heather

    I started taking Vyvanse about a month ago. I started with 20mg and have increased to 30mg per day. I saw a slight difference in motivation, an increase a mood, and no anxiety. But I am finding with both dosages after about 6 hours I crash. Is this a wrong dosage? Should I be increasing?
    Also because of the appetite suppression, to start off my day I drink a boost with protein shake and I find that really helps. But I still crash after 6 hours which ends up being in the middle of my workday. Is there anything else I can be doing to lengthen the effects of medication?

    • Dana Rayburn

      Heather, talk to your doctor. That’s not normal. Perhaps a different medication is needed.

  9. Chris

    Hello, I’ve been titrating my adderall dosage up by 5mg every 5 days. I’m at 15mg now, second day. Feel a bit amped and several symptoms are being treated well. But I still occasionally space out during lectures. Even good ones. Is it reasonable to expect to never space out on medication? I usually notice it pretty quickly and come back, so that’s an improvement. I just don’t know if I should keep totrating up to 20mg if it’s never going to make me completely attentive. Thank you.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hey Chris, Are you working with your doctor on increasing your dose? Increasing every 5 days may be too quick. Especially if you’re feeling amped. The right dose, you feel like you – just more able to hit the symptoms you want to treat. There may be other things that cause you to space out even at the best dose. Not enough sleep or certain foods or distractions. The meds help most people, yet they aren’t perfect. Especially if there are other factors at play. (Example, I know that if I eat dairy or sugar I will be spacier for a few hours.) Good luck, Dana

      • Chris

        Thanks for responding, Dana. I thought that seemed like a fast titration schedule, too, but yes, doctor’s order. And now I’ve been hanging at 10mg and I’m wondering if now I actually need to try 15mg again because I don’t feel as focused as I did at first. This is a lot to figure out! Really appreciate all your info.


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