ADHD Couples: When Your ADHD Partner Refuses Meds

Medication can be an important part of a multimodal treatment for ADHD. Medication does not work for all people affected by ADHD but it does work for about 70% – 80% of them. Regardless of how effective medication for ADHD can be there are reasons why some people don’t want to take them. In their mind since it only effects them it should be their personal choice.

But what if the person affected by ADHD is a part of a couple or even a couple with children. Is taking medication just a personal choice? Should other members of the family or couple have input?

Some people affected by ADHD of whom medication works but refuse to take medication do so for many different reasons including:

  • Worry the medication changes their personality.
  • Worry the medication will affect their libido.
  • Worry that stimulants are dangerous.
  • Worry that stimulants are addictive.
  • Worry about side effects of stimulants.
  • Worry because where they work does/or could do drug testing.
  • Doesn’t believe in taking medication for “mental issues.”
  • Doesn’t believe in taking medication at all.
  • Believes there are natural remedies that work just as well.
  • Believe diet can solve their ADHD symptoms.
  • Don’t really believe they have ADHD or if they do that it doesn’t affect things.

This is by no means all the reasons but gives insight into the types of issues that cause many whom medication works for not to take medication for their ADHD symptoms.

Now here is the key issue. These people affected by ADHD are not living in isolation. They are living with others as part of at least a couple if not with kids also. So does this fact make any difference in their decision making about whether or not to take ADHD medication?

I would argue yes. When you are part of a team your actions affect the team. If you are playing first base in a baseball game it is pretty important to pay attention. If you were having trouble doing that and you had a way of improving your ability to focus it would not only effect you but your team’s success.

Often people affected by ADHD don’t think about how refusing to take meds (if they ¬†work for them) makes a difference for others in the family. It could save a marriage. Prevent disappointed kids. You get the idea.

So if your partner refuses to try and even see if ADHD meds would work for them, explain how their actions or lack of actions make a difference in your relationship. Give concrete specific examples. And if you all already know ADHD meds work for them try to find out what is at the core of why they won’t take the meds and share the results of them not taking the meds. Find a compromise. Maybe they take the stimulants on the weekends? Who knows but it is worth it to reopen the discussion when your ADHD partner refuses meds.

Abigail Wurf, M.Ed, CLC

ADHD and Executive Functions Coach

Abigail Wurf works with adults, couples and parents affected by ADHD or executive function issues (see definition below) in a coaching and/or consulting capacities. Her clientele also includes college and graduate students struggling to make it through their programs.

She conducts workshops and speaking presentations on executive function issues such as productivity, planning, prioritizing, goal setting, time management, task initiation, emotional regulation, focus, meta-cognition, working memory, self inhibition and flexibility/shift.

Abigail’s work also includes presentations on ADHD, specific executive functions or theories of executive functions, invisible disabilities, resiliency and motivation.