Focalin: Medication for ADHD

Sold under the name Focalin, dexmethylphenidate is a medication that treats ADD/ADHD.  Most experts believe that this particular drug works because it restores the balance of specific natural substances — called neurotransmitters — in the brain.

If you are currently taking this drug then you know that it helps your ability to pay attention, stay focused on the activity at hand and control certain, perhaps unacceptable behavioral problems.

For some individuals the use of Focalin also helps improve listening skills, stops some individuals with the symptoms of fidgeting from doing so and actually allows many people to improve their organizational ability.

Most physicians instruct their patients to take this medication orally.  It doesn’t matter whether you take it with a meal or not.  And for most individuals, you’ll be taking this twice a day.  More than likely your physician will tell you to take the first dose as soon as you wake up.  Your second dose will be approximately 4 hours later or as instructed by your doctor based on your particular situation.

Of course, many variables go into discovering the most effective dosage for you, but for many individuals that dosage appears to be about 20 mg.

Notice that Focalin is a type of medicine called dexmethylphenidate.  This specific chemical should not be confused with the chemical which is sold as Ritalin, methylphenidate.  Focalin is actually derived from methylphenidate, so they are related. That said, the dosing is quite different and it’s important to remember not to exchange products without the consent and knowledge of your physician.

Usually, the initial dose of Focalin — for those individuals not currently taking methylphenidate — is 5 mg daily.  If you are currently taking methylphenidate, then the initial dosage for this medication is half of your methylphenidate dose.

In either scenario, the total daily dose of Focalin should be divided into two dosages taken at least 4 hours apart.

Don’t be surprised though, if your physician adjusts this dosage as time goes on.  He may actually increase your Focalin by 2.5 mg or even 5 mg until you reach the maximum dosage of 20 mg in a day (taken at two separate times throughout the day).  Adjustments to this medication are usually made on a weekly interval.
In fact, Focalin can be bought in doses of 2.5 mg, 5 mg. and 10 mg.  It goes to work quickly in your system — within 30 to 60 minutes.  Many individuals prefer to use this in the evening, once the day long-acting version of their ADD/ADHD medication has already tapered off.

Side Effects of Focalin

The most common side effects of this ADD/ADHD medication include, stomach pain (some 15 percent of individuals on this medication complained of this), nausea (found to bother about nine percent of those taking it), loss of appetite (which affected only six percent of individuals) and insomnia.

This specific medication has also been known to cause a temporary slowing of growth in children who use it (in approximately 2-3% of children).  The difference in growth is very small and given time, children usually catch up to their peers within normal time limits.

Talk with your physician if you believe Focalin may be able to help your ADD/ADHD symptoms.

Please share any thoughts, comments or experiences below.

Dr. Kenny

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  1. my daughter who is 8 years old has been taking 15 mg XR at 7am and 10 mg XR at 12 pm. daily for the last two years. I feel that her body has adjusted to the dose and is not responding anymore. The behaviors of defiance, disorganizational, fidgeting, talking out of turn and yelling had ceased and now are returning. Her Dr. has tried concerta, and adderall and each one gave stomach iritation and insomnia. Is there any other option since I do not see any success with the focalin.

    • Rolinda – You can ask your doctor about dosage adjustment, and whether that is an option. Even though she has tried Adderall, it is possible that she may have a different response to the Vyvanse, because of its different release mechanism.

  2. Am I to understand that this is taken along with other daytime ADHD medications?
    I am on a high dosage of ritilan sr and am afraid I may have problems with my insurance covering the ritilan in such a high dose as it is more than the recommended maximum.(I have the best symptom control and clear concentration at about 80 to 100 mg. of Ritilan SR per day.) I am on state Medicaid. My doctor originally wanted me on Concerta but my insurance wouldn’t pay for it without trying the generics first……
    Could this help lower my dosage to insure insurance coverage?

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