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Expert Advice Series

“Medication holidays” are often used by parents for children taking stimulant medications for ADD or ADHD. A medication holiday is when a child is taken off their medication for a specific amount of time, like the weekend or during the holidays. Often times, parents choose to take their child off of the medication to have their child’s appetite return if the medication reduced their appetite. Medication holidays are common during the summer months when children are out of school as well as during holidays.

 Question: What are your thoughts on ‘medication holidays?’ We have a lot of children that come to summer camp who are taking a break from their ADD medication (Military Service Provider).

Advice: Stimulant medicine is intended to help with concentration for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); however it also causes a child to have a reduced appetite. If the child is not doing something that needs their concentration, then they can be off of the medication. Being off of ADHD/ADD medication increases the child’s appetite and since children are constantly growing, they need the nutrients from their food to aid in growth. There is a caveat however against allowing teens to have medication holidays if they’re old enough to drive. Being off of the medication decreases their ability to concentrate, resulting in distraction while driving.

Expert: Brian Dixon, M.D., Executive Director of Progressive Psychiatry, P.A. and Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

For more advice from Dr. Dixon, watch and listen to his professional development training on ADHD, Anxiety, and Autism: Practical Approaches to Child Psychiatry to learn about practical ways parents and caregivers can help manage these disorders, while reconnecting with the fun of parenting.

How do you feel about medication holidays? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section. Have a question for our military caregiving team? Let us know! Stay tuned for more from our Expert Advice series.

The new blog series provides monthly advice from subject matter experts on issues surrounding military caregiving for service providers and families. We take questions and concerns from military helping professionals and families and provide the necessary feedback from credible experts in the field of study. Whether you are a provider or a caregiver, what questions do you have? We want to hear from you.


This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on June 3, 2016.