How to better remember your ADHD meds - creative tips (& nerd bonus: easily understand research)
Updated: Jun 5, 2022
Do you take ADHD medication and have trouble remembering to take it regularly? Welcome to the club. Here you'll get my practical top tips for not forgetting (or at least remembering more often) to take your ADHD meds.
A current research study compared the work performance of adults with ADHD who diligently took their meds with those who did not. Here is what they found: those with sloppy medication use missed work significantly more often.
Unfortunately, the authors don't tell us how to better remember to take our medications if we tend to forget. But that's not really their job anyway. So let me contribute a few creative tips.
Plus, I'll use the study as an example, so you'll easily understand research findings.
ADHD-friendly tips to remember to take your medication
Don't be too vain to use a meds dispenser (this dispenser is my favorite, and no, I'm not getting any commission from them, I just find it the most ADHD friendly with the bright colors) and pre-fill it for the whole week (I do this on Sunday nights)
Put a post-it reminder on your coffee machine or anything else you will invariably touch in the morning before you leave the house
If your mind is sharper in the evening than in the morning, put out your coffee cup at night and stick the meds in there or even put them next to your bed with some water
Use phone reminders
If you need to take meds during the day on the go, attach your pillbox to your key chain or anything else you cannot leave the house without
If you are blessed with a neurotypical in your household and they have the patience of a saint, maybe they can help you remember your meds. Make sure to reward them with one of your ADHD superpowers (creativity, humor, zest, etc.)
The coolest hack I've ever heard comes from the legendary Jessica McCabe (How to ADHD - a superb YouTube channel about ADHD) - she has a service dog named Chloe who helps her remember her meds
Personally, I need a combination of the above hacks to make it work (and would love to have a companion like Chloe or a neurotypical with the patience of a saint in my life, but neither have appeared on my doorstep so far).
And remember that as people with ADHD, we're consistently inconsistent, so it's normal that we'll fall off track once in a while. This post will help you cope.
If you have ADHD hacks that help remember your meds you would be willing to share with the community, please comment below or if you don't want to "out" yourself, please drop me a line and I will add your hack to the list above while protecting your identity.
research question: Does taking your ADHD medication increase your work performance? The study says: maybe
According to a recent study (reference below), people with ADHD with unreliable medication use are more likely to miss work than those who take their meds diligently. Forgetting medication and missing work go hand in hand with ADHD.
It's not really surprising that adults with ADHD who don't take their ADHD meds regularly end up missing work more often than those that take them as prescribed. Nor does the reason for not taking the meds seem like rocket science.
Forgetfulness main reason for missed meds
The most common reason the participants cited for missing their meds is forgetfulness, one of the prominent symptoms of ADHD. Further reasons were long-term concerns, logistics, and beliefs.
Nerd bonus about research: understanding correlation versus causation
What conclusions can we draw from this study? Not that many. The study tells us about a statistically significant correlation, but it doesn't tell us anything about causation.
We don't know if the meds cause better work attendance.
Or if less forgetful people are better at taking their meds and not missing work.
Or if higher symptom levels make it harder to diligently take the meds and be able to go to work.
Or if it's way more complicated than that.
So we can't say whether taking the ADHD medication itself directly improves work performance.
This is often the case in research (that we have correlation but no idea about the causation), yet this often gets lost when the media (or bloggers or anyone else for that matter) report on the findings.
Spalding W, Farahbakhshian S, Maculaitis MC, Peck EY, Goren A. The Association of Oral Stimulant Medication Adherence with Work Productivity among Adults with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders. June 2021.
doi: 10.1177/10870547211020113 Link
This is a single study of 602 participants in the US. As you remember from this post on how to interpret research studies: As long as we only have individual studies, take them with a grain of salt. The more studies point in the same direction, the more solid the evidence.