What is the Connection Between Caffeine and ADD?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill
An energy drink may contain caffeine.
An energy drink may contain caffeine.

Caffeine and attention deficit disorder (ADD) are linked because caffeine and caffeinated foods or drinks have been used as potential treatment options for the condition. There are some who do not advocate its use for this purpose, but those who have mild to moderate cases of ADD may experience increased mental clarity and better focus when consuming caffeine. Patients should not combine caffeine and ADD medications without the instruction of their doctors.

Children should not drink an excessive amount of caffeinated soda.
Children should not drink an excessive amount of caffeinated soda.

There are many studies which show that use of caffeine and ADD symptoms are linked, and many patients who didn’t realize they had the condition have reported using caffeine to alleviate symptoms of poor concentration and lack of motivation. It is not generally as effective as prescription medications, and it may not be a good treatment option for some individuals. Although caffeine does help to improve cognitive function, the results only last for a few hours and the side effects are extreme in certain patients.

Results may be improved when using both caffeine and ADD medications. This should only be done under the direct supervision of a trained health care professional. Caffeine intake should be limited since it is a stimulant and can raise the risk for certain health complications in some individuals or when it is taken in excess. Those with heart irregularities should consult a physician before consuming caffeine.

Potential drawbacks when using caffeine are side effects like tremors, insomnia, rapid heart rate, hot flashes, and a drastic decrease in mental clarity once the effects have worn off. Caffeine and ADD treatment methods are not suitable for everyone and each individual may react differently to each therapy. If troubling symptoms occur when using caffeine or any other treatment option, a doctor should be consulted.

Caffeine can be found in many common foods and drinks. Coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda all contain high doses of the substance. If troublesome side effects occur, these foods should be limited. It is not recommended that caffeine be consumed via soda or chocolate multiple times per day, as this can lead to weight gain and other unhealthy side effects. Coffee and tea are best served without cream and sugar to cut down on calories. Caffeine can be taken in pill or capsule form, but this should be done with medical supervision and never in doses higher than recommended.

Discussion Comments


Caffeine has been helping with my attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder symptoms. I feel more focused when I drink caffeine and I can work for a long time without taking frequent breaks.

There is a dose limit for caffeine when it comes to ADD though. I know that if I have too much, it either has the opposite effect and makes me sleepy or it makes me anxious. So I avoid energy drinks and coffee and stick to black tea which has less caffeine. I sip on tea most of the day to keep my focus.


@literally45-- Some parents don't want to give their kids ADD medication due to side effects. Caffeine seems like a safer alternative with less side effects.

My daughter has ADD and I asked her doctor about giving her moderate amounts of caffeine. Her doctor advised against it and said that caffeine is not any different from a stimulant drug.

Caffeine seems safe, but it's also a medication and affects how the mind functions. And children are much more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than adults. So you are right, it's not a good idea to give children caffeine instead of attention deficit disorder medication.


I've heard that some parents give their children coffee to help with the child's attention deficit disorder symptoms. Is this a good idea? Caffeine is addictive and has side effects. Isn't it better to stick to prescribed medication only?

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    • An energy drink may contain caffeine.
      By: lecostaloca
      An energy drink may contain caffeine.
    • Children should not drink an excessive amount of caffeinated soda.
      By: tiverylucky
      Children should not drink an excessive amount of caffeinated soda.