ADD Medication and Treatment Reviews


Intuniv (guanfacine) is a once-daily, non-stimulant medication used to treat ADHD in children ages 6-12, and adolescents. Learn about Intuniv side effects and dosages, plus how it differs from stimulant medications like Vyvanse or Adderall.
Generic Name: Guanfacine

Using Intuniv (Guanfacine) for ADHD

Intuniv (generic name: guanfacine) is a once-daily, non-stimulant medication used to treat ADHD in children ages 6-12, and adolescents. It is commonly used on its own as a monotherapy, or as a complementary treatment alongside stimulant medications, educational interventions, and therapies.

Intuniv is not a stimulant medication like Vyvanse or Adderall.

Intuniv (Guanfacine): How Does it Work for ADHD Symptoms?

Intuniv is a central alpha2A-adrenergic receptor agonist that is thought to affect receptors in the brain in a way that helps symptoms of ADHD such as emotional sensitivity, hyperarousal, and social aggression. Non-stimulant medications like Intuniv sometimes help patients with ADHD who can’t take or don’t experience benefits from stimulants.

Intuniv has not been studied in children younger than 6. Intuniv does not have a high risk of abuse or dependence. It is not a controlled substance.

The immediate-release formulation of guanfacine is used to treat high-blood pressure.

How to Use Intuniv (Guanfacine) for ADHD

Before starting or refilling an Intuniv prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.

This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.

Dosage of Intuniv for ADHD

As with all medications, follow your Intuniv prescription instructions exactly. Intuniv is an extended-release tablet taken once daily in the morning or evening at approximately the same time each day. Tablets are available in 1mg, 2mg, 3mg, and 4mg dosages.

Intuniv should not be taken with a high-fat meal. This can speed up the release of medication, and increase the risk of side effects. Tablets should be swallowed whole, and never crushed or chewed.

The optimal dosage varies patient by patient. Your doctor may adjust your dosage weekly by 1mg increments until you or your child experiences the best response — that is, the lowest dosage at which you experience the greatest improvement in symptoms without side effects.

If you miss a dose, you should take it as soon as possible, unless it is already time for your next dose. You should not take two doses of Intuniv at the same time. Contact your doctor if you have questions about skipped pills.

Do not drink alcohol while taking this drug.

When discontinuing treatment, or decreasing dosage, patients should work with a doctor to gradually taper the level of medication by no more than 1mg every 3 to 7 days. Stopping Intuniv suddenly can create withdrawal symptoms including increased heart rate and high blood pressure, sometimes accompanied by headaches, confusion, agitation, or tremors.

Intuniv Side Effects

Common side effects of Intuniv include:

  • sleepiness
  • dry mouth
  • tiredness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • vomiting
  • slow heart rate
  • low blood pressure

Other serious side effects of Intuniv include

  • low blood pressure
  • low heart rate
  • fainting
  • sleepiness
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate or other withdrawal symptoms after suddenly stopping Intuniv

Taking Intuniv may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor. Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.

Report to your doctor any heart-related problems or a family history of heart and blood pressure problems. Patients with structural cardiac abnormalities, renal failure, and serious heart problems could experience complications while taking Intuniv. Physicians should monitor these vital signs closely during treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experience warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Intuniv.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions Associated with Intuniv

Store Intuniv in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Intuniv prescription with anyone, even another person with ADHD. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.

You should not take Intuniv if you have an allergy to Intuniv or any of its ingredients. You should use caution taking Intuniv if you have kidney problems, a history of fainting, heart problems, or a history of stroke.

Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated while taking Intuniv.

If you’re thinking of having a child, discuss the use of Intuniv with your doctor. Animal studies indicate a potential risk of fetal harm. It is not known if Intuniv is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.

Interactions Associated with Intuniv

Before taking Intuniv, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Intuniv can exacerbate the drowsiness created by depressants including alcohol, barbiturates, antihistamines, or other sedatives.

Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, and let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Intuniv before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.



30 Intuniv Related Links

  1. I’ve been on Intuniv for well over a year. I take 3 mg everyday, and its worked well for me. I have very bad adhd and have problems functioning without my meds. My current doctor told me not to stop taking it because on high dosages you may have a stroke. I’ve noticed that without it I can get very antsy and my emotions become a mess. The only other thing is since ive taken it my appetite has decreased. And my blood pressure raises quite a bit.

  2. As a 66 year old and recent ADD diagnosee, I was willing to try my doctor’s suggestion of Intuniv XR. After four weeks of horrible side effects and no benefits, I started some research. And the manufacturer’s Product Monograph states: ” When data were examined by age subgroups, only children aged 6 to 12 years demonstrated clinically relevant improvements.” Even the manufacturer is stating that this drug does not help for teens or adults. What a waste of people’s money and time and hopes to be offered this by a doctor who obviously is picking from some simple chart. Yuk!

  3. THANK YOU bobyvr for letting adults know that Intuniv does NOT work for adults! I was in process to ask for a prescription, when I read your post.

    Because Adults NEED something like this, you will have adults going into action to try it unless you CLEARLY STATE THAT STUDIES SHOW IT DOES NOT WORK FOR ADULTS. When we read, “for 5 – 12 yr olds” we will think adults were, once again, simply left out of the study or article.

  4. Bobyvr and Sally..
    That is actually wrong. What the insert means is that they haven’t yet (at the time of that publishing) completed trials on adults with ADHD, so there is no info either for or against it.

    However, as of late 2017, a major phase of a trial for this medication and adult ADHD is showing clinically significant improvement in those on guanfacine vs placebo.

    So just because it didn’t work for you (remember, it can take 4-6 weeks to work AFTER you’ve found the right dose, so it could take many months to find the right dose), does NOT mean it doesn’t work for other adults.

    We are individuals, not every medication works for every person.

    But yes, this medication so far in trials IS showing it does in fact work for many.

  5. My 7 year old daughter was prescribed several drugs for ADHD, Vyvanse and most recently Intuniv. After nearly a month of night terrors and animated dreaming we pulled her off Intuniv and have immediately seen improved, restful sleeping. I can’t tell you how devastating it was to see her in an inconsolable dreamlike haze lasting from 45 minutes to several hours. Her terrors consisted of things crawling on walls and macabre events, something I truly found odd as we heavily monitor her television/news/etc.l intake. Thankfully we’re all getting some rest now and can tackle the day with clarity. Intuniv may work for others but it was a nightmare of a drug for us.

  6. Coloradoful
    Thank you for the comment, my grandson is 7 and he is on the same medication. He hasn’t been sleeping well with alot of restless and talking and fighting in his sleep.he has only been on the medication for 3 weeks but now he is acting quite differently. Do they have your daughter in anything else since they took her off the intunvi.
    Thank you for posting in here

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