If you think your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may wonder what drugs can help treat this condition. One drug you may have heard of is Tenex.

Tenex is not FDA-approved to treat ADHD, but doctors may use it off-label for this purpose. If you’re not comfortable with off-label use, you may be interested in a related drug called Intuniv that is approved for ADHD treatment. Read on to learn more about these drugs and the use of Tenex to treat ADHD.

Tenex is the brand-name version of a generic drug called guanfacine. This drug is typically prescribed to treat high blood pressure. It’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ADHD. However, your child’s doctor may still prescribe Tenex to treat ADHD.

Prescribing a drug for a condition it’s not approved to treat is called off-label use. To learn more about what off-label drug use means, click here.

Tenex can be used as a non-stimulant ADHD drug. To treat ADHD, Tenex can be used alone or with a stimulant medication.

Stimulants and non-stimulants are the two main types of drugs used to treat ADHD. Both types treat ADHD by helping to:

  • increase attention span
  • decrease impulsive and hyperactive behavior

Stimulants are typically the first type of drug that doctors prescribe for ADHD. However, stimulants aren’t the best choice for some people. For instance, stimulants may not work well for certain people or they may cause too many side effects, such as increased blood pressure, sleep problems, and reduced appetite. For these people, a non-stimulant drug such as Tenex may be a better option. A doctor may also prescribe a non-stimulant in the first place to avoid stimulant side effects from the start.

Learn more: ADHD by the numbers: Facts, statistics, and you »

Your doctor will decide the dosage that’s best. The typical dosage of Tenex for treatment of ADHD is 0.5 mg once or twice daily. The dosage may be increased as tolerated to 1 to 4 mg/day.

Studies have not found Tenex to be safe and effective in children younger than 12 years. The use of Tenex in this age group is not recommended. People aged 13 years and older can use Tenex. However, only a few small studies have found Tenex to be effective in treating ADHD in patients of this age range. More research needs to be done to determine how effective Tenex is in treating ADHD.

Tenex may not cause quite as many side effects as stimulant drugs, but it can still cause side effects. The more common side effects from Tenex can include:

  • dry mouth
  • drowsiness
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • constipation

In some cases, Tenex can cause serious side effects. These can include:

  • depression
  • low heart rate
  • trouble breathing

In children with ADHD who use Tenex, there have been a few reports of mania and aggressive behavior. All of these children had medical or family risk factors for bipolar disorder. Other children taking Tenex for ADHD have reported hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there). Your doctor can tell you more.

Another drug your child’s doctor may prescribe to treat ADHD is related to Tenex. It’s called Intuniv, which is a brand-name version of guanfacine XR. It’s approved to treat ADHD in children ages 6-17 years. Intuniv is the extended-release version of Tenex. Extended-release medications release slowly into the body over time. Tenex, on the other hand, is an immediate-release drug, which releases into the body right away.

If your child’s doctor doesn’t mention Intuniv and you’d like to know more about it, feel free to ask. You may also want to ask how much it costs. At the time this article was published, Intuniv cost quite a bit more than Tenex. For current prices, visit

Both Tenex and Intuniv can be used to treat ADHD. If your or your child has ADHD, your doctor may prescribe one of these medications or another drug for ADHD. Be sure to ask the doctor any questions you have about your child’s treatment. These questions might include:

  • Is the drug you’re prescribing the best treatment the condition?
  • Is this drug covered by our health insurance?
  • Can you tell me more about off-label drug use?
  • Could behavior therapy help?

Working together, you and your doctor can create a treatment plan that can help manage ADHD.


Is Tenex used to treat autism?

Anonymous patient


Tenex is not used to treat autism itself. However, doctors sometime prescribe it off-label to treat symptoms that often occur with autism. These symptoms can include hyperactive behavior and trouble paying attention, both of which are key symptoms of ADHD.

Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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