Your Questions About Adhd Drugs

Sandra asks…

How do you control ADHD without drugs?

I was diagnosed at about the age of 6 with ADHD. I have since been in a battle with my ADHD. I’m in my second year in college now and it’s really taking its toll on me. I am not as bad as I used to be (read: I can usually make myself sit down and do homework) but it takes a lot of my energy.

barry jennings answers:

There are behavioral modification therapies out there. I would search them on the web. Try different ones until they work for you. But you might consider medication if your grades and daily life is suffering. There is a new medication that is not a stimulant. It might be helpful. Try to stay organized as much as possible, I know it’s really difficult.

You need to use a planner and really schedule and try to keep yourself on track. Reward yourself when you’ve done well. Take time out to do something you enjoy when you have kept on track and done well in school.

You might try taking a workshop on getting organized, be proactive. There are support groups for adult ADHD. You might try and find one in your area. There are a lot of adult ADHD sources on the web including some non profit’s dedicated to helping you help yourself.

Charles asks…

What are some alternative ways to treat ADHD without drugs?

Answers are greatly appreciated thank you!

barry jennings answers:

Hi Michael –

Great question! There are a lot of ways to treat ADHD with alternative methods. In fact, a lot of alternative methods I will suggest are really not “alternative methods” as much as they are good skills, tools, and strategies for anyone to be successful.

First off, let me tell you that ADHD can be managed without the use of medication. BUT, it is also important to know just exactly how an individual’s ADHD impacts their life. Sometimes medication is the best and safest option for treatment.

Now that said, here are some alternative methods (in no particular order):

1. Natural remedies such as fish oils. Unfortunately, we do not know as much about the effectiveness of fish oils and other “natural remedies” because there is not as much research conducted.

2. Working memory training. ADHD is quickly being understand as a problem with working memory and the ability to juggle and mentally manipulate information. The idea that ADHD is about “inattention” is actually inaccurate.

So, working memory training is designed to help improve the brain’s ability to process information, juggle that information, and store it in a way that is more productive (for lack of a better term). The general idea is that you are working a muscle to make it stronger…and this type of “alternative” will help improve memory and therefore the impact of decreased focus, attention, etc..

3. Talk therapy. Finding the right therapist and speaking with them can be incredibly powerful. The challenge is that most therapists “suck” and do not know what they are doing or how to truly help someone. The best therapists will help someone look inside at what is going on and help them to understand and make sense of their difficulties and their strengths.

4. Behavior therapy. There is a lot of attention (no pun intended) on ADHD and bad behavior. A behavior therapist can help in many ways to identify problem behaviors and replace them with more effective and positive behaviors. More importantly, they should also be focusing on what behaviors do work.

5. Sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep is critical, and even more so for an individual with ADHD. This is a time for the brain to recharge and re-energize your body.

6. Diet. A healthy, balanced diet is critical for someone with ADHD. This alone won’t eliminate symptoms, but by eating the right foods, your body will be more successful at regulating energy, attention, focus, and concentration. Just think of sugars versus protein (bad energy versus good energy).

7. Exercise. An individual with ADHD can benefit from being outdoors or just from the other known benefits of exercise – getting rid of excess energy, deep breathing, time to think…etc…

8. Study Skills. People with ADHD learn in a very different way than those without ADHD. In fact, everyone (those without ADHD) learns differently. There are 3 primary learning modalities, and we must focus more on ways that do improve and encourage learning rather than getting stuck in situations that fight our natural learning style.

9. Communication Skills. Not a lot of people are taught how to properly communicate and how to be involved in healthy relationships. How to talk, regulate emotions, etc… Are crucial.

10. Social Skills. It is said that people with ADHD have a difficult time with social skills…and these can be taught and learned. Social skills are how we read, process, interpret, and respond to social cues and how we interact in social situations.

Please know that NOT just one of these “alternatives” will make everything go away or quickly fix the problem. In fact, medication doesn’t quickly make things better. The best treatment is comprehensive and includes many of the mentioned treatment options.

I hope this helps.


Rory F. Stern, PsyD
“Former therapist” and ADHD Coach

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