As with many other illnesses, medication should be tried only after non-drug options have been explored.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder does respond to things other than medication. In fact, stimulant medications, the most effective treatments, only deal with about 60% to 75% of symptoms. And, as we know, stimulants are very addictive when taking more than a strictly therapeutic dose.

In fact, it’s recommended that parents and teachers put their heads together to behaviorally treat the disorder before trying medication.

  • One way involves progressively setting small goals
    • This may include having them not leave their seat over a certain amount of times during the school-day
    • Perhaps, at home, it involves completing an increasing amount of schoolwork on one subject, before switching to another
    • If they meet these expectations, a reward, such as a bit of extra time at recess, or being able to stay up a bit later before going to bed, is given (as an aside, this is called operant conditioning)
    • If they don’t meet these goals, perhaps they lose half of their dessert at lunch or dinner
  • Another method has the parents learning how to calm and focus their child. What to say to them, and in what voice, so that the child sharpens their focus
  • Also, switching the order of activities around in the child’s daily agenda could help
    • This may include a teacher not going over new math material right before or after exercise, and not first thing in the morning or last thing in the school-day
    • Maybe it involves a parent forming a new homework plan: the child returns home from school. After a thirty-minute break (not including TV or computer time), they do half of their homework. Then they take another thirty-minute break, before completing their homework.
  • Active training of how to be social with their more healthy peers, also helps children with ADHD

  • Mindfulness is a meditation that promotes paying close attention to things that your senses pick up, and that would otherwise not be attended to closely
    • In children of eight to 12 years, an eight-week course led to parents responding that there were a significant reduction in symptoms. The parents also had decreased stress. Strangely, the teachers didn’t report significant improvement
    • Minfulness has also been
  • Though not concerning people with ADHD, a systematic review on the effects of meditation on cognitive decline, some of which symptoms compare well with those of ADHD, found cognition to decline at a slower rate
  • The most recommended approach is a combination
    • It should be created with the idea in mind that each person has a unique kind of ADHD
    • Short-term treatment
      • Lowering impulsivity
      • Lowering hyperactivity
    • Long-term treatment
      • Social skills training
      • Coaching on skills that lead to academic achievement
  • The National Institute of Mental Health conducted a 14-month study, involving almost 600 children
    • Each randomly assigned to one of four group types
      • No specific talk therapy, no medication (care from community)
      • Just medication (usually Ritalin)
      • Just talk therapy
      • Combination of medication and talk therapy
    • Results
      • The combination therapy group, and the just medication group, were more effective than the just talk therapy group, and the community care group
      • Parent-child relationships, defiant behavior, social skills, depression, and anxiety, responded most to combination therapy
    • However, talk therapy stopped, and medication didn’t

  • For adults with ADHD
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very helpful in catching focus when it drifts off, and re-centering what one means to pay attention to. It also can teach skills that help with organization, so that activities and obligations can be completed efficiently and productively.


Sources: Ben Komor, Condensed Psychopharmacology 2013: A Pocket Reference for Psychiatry and Psychotropic Medications, Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach