FAQ’s About ADHD Treatment

Can you cure ADHD?

No, ADHD is not curable. It is best to think of ADHD as a disorder similar to high blood pressure, diabetes or other chronic illness. ADHD cannot be cured, but there are effective strategies to help individuals with ADHD learn how to better manage their symptoms and make ADHD less of a problem in their lives.

What is/are the best way/ways to treat ADHD?

Research has consistently supported the use of medication based treatment (see below for more on this) in conjunction with behavioral focused therapies. There is a recent body of research supporting the use of Cognitive Behavioral therapy for adults with ADHD (to help adults learn to better manage their ADHD symptoms). With children and teens therapy can help the young person learn to better understand their disorder, develop better strategies to manage their ADHD, and help families learn to more effectively support and assist their children and teens with ADHD. Therapy is also very useful in addressing problems that arise from having ADHD such as academic difficulties, behavior problems (including oppositional behavior), anxiety and depression. With adults co-joint therapy is often helpful for couples in which one of the partners has ADHD. Individual therapy is also recommended for those adults struggling with anxiety, depression or other difficulties related to their ADHD.

Don’t children out-grow ADHD?

The short answer, no, not typically. There is a growing body of research that has followed children diagnosed with ADHD, into adulthood. This research has found that most adults show some residual ADHD symptoms while many still have significant ADHD symptoms. As noted above, our current understanding of ADHD suggests that ADHD is best treated as a lifelong chronic illness.

Medication Treatment

Despite a large body of research, dating back decades, supporting medication based treatment it is clear that many people continue to be concerned about medication treatment for ADHD. Concerns range from worries about the side effects, to concerns about the medications’ impact over years of treatment, to concerns that medication may be abused and lead to substance abuse issues. First, ADHD medications have side effects. However, all medications have side effects. Thus, the use of medication needs to be monitored. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that not treating a problem has risks as well, often far more significant risks. Second, there is no data to show significant negative effects of long term treatment with medication. Third, ADHD medications, specifically stimulants, certainly can be abused. Therefore, it is important to be careful with their use, monitor teens and even young adults who might be tempted to abuse such medication, and be aware of the dangers associated with abusing stimulant medication. However, it is also important to keep in mind that untreated ADHD is associated with a higher incidence of substance abuse and that medication treatment, by controlling impulsive behavior, may help decrease the risk of substance abuse for those with ADHD.

Neurofeedback and memory treatment: worth considering?

No! The jury is in. These treatments are not worth considering. Several extensive reviews of research on neurofeedback and memory training approaches have consistently found that these treatments are not effective. The most recent review of the research, in the American Psychologist, the flag ship journal of the American Psychological Association, (October, 2017), concluded that neurofeedback is not an effective treatment and that any benefits derived from it are likely associated with a placebo effect, not the treatment itself. Similarly, an earlier study in the journal, Developmental Psychology found that there was no good evidence to support the use of memory training therapies, such as Cogmed. Please see our ADHD blog for a more detailed discussion of these finding and other research which clearly indicated that alternative treatment approaches are not effective in treating ADHD.

Why should family members be involved in the treatment of ADHD?

Because ADHD is a disorder of self-control or self-regulation it is particularly important for family members to be involved in treatment, particularly for children and adolescents. One of the most effective ways that parents can help their child (or teen) is to provide more consistent structure and support for their child. Family involvement allows your Centers for Family Change therapist to assist you in finding more effective ways to assist your child.

In the case of adults, spouses or partners are of often significantly impacted by their partner’s ADHD. Therapy can help the spouses or partners of those with ADHD better understand ADHD, and find more effective ways to support and work with their partner to address these issues. Moreover, the involvement of a spouse or partner provides a forum to address the negative impact ADHD symptoms may have had on adult relationships.

For more information on the treatment of ADHD please see our ADHD Blog.