Alternatives to Medication for ADHD

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This afternoon on Twitter, I asked my followers what I should write about. I was delighted with the responses I got, so if you were one of them, thank you! If you weren’t on Twitter, but have some ideas, feel free to comment.

I’m going to try and get to all of the subjects mentioned as soon as possible. One of the biggest responses I got was about alternatives to ADHD medications, so I’m going to address that one first. Since this is a pretty big subject, I’m going to break it up into a series of posts.

One question I got was from someone who wanted to know my opinion about alternative treatments for ADHD, so I’m going to start there.

People often look for other methods to treat ADHD because they object to the use of prescription drugs in this instance. Depending on the drug in question, there are side effects. Some are of bigger concern than others. Some of the most common include loss of appetite, weight loss, and trouble sleeping. Stunted or delayed growth, stomach upsets, extreme fatigue and other side effects are also possible.

Parents often worry about changes to their child’s personality. I confess this was one of my biggest worries when we put our son Andy, then 10, on medication. I saw no difference in my son’s personality at all, in fact. Just a kid who was suddenly better able to manage his life. Other parents I have talked to have had different experiences.

All 3 of my children have, at one time or another, been on meds for ADHD. Each made a decision to stop, based on how the medication made them feel. My oldest daughter Sarah, recently went back on meds, choosing a new one on the market, because she is a teacher and felt that her ADHD was affecting her performance adversely.

Just over a year ago, I wrote an ebook called The Natural ADHD Diet in response to questions about alternative treatments. In some of my following posts, I’ll continue this discussion, highlighting some of the parts of my book, as well as discussing the many other options out there.

There is a lot of controversy about alternative treatments for ADHD, just as there is about ADHD medications. I believe each side has both good and bad components, and that the choice to use one over the other is personal. I would hope that it begins with education about choices, and I’m going to try and provide some of that here.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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6 Responses

  1. My one son is on concerta and I hate him being on anything, but my youngest was just prescribed vyvanse and beacuse he is only 5 I was told to open it up and mix in some food, I have not given it to him, scared to, been really back and forth…any suggestions…the whole focus thing is difficult to say the least…concerta helps my 14YO, so I do not know why the hesitation with this with my youngest.

  2. Vyvanse is what my daughter Sarah is taking. She seems to like it and I think it’s working for her. She has been on a couple of others – don’t remember what – and she had a horrible time with them.

    Vyvanse must be metabolized in order to work – so that’s why you need food. It prevents it from being abused by anyone.

    I know how you feel about giving your kids anything like that. It was hard for me, too. Keep reading – I’ll be writing more in the coming days.

  3. All 3 of my boys have been on meds for ADD or ADHD. My oldest is in high school and he hasn’t been taking it. My 10 year old has taken adderrall since he was 5. For the past 3 weeks he has been off of it, trying to see if behavior modification can help him. He is more active and eats much better off medication. My fiance has been really working with him but yet he isn’t around him everyday. His teacher doesn’t feel he should take it even though he has been more hyper and gotten in trouble a little more, she feels its not any more than the other boys. My son has asked to take it cause he says it helps him focus more and be able to silent read. Should I put him back on it or are there other techniques I can try? I don’t want him to use it as an excuse to not doing or doing his work and I would like for him to learn some coping skills.


  4. There are a lot of simple things that you can try.

    Good health is more important than most people realize. A good night’s sleep is vital. Be sure to just count the time your son actually sleeps vs how long he is in bed.

    Lean protein at every meal will help, as will staying hydrated throughout the day.

    Is he active after school? Studies have shown that exercise can have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms for as long as 24 hours. 30 minutes of activity should be enough.

    Learning coping skills will take time; maybe you could gradually cut down on his use of medications while you’re doing this.

    You might also want to check out my other blog, ADD Student, for more ideas.