Treatment for ADHD with or without medication is probably the second greatest debate in regards to ADD / ADHD (Only losing to: “does ADHD really exist?”). As for anything in life there is more than one answer to this question.
Taking medication is an option, not a must. There is usually no life threatening situation that should force you to take the medication, but you should seriously consider it.
Medication, when effective, has an immediate positive effect on the symptoms of ADD / ADHD. The effect is impressive and works within half an hour of taking the medication, and stops, after a few hours, as soon as the effect subsidizes. There is no known long term side effect or risk of addiction, in contrary, studies show that medication for ADHD reduces the chance of drug abuse.
Here is an Important note to take into consideration: Even if you or your child takes medication, it shouldn’t be the only treatment. On the other hand, medication, in the eyes of some experts, is not a crucial part of the treatment.
You may and should skip the medication treatment if you are not fully comfortable with the idea, or in case the side effects are too severe. It is possible to live with ADD/ ADHD without taking medication. First and foremost, it requires your awareness. ADD / ADHD treatment starts with the diagnosis. The knowledge that you or your child has ADD or ADHD is the most important part in the treatment. After identifying the ADD / ADHD there are many options available. Here is a list of things you should consider trying with or without taking medication (Adapted from Dr. Hallowell) :
Strength based approach – This means that if a person who has ADD / ADHD, whether it is a child or adult, should do what’s she is most good at, and a lot of it. This is a good advice for anyone, but it is most effective when it comes to ADD / ADHD. ADHDers have difficulties in concentrating when they are not interested in what they are doing, however, if they like what they do and good at it (funny that those two go together), they will be able to concentrate and possibly excel in it. This in turn will improve their self esteem, which is one of the most prominent side effect of ADD / ADHD
Daily physical exercise – Not only because of the ADD / ADHD. Physical exercise improves mind functioning, relives stress, and improves health and self esteem.
Good night sleep - Many ADHDers have sleep problems, and many symptoms of ADD / ADHD could be resoled with enough nighttime sleep.
Balanced diet – Eat whole foods and supplement of omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid too much sugar, artificial additive, coloring and sweeteners.
Meditation or prayer – Brings peace and mindfulness, helps to create and maintain self awareness and reduce impulsivity.
Positive human contact – This is highly important especially when in comes to those who have important role in the ADHDers life, such as, parents, teachers, spouse and so on. Knowing that your child, spouse or student has ADD / ADHD, is the first step. Knowing how to deal with ADHDers is extremely effective. Here is a book that may help you deal with challenging children: The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene.
Love! Love! Love! - Probably the single most effective, long term treatment for ADD / ADHD. Love is the extra mile that you walk in order to help your child or spouse. Don’t expect any radical short term results, but if you persist the results will come.
And lastly, whether or not you are in favor of taking medication, don’t ignore ADD / ADHD. You must deal with it. You must take it into consideration. Whether you call it a treatment or simply living with ADD / ADHD you must take an action. The long term effect of not dealing with ADD / ADHD in the proper way could be resulted in low self esteem, depression, financial problem, drug abuse, and this are only the milder long term effects of an untreated ADD / ADHD.