Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin are all common stimulant medications prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They all carry similar benefits and risks, with addiction being one of the possible risks. Although these medications are mostly safe when taken in prescribed amounts, addiction and abuse can lead to an overdose or other consequences. For an individual with a personal or family history of addiction, taking medications that are known to be addictive may not be the best option. There are a number of alternatives to stimulants for treating ADHD (medical and otherwise), that can help those who cannot or do not want to take stimulants.
A Brief History on Childhood ADHD & Adderall
When kids were growing up in the ‘60s were constantly standing up from their seats, they may have been labeled as “a problem” or “trouble”. In fact, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) wasn’t added to the DSM until 1968. Even then, very little was known about the disorder and how to treat it. It was in the 1990s that the number of ADHD diagnoses’ began to rise significantly. Some argue that it was because more children were developing the disorder whereas others point to an increase in awareness among parents and the ability for doctors to diagnose the condition more efficiently. Around the same time that cases began to rise, a new treatment went on the market: Adderall.
Adderall for ADHD Treatment
Adderall is a form of stimulant medication that has been shown to help improve focus and concentration. However, Adderall also comes with a myriad of potential side effects, such as:
- dry mouth
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- upset stomach
Individuals and parents of children diagnosed with ADHD have to ask the question “are there any alternatives to stimulants for treating ADHD?”
5 Alternative to Stimulants
There are multiple reasons why someone with ADHD may seek out an alternative treatment. Maybe they have a history of addiction that they are trying to navigate, or perhaps the original medication prescribed simply doesn’t work for them. Whatever the reason, it is beneficial to have multiple options and the ability to find what works best for each individual. Alternatives to stimulants for ADHD include non-stimulant medications, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments.
Non Stimulant Medications
Stimulants are not the only type of medication that a doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe to treat ADHD. There is a wide array of non-stimulant medications that can be and sometimes are used for adults and children. Many of these options are not use as often as stimulants because there have not been as extensive studies conducted that have shown significant results. However, one medication may work better for one person than another. It can’t hurt to ask your doctor about these options as an alternative to stimulants.
Non-stimulant medications that are used to treat ADHD include
- Tricyclic antidepressants (ie: imipramine and desipramine)
- Non-tricyclic antidepressants (ie: Bupropion and Venlafaxine)
- Specific norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (ie: Atomoxetine)
- Alpha-2 noradrenergic agonists (ie: Clonidine and guanfacine)
- Non-schedule stimulants (ie: Modafinil)
- Others. (ie: Beta-blockers and anti-psychotics)
One of the most common alternative treatments for ADHD is making diet changes such as avoiding food colorings, preservatives, and a high sugar diet. Some food colorings and preservatives have been thought to be associated with hyperactivity. There aren’t any definitive studies to back up this claim, but we do know that diet and gut health does have an effect on our mood, energy, and overall wellbeing. For this reason, adopting a diet lower in processed foods and sugar and higher in greens and whole foods may have multiple positive impacts.
Related Article: Diet and Recovery
Somewhat related to diet, certain vitamins, minerals, and essential oils have been shown to help with focus, mood, and energy. Iron, magnesium, and zinc are some of the supplements that are associated with helping ADHD related issues. Check with your doctor to learn if you have a deficiency of any of these nutrients and what the proper supplement dosage would be.
Additionally, essential oils such as peppermint, citrus, and eucalyptus are known to help with focus. Lavender and clary sage also help with relaxation. Finding the right balance of these oils with the help of an aromatherapist may help in managing ADHD.
There are a few different types of therapy that are used to help with managing and treating ADHD. These include:
- Behavioral Therapy: Addressed specific behaviors and developing solutions to prevent them, behavioral therapy is actually recommended as the first step in treating ADHD.
- Parent Therapy: For parents of children diagnosed with ADHD, a therapist can work with them to develop tools to work around attention issues and help the child thrive despite their diagnosis.
- Hypnotherapy: Shown to be particularly helpful in treating sleep issues and tics associated with ADHD.
EEG training, or biofeedback, is a type of Neurotherapy that measures the subject’s brain waves when given a specific task such as playing a video game. If the individual becomes distracted, the screen will go black. This type of therapy is thought to help train the individual to focus better, but it is still an experimental practice.
ADHD & Addiction Treatment
Many individuals come to Amethyst Recovery Center with co-occurring disorders, including ADHD and addiction. We take a holistic approach to treating our clients which allows us not only to treat the symptoms but the underlying issues too. Offering alternative therapies and helping clients develop life skills is all a part of our effective treatment program. If you or a loved one finds themselves dependent or addicted to stimulant medications, we can help. Call today to begin the road to recovery!