Therapy or Drugs? Weighing the Options When it Comes to Treating ADHD

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If you asked anyone what the treatment was for ADHD, they would likely be quick to rattle off the name of some stimulant drug. Nearly 70% of legal stimulants are made and used in the United States, and this is in part due to the fact that big prescription drug companies not only advertise these drugs heavily to doctors and patients alike, they also fund medical research for disorders like ADHD.

Nearly 70% of legal stimulants are made and used in the United States.
Nearly 70% of legal stimulants are made and used in the United States.

Drug companies have been promoting their products to doctors for years, but doctors used to keep a safe distance from these salesmen. It wasn’t until the 80s that the two began to join forces, when legislation was passed to allow for-profit companies to take responsibility for federally funded research findings. At this point it was actually encouraged for medical researchers to combine their efforts with these big pharmaceutical companies.

As the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and doctors grows, more patients with ADHD and other behavioral disorders continue to be treated with drugs, like Adderall and Ritalin, despite the fact that other intervention treatments have been found to be effective in the treatment of these disorders. Handing out drugs so liberally is especially concerning among children diagnosed with ADHD, and nearly 5.2 million children between the ages of 13 and 17 have been diagnosed with it in the U.S. Given the choice, most parents would likely opt for non-drug related treatments before turning to the use of drugs.

Behavioral intervention has been shown to help both children and adults who suffer from ADHD, including improvements in parenting skills, coping methods and academic performance. While more research is needed to look at specific methods of behavioral intervention and other forms of therapy as it relates to certain disorders, there have been clearly defined benefits from such treatment for ADHD.

In a time when drugs have become the quick fix for many of our ailments, it is important to remember that other options are usually available.

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