How to Treat Adult ADHD without Medication
Despite the brain-based nature of ADHD, it is possible to treat adult ADHD without medication. ADHD medication does have a purpose. Among other things, ADHD medication increases brain chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine, thus decreasing impulsivity and increasing concentration. Some people respond well to medication. Others either don’t respond well or don’t want to take medication.
Medication decisions should always be made with a doctor, of course, but treating adult ADHD without drugs is possible (How to Handle ADHD Medication Withdrawal). The process starts by identifying goals and considering what symptoms you want to work on. From there, you get to take action to live and thrive medication-free.
Principles of Managing Adult ADHD without Medication
When treating adult ADHD without medication, there are some principles to guide you. These principles involve your mind-set as well as your attitude toward your life and solving ADHD-related difficulties. Important guiding principles include:
Awareness involves knowing yourself and your unique ADHD challenges. What causes the problems? What makes them worse? Better? Pay attention to and come to know well your emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and patterns. With this insight, you can better manage the symptoms of your ADHD.
Motivation is having a reason to want to thrive despite living with ADHD. What is your “why” for moving forward and for doing it without medication? What are your values, and what is important to you? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you choose the right actions to make progress.
Priorities involve choosing what is most important to work on now and what can wait. ADHD or not, it’s impossible to work on every challenge at once. Deciding what you can control puts your energies in the right place and allows you to target the most problematic aspects of ADHD first.
Focus is something to be aware of because it can shift without our even realizing it and get us off the healing track. Notice your thoughts. Are you blaming yourself for problems? This is inaccurate and hurtful. Blame your ADHD for certain difficulties you’re experiencing. You’ll have something concrete to target and improve. Also, is your focus positive and solution-focused, or is it negative and problem-focused? A positive mind-set helps you move forward past problems rather than getting stuck in them.
Adhering to these principles will lead to your successfully managing adult ADHD without medication. The below strategies will help put the principles into concrete action.
Strategies to Deal with ADHD without Medication.
- Create written agendas and schedules, clear plans to help you stay in a flow throughout each day.
- Develop structure and routine. For example, do morning tasks in the same order every day so you get out the door quickly. Your brain craves this regularity.
- Use ADHD time management strategies, such as using alarms, electronic calendar alerts, or adult ADHD apps to help yourself and by asking people to keep you on track.
- Help yourself stay focused and productive at work, school home or elsewhere by decreasing external and internal distractions. It’s often possible to deal with ADHD without medication by addressing your internal and external environment. What are your thoughts like? Your emotions? Do you do better with music, white noise, or silence? How do you like your lighting? Have you eliminated clutter and made your space aesthetically pleasing?
- Schedule time for fun. Relaxing, letting go, and creating some enjoyment does more for your happiness and wellbeing that any medication could.
The stress of ADHD makes you feel like you’re constantly rushing to find things, remember things, concentrate, keep emotions in check, and, in general, to just survive rather than thrive. There is more to life than that, and you can experience it by managing your ADHD even without medication.
Last Updated: 01 November 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD