a photo of a pile of white pills coming out of a blue dispenserThere’s a news feature in the New York Times today (“Drowned in a Stream of Prescriptions”)  that focuses on the problem of addiction to ADHD medications.  While the article deals mainly with college students and young adults who deceive mental health professionals into thinking they have ADHD so that they can receive these highly addictive drugs, this story underscores the fact that drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and other psychostimulants, are highly addictive for ALL age levels (including young children) and should be prescribed only as a last resort after other non-drug alternatives have been tried.  The article suggests that these drugs are often given out by physicians without appropriate screening and monitoring.

The fact is that there are quite a number of non-drug alternatives out there that should be considered before going into the risky world of addictive psychostimulants.  In my book The Myth of the ADHD Child, I outlined 101 practical non-drug alternatives to ADD/ADHD.  Here are 50 of them:

  1. Provide a balanced breakfast.
  2. Consider the Feingold diet
  3. Limit television  and video games
  4. Teach self-talk skills.
  5. Find out what interests your  child.
  6. Promote a strong physical education program in your child’s school.
  7. Enroll your child in a martial arts program.
  8. Discover your child’s multiple intelligences
  9. Use background music to focus and calm.
  10. Use color to  highlight information.
  11. Teach your child to visualize.
  12. Remove allergens  from the diet.
  13. Provide opportunities for physical movement.
  14. Enhance your  child’s self-esteem.
  15. Find your child’s best times of alertness.
  16. Give  instructions in attention-grabbing ways.
  17. Provide a variety of stimulating  learning activities.
  18. Consider biofeedback training.
  19. Activate positive  career aspirations.
  20. Teach your child physical-relaxation techniques.
  21. Use  incidental learning to teach.
  22. Support full inclusion of your child in a  regular classroom.
  23. Provide positive role models.
  24. Consider alternative  schooling options.
  25. Channel creative energy into the arts.
  26. Provide hands-on  activities
  27. Spend positive times together.
  28. Provide appropriate spaces for  learning.
  29. Consider individual psychotherapy.
  30. Use touch to soothe and calm.
  31. Help your child with organizational skills.
  32. Help your child appreciate the  value of personal effort.
  33. Take care of yourself.
  34. Teach your child focusing  techniques.
  35. Provide immediate feedback.
  36. Provide your child with access to  a computer.
  37. Consider family therapy.
  38. Teach problem-solving skills.
  39. Offer your child real-life tasks to do.
  40. Use “time-out” in a positive way.
  41. Help your child develop social skills.
  42. Contract with your child.
  43. Use  effective communication skills.
  44. Give your child choices.
  45. Discover and  treat the four types of misbehavior.
  46. Establish consistent rules, routines,  and transitions.
  47. Hold family meetings.
  48. Have your child teach a younger  child.
  49. Use natural and logical consequences.
  50. Hold a positive image of your  child.

For details on using each of these strategies (plus 51 more) – see my post on 101 strategies, and get my book The Myth of the ADHD Child, Revised Edition: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion.  Most of these strategies can also be adapted for use with adolescents and adults.

This article was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.

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About the author

I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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