A few months ago I wrote about making the decision to take medication to manage your ADHD symptoms in What Is The Truth About Medication? .
Then a few weeks ago I received the comments below from Pierre de Villiers, who, as with his earlier comments, has graciously allowed me to share them with you.
….the medication does not solve the problems of everyday ADHD in terms of learning the coping mechanisms and adapting to social norms. Therefore, medication has a place, but the individual needs to realise that the medication impacts one part of the ADHD complex and that he would still have to accept ownership of his/her condition and learn the skill set to cope with ADHD and utilise the positives of ADHD/ADD to the full extent.
These comments led me to think more about the role of medication in the treatment of ADHD.
Many of us are familiar with the cause and treatment of Diabetes. Treatment includes a specific diet, exercise, education, daily test for insulin levels, foot care and, yes, medication. Clearly, medication, while a necessary part of the treatment plan, is not sufficient to treat it.
Likewise, for the 70-80% of people with ADHD for whom stimulant medication works, it is not sufficient by itself to address the challenges of ADHD.
Simply, stimulants serve to allow for adequate amounts of the necessary neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine. “…stimulants work by correcting a biochemical condition in the brain that interferes with attention and impulse control.”
As Dr. Thomas Brown, author of Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults, notes:
“…increased dopamine in the synapse can act almost as a kind of ‘Viagra’ to encourage the brain’s response to the task. Thus [stimulants] may counter the chronic problem with motivating oneself to do necessary, but not intrinsically interesting tasks.”
While the medication is active in your system it may help to level the playing field by minimizing the impact of your ADHD symptoms, but the symptoms remain.
So, while medication can form the cornerstone of a treatment plan for many with ADHD, like insulin treatment for diabetes, it is not enough for effective treatment.
Building on the Foundation
Because medication can not teach skills, heal past hurts from the impact of ADHD or offer support and accountability. To build on the foundation that medication can provide and to lessen the negative impact of the symptoms on our lives, more is needed.
First, is the need for education, both about ADHD in general and, more specifically, how our it impacts our life.
In addition, we need an understanding of our strengths and challenges apart from our ADHD. We are not our ADHD!
Having the awareness of how we operate will allow us to address our challenges, such as procrastination, difficulty planning and managing our impulses, etc. with unique solutions, solutions that work best for us.
In addition to medication, managing our symptoms may also include:
- skill building around areas such as time and task management
- good diet
- enough sleep
- quality connections with others
- support from a professional
- and other solutions that work for you
If you are taking medication, consider other ways to help manage your ADHD. Take a look at this article 20 Ways to Treat ADHD.