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By Robert Locke MBE

Let’s get a few facts straight about ADHD and then look at what you need to do to ensure that you have the proper skills to manage your or your child’s ADHD with success.

ADHD meds can cause substance abuse?

There are lots of rumours and falsehoods concerning the fact that if you are on ADHD meds then you are going to be prone to substance abuse of other types. Fortunately, the latest research reveals that this is a total myth

If you are on medication, you can rest assured that this is not a gateway to drug abuse and hell! The latest research homed in on this very question.

The UCLA research

UCLA got to work on 15 long term studies and they looked these in a range of countries from Germany, USA and Canada .

The studies followed 2,500 kids from the age of 8 right up to 20.  After all the data was gathered, researchers found that those kids who had been on ADHD meds were not more likely to be at risk for substance abuse compared to those kids who had never received any ADHD medication at all.

This research has come as a great relief to many ADHD sufferers but of course, this is not the whole story. We have dispelled one myth but now let us look at the facts.

1st Strategy to meet the challenge

The facts about the ADHD meds are that the side effects such as loss of appetite and stunted growth are liable to affect about 33% of the children who are on them.  There are also sleep challenges to cope with.

The first strategy is to ensure that the medication is used as just one part of a comprehensive treatment regime. We have to make sure that effective parenting skills and a properly organized home which is ADHD friendly are in place. Study after study has shown that developing life skills is the best way to success.

The ADHD obesity link.

If you have ADHD and are male it seems you are more likely to become an obese adult. This is a fact which has been shown in the most recent research published in Pediatrics which shows that boys with ADHD are twice as likely to be overweight and obese than those boys who do not have ADHD.

This research was carried out at the Langone Medical Canter at New York University but it was a very small study which surveyed about 100 boys and followed them right through to the age of 41.   Over 40% of those who had ADHD were found to have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of well over 30 compared to those who never had ADHD who were scoring 27.  Anything over 25 is considered to be risky.

2nd Strategy to conquer that challenge.

The key here is of course that impulsivity is the culprit in making poor food choices.  People with ADHD are much less likely to be able to control cravings for food.

The only strategy that works is to try to reduce impulsive eating by :-

  • Have a proper eating schedule, preferably 4/5 small meals a day
  • Avoid boredom because any negative feeling can transform into a desire to eat
  • Eat slowly and chew it. Enjoy the food and the taste. Gulping food is tasteless in every sense of the word
  • Keep risky fattening foods out of the house
  • Stock up the fridge with healthy food and eat fruit or nuts when you get really hungry
  • Try using smaller plates
  • Exercise when you get bored. You can use up calories and feel less guilty when you eat afterwards.
  • Make a pact with partner or child to watch each other eat so that you do not gulp. This works for me when my partner tells me to stop guzzling my food!

ADHD meds are sufficient to manage ADHD!

 Another myth! Well, if you think that, you are going against all the major medical authorities in the country who are now recommending that learning life skills is the only efficient and long lasting solution to ADHD. The medication can help with hyperactivity and impulsivity to a certain extent but it really is a band-aid solution.

There is now plenty of research to show that the effects of ADHD meds are limited and they start to wear off after only three years. You can find out more about this if you look up the work done by Dr. William Pelham of the Florida International University. Not only is he a world authority on ADHD but his Summer Treatment Program run by the Center for Children and Families is widely praised as a model for helping families cope with ADHD. It has been nominated a model program by the APA (American Psychological Association).

3rd Strategy to finish  the challenge

A central part of the above program is based on behavior therapy or simple, effective parenting skills. The whole family takes part and that is proving to be a winning formula. There is an emphasis on:-

·      Behavior therapy with instructions for parents in how to apply the principles

·      Help in building social skills

·      Assistance in learning problems

·      Help for children in following instructions.

Even if you cannot attend that program, the above pointers should be a guide as to the best way to help you and your ADHD child to cope with life’s challenges.  There may be similar courses run by your local church or health authority. Remember that medication is just a small cog in the wheel. Pills will not teach skills!

About the Author:

Robert Locke MBE is an award winning author and has written extensively on ADHD, child health problems and mental disorders. You can visit this page on ADHD natural treatment  to find out more. 

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