Unlocking the Potential: Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD

By April 19, 2023 No Comments

ADHD is a disorder characterized by symptoms of impulsivity, distractedness, and restlessness. Medication is a popular route of treatment for many, but there are a number of non-drug treatments for ADHD such as behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes that are effective in managing ADHD symptoms.

Non-Drug Treatment for ADHD

What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is typically diagnosed in childhood, but sometimes it isn’t recognized and diagnosed until adulthood. The symptoms that are associated with ADHD include but are not limited to impulsivity, inattention, hyperactivity, problems with prioritizing, and low frustration tolerance. These symptoms can greatly interfere with daily life as well as work and academic performance.

It’s estimated that about 4.4% of adults today have ADHD, with men having a diagnosis rate of 5.4% and women with a rate of 3.2%. The causes of ADHD are unknown, but a few factors are believed to come into play such as genetics, environmental factors, and problems during nervous system development. There also isn’t a cure for ADHD, but there are fortunately many ways to treat and manage the disorder so those experiencing it can live a balanced life.

Can ADHD Be Treated Without Drugs?

It’s very common for those that have been diagnosed with ADHD to be prescribed medication to help them manage the condition, but these drugs can come with a lot of unwanted side effects without offering a long-term solution. Appetite suppression, sleep problems, and mood changes are a few of the most common side effects that come with ADHD medication. There are several non-drug treatments for ADHD available today that are very helpful in managing the condition in a safe and healthy way.

Non-drug ways to deal with ADHD can help address the root causes of the condition instead of masking the symptoms with medication. These non-drug treatments involve different therapies and lifestyle changes that help people develop new habits and routines that make it easier to manage their time and stay focused, as well as address underlying emotional and psychological issues that may be contributing to their ADHD symptoms. Treatments are never a one-size-fits-all approach, so exploring non-drug treatment options allows individuals with ADHD to find a more personalized and effective approach to managing their symptoms.

Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD

While it’s been so normalized for those living with ADHD to take medication to manage it, there are indeed many non-drug ADHD treatments that can significantly help with treating this condition. A combination of behavioral therapies and lifestyle changes have proven to be the most effective ways to manage ADHD.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy can be highly effective in treating ADHD. This form of therapy can teach individuals specific skills and strategies for managing their symptoms by helping them identify problematic behaviors and replacing them with more positive ones, such as improving time-management skills and breaking down tasks into smaller, more doable steps. Behavioral therapy can also help those with ADHD develop routines in their daily lives and healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress and anxiety.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is an effective non-drug treatment for ADHD because it helps individuals develop an understanding of their symptoms which in turn allows them to better manage them. People can learn how to identify and challenge unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their symptoms. This may include strategies for improving attention, increasing impulse control, reducing distractibility, and developing coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills for managing symptoms in different situations.

Non-Drug ADHD Treatment


Neurofeedback is a form of therapy that uses real-time displays of brain activity in the form of visual or auditory cues to teach individuals how to self-regulate their brain function. When it comes to ADHD, neurofeedback has been shown to be an effective non-drug treatment by helping people better control their attention and reduce impulsivity. A study in 2014 showed that children showed a great improvement in their ADHD symptoms after 3 months of sessions, and the improvements increased even more when combined with behavioral therapy. The benefits of engaging with consistent neurofeedback therapy often persist well after the sessions have ended, as well.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves intentionally bringing one’s awareness to the present moment without judgment or evaluation. This form of meditation can be an effective way to treat ADHD without drugs by increasing self-awareness, attention, and emotional regulation. Through mindfulness meditation, individuals are able to learn how to observe their thoughts, emotions, and sensations without reacting to them. Studies have shown that meditation has the highest effect on symptoms of inattention rather than hyperactivity or impulsiveness, so it’s best used in conjunction with other therapies.

Through consistent practice, those with ADHD can enhance their ability to focus on the present and reduce the impact of distractions on their attention. Mindfulness meditation is also a wonderful way for people to reduce stress, and anxiety, and improve their overall well-being.


Regular exercise is of course something that everyone can benefit from, and it has shown to be a very effective non-drug treatment for ADHD by improving cognitive function, reducing impulsivity, improving mood, and reducing stress and anxiety. Exercise acts as a great outlet for channeling the excess energy that’s often present in those with ADHD. Studies have found that exercise can improve working memory, attention, and cognitive abilities, which are areas where individuals with ADHD often struggle.

Dietary Changes

At the end of the day, how we fuel our bodies unsurprisingly ends up playing one of the biggest roles in our overall health. Research has shown that dietary changes can lead to significant improvements in ADHD symptoms by better supporting the nervous system and its processes. Eliminating certain foods from the diet that can exacerbate ADHD symptoms, such as foods high in sugar and artificial additives, can result in a drastic improvement of such symptoms. Increasing the intake of nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats as well as staying hydrated each day is key when it comes to supporting healthy brain function.

Non-Drug Treatment for ADHD in Adults

Improving ADHD Through Non-Drug Treatments

Treating ADHD without drugs is very achievable, especially if a combination of the above-mentioned methods is integrated into the daily routine. Behavioral therapy, CBT, neurofeedback, mindfulness meditation, exercise, and dietary changes are all examples of non-drug ADHD treatments that can improve attention, cognitive function, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. If you’re unsure of where to begin implementing non-drug treatments, the first step should be to reach out to a trusted mental health professional so they can help direct you on how to best treat your ADHD without pharmaceuticals. Establishing realistic goals and gradually shifting your daily routines to incorporate more of the tools and techniques that can reduce your ADHD symptoms is key.

ADHD medication certainly has its place and can complement non-drug treatments for even greater results. Anyone who significantly struggles with daily activities such as in school, work, or social interactions might find the most benefit from integrating both medication and non-drug treatments into their routine.

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with ADHD or have been on medication for years and want to go about managing the condition differently, you can benefit from incorporating these practices into your life. Consulting with your mental health professional can help you get on the right track for successfully managing your ADHD symptoms without medication. By exploring these alternative approaches, individuals with ADHD can discover effective strategies that personally work in treating their symptoms and helping them achieve their goals.