ADD and ADHD, contrary to popular belief, is not well understood nor are the drugs most frequently prescribed for these disorders. What we do know is that ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children, and many parents are seeking alternatives to drugs in response to pressure by teachers and schools to find a solution for their child’s behavior. In addition, Drug Rehab Programs and Eating Disorder Treatment Centers are looking for alternatives to drugs for their teenage and adult clients who have problems with attention or impulseivity, issues that are common among the addicted.
ADD and ADHD Alternative to Stimulants
To date, there is no lab test used to diagnose ADD and ADHD. Questionnaires, checklists and performance tests such as TOVA (Test of Variables in Attention), Conners Rating Scale, BASC (Behavior Assessment System for Children) and ACTeRS profile for boys are used to diagnose ADD and ADHD and prescribe stimulant medication such as Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine, Strattera, Concerta, Modafinil, Atomoxetine and Metadate. Since the Physicians’ Desk Reference warns against using Ritalin in children under six years of age, concerned parents are seeking alternatives to medication for their young children. Adults with ADD and ADHD who have a history of drug dependence, alcoholism or eating disorders are also cautioned against taking Ritalin and Adderall, because they display similar effects to that of cocaine. Adderall is actually a new name for a medication originally known as Obetrol, which was developed for diet control. It is understandable why Eating Disorder Treatment Centers would prefer an alternative to Adderall for their clients who have ADD and ADHD.
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is an evidence-based alternative to medication, and has been used successfully to improve ADD and ADHD in children and adults. There have been many studies on the efficacy of neurofeedback including a study that demonstrated physical changes in the brain with before and after MRI scans. One of the many benefits of neurofeedback is that many times the improvements in focus, attention, staying on task and reduced impulsivity are permanent. This is because the brain actually learns how to perform these tasks versus being put into a state of heightened arousal with the use of pharmaceuticals.