Most people who are actively treating their ADHD will try medication at some point in their lives. And for many, when it is effective, it can change a person’s life.
But medication without management is like a dead-end street. Ultimately, pills without skills won't take you where you want to go.
Wait a minute, what? Medication doesn't "fix" ADHD?
Let me say it clearly: the purpose of medication is not to cure ADHD.
The purpose of ADHD medication in the treatment of ADHD is to 'activate the brain,' as we say here at ImpactParents. Medication is a tool in your tool-box that can help to engage the brain. Once it does, you are in a better position to apply management techniques.
That means that the purpose of medication is actually to enable you to learn or create systems for self-management. A child is not going to become magically organized with a neat backpack by taking medication for ADHD. But a child may become receptive to learning HOW to organize her backpack when taking medication for ADHD.
Here's a 3 minute explanation of the purpose of medication for ADHD:
Too often parents put their child on medication without being clear about what they're trying to achieve with the medication. Is it for emotionality? Frustration tolerance? Impulsivity? Attention? The answer matters a lot – in terms of what medication to use, and how to evaluate its effectiveness.
So, before you put your child on medication for ADHD, you might try this:
- Listen to this three-minute (3) explanation
- Get some parent training in behavior management so you can learn how to teach the skills that will enhance the value of the pills. According to Dr. William Pelham, it has been proven to prolong the time before starting a child on medication, reduce the dose needed, and enhance its effectiveness.
- Make sure you know what you are expecting the medication to accomplish. If you don't know, ask your prescribing physician.
The purpose of ADHD medication is to help you or your child improve your ability to achieve certain goals. It is not to cure ADHD.