ADD and ADHD Treatment

Absolute Awakenings Treatment Center offers comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for ADD and ADHD.

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two types of attention disorders that make it difficult for people to focus, complete complex tasks, and function at expected levels across all areas of life. Beyond struggling to pay attention, people with ADHD suffer from the additional challenge of hyperactivity.

In addiction recovery, simultaneous treatment for ADHD or ADD is often essential. People with untreated attention disorders have an incredibly high risk of developing either substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment gives these individuals safe, sustainable strategies for managing their primary illnesses. As a result, they no longer feel compelled to self-treat attention deficits with drugs or alcohol.

What Is ADD?

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a condition that makes it hard for people to sit still, focus on specific tasks, and get things done. People with ADD are easily distracted and contend with persistent feelings of restlessness. Although the signs and symptoms of ADD are often present in childhood, people can struggle with attention disorders well into their adult years.

Having ADD makes it hard to perform well at school and at work. Social, professional, and academic problems arising from ADD can also contribute to low self-esteem. People with ADD often turn to substances that slow them down or make them feel “normal”. For these individuals, addiction often arises as the result of self-treatment with illicit substances or prescription medications that they’ve obtained illegally. Surprisingly, many people with attention disorders rely on stimulants like methamphetamine or cocaine to create the sense of calm and focus they seek.

What Is ADHD?

While ADD is characterized by a lack of focus and a tendency to be easily distracted, ADHD is known for the added element of hyperactivity. People with ADHD fidget almost constantly, have a hard time sitting still, and regularly contend with racing thoughts. With both conditions, speaking before listening and talking incessantly are common symptoms.

People with ADHD often use avoidance to overcome the challenges of their conditions. This includes avoiding activities or commitments that require long periods of sitting still and the ability to focus. Like ADD, ADHD affects a person’s ability to perform well at school and at work. This creates social, academic, professional, and family problems that cause low self-esteem, feelings of low self-worth, and a deep desire to fit in. People with ADHD are more likely to start using substances as a result of peer pressure. They are also likely to self-treat their symptoms with stimulants, alcohol, or other substances.

Signs and Symptoms of ADD and ADHD

Evidence of ADD and ADHD is often noticed when children and adolescents are sent to school. Kids with attention deficit disorders often get into trouble for:

  • Constant fidgeting
  • Speaking at inappropriate times
  • Making compulsive or rash decisions
  • Interrupting others
  • Being unable to sit still

People with attention deficit disorders are often forgetful, frequently misplace or lose important items, and struggle with time management. When ADD and ADHD are untreated, these same challenges can continue throughout their lives.

Risk Factors

The exact causes of ADD and ADHD are unknown. However, certain environmental and lifestyle factors are believed to contribute to the development of these illnesses. They include:

  • Genetic predisposition (having one or more family members with attention disorders)
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Brain trauma

When mothers drink or use tobacco during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, this is believed to contribute to the development of attention deficit disorders.

How Are ADD and ADHD Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of attention deficit disorders goes beyond merely examining the behaviors that a person exhibits. Being easily distracted and struggling to pay attention may indicate the need for ADD and ADHD testing, but these symptoms alone are not enough for an accurate diagnosis. Instead, a full medical examination is performed. This assessment includes both hearing tests and vision tests. Additionally, a non-invasive brain scan may be performed as well. This is known as a NEBA or Neuropsychiatric EEG-based Assessment Aid that measures the ratio of theta to beta waves. NEBA scans are FDA-approved for use for patients between the ages of six and 17. For adults, medical professionals use a combination of psychological and medical assessment techniques. 

How Are ADD and ADHD Treated?

Effective treatment for ADD and ADHD takes a multi-pronged approach so that patients are not relying solely on medications to achieve or maintain overall mental wellness. It includes skills training, the use of medication, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). In dual diagnosis treatment, ADD and ADHD treatment also focuses on the self-image issues that living with untreated attention disorders has caused. 

Skills Training

Skills training in ADD and ADHD treatment is designed to help patients:

  • Manage their anger
  • Limit compulsive behaviors
  • Cope with frustration

Skill training includes practicing conflict resolution, role-playing, coaching, and watching and analyzing videos of positive, beneficial behaviors.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) in ADD and ADHD treatment focuses on managing emotions, mindfulness, effectiveness in interpersonal relationships, and overall distress tolerance.

Medication

While many people with ADD and ADHD self-treat with stimulants, illicit substances like cocaine and methamphetamine have serious side effects. They are also highly addictive and highly likely to cause overwhelming legal, financial, professional, and social problems. Although these substances create the feelings of “normalcy” that people with attention disorders seek, they ultimately cause far more problems than they solve and are hardly sustainable management solutions. However, many patients with ADHD and ADD are prescribed stimulant medications that provide the same calming and focusing benefits, but are not habit-forming and do not have excessive physical, mental, or social side effects.

Strattera

Strattera is a popular prescription medication that reduces impulsive behaviors in those with ADD and ADHD and increases attention span. It works by increasing the amount of norepinephrine in the brain.

Intuniv

Intuniv dials down the adrenaline side of the brain so that those with ADD or ADHD have the same adrenaline levels as people who do not have attention disorders. This drug is an alpha agonist that works well in alleviating symptoms of ADD and ADHD that are not effectively treated with prescription stimulants. 

Treating ADD and ADHD at Absolute Awakenings

At Absolute Awakenings, we know that treating mental health disorders like ADD and ADHD is critical for ensuring long-term success. Our mental health treatment for attention deficit disorders includes:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy and support groups
  • Medical treatment
  • Skill-building workshops
  • Family therapy
  • Life skills development classes
  • Mindfulness activities

We take an individualized approach to meeting the needs of all our clients, and we offer a diverse range of holistic services for promoting optimal health overall.

Get Started With Us Today

Ignoring or self-treating ADD or ADHD by abusing prescription medications is not sustainable. At Absolute Awakenings, we can help you establish a safe and effective management plan for these illnesses. Call us today to find out more about our programs or to start our intake assessment.

Clinically Reviewed By: Candace Kotkin De Carvalho

Passionate about providing individualized treatment for clients of all backgrounds, Candace brings nearly a decade of hands-on experience to her role as the Clinical Director, having recently led the Alternative Recovery and Wellness program at Advanced Health & Education in Eatontown. A Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor, a Licensed Social Worker, a Certified Clinical Supervisor, and a Registered Yoga Teacher, Candace brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the organization.

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