How to Treat ADHD without Medication

“How to treat ADHD without medication” is a troubling question that many parents encounter. This article eases the mind of parents and offers solutions. 

The article answers questions that puzzle parents on a daily basis. For example, why treat ADHD without medication, can you treat ADHD without medication, how to treat ADHD without medication, and so much more. We hope this article relieves any unwanted stress a parent may have.

This article covers all the basics of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and its symptoms. In addition, our mental health experts answer the common question – “does ADHD go away?”

Does ADHD go away?

Why treat ADHD without medication?

Can you treat ADHD without medication?  

How to Treat ADHD Without Medication ?

What can happen if you don’t treat ADHD in children?

What happens if you leave ADHD untreated in adults?

                        Does ADHD go away? 

How to Treat ADHD without Medication

So, does ADHD go away? We covered this question in our last blog. But, as a refresher, we will touch on this topic again. 

Researchers have found that children can outgrow their ADHD symptoms. However, in some cases, ADHD does not go away and can persist into adulthood.

Our article “Does ADHD Go Away?” discusses this topic in detail, including the ages at which ADHD peaks and the symptoms of ADHD.

For those wondering how to treat ADHD without medication, let’s first look at why you would want to treat ADHD without medication.

Why treat ADHD without medication?

Psychologist Nancy A. Neef stated that we don’t know the long-term side effects of stimulant medications. She also indicated something crucial – medication doesn’t address the problems related to children’s academic performance and relationships with family members, peers, and others. Neef notes that, although medication is beneficial, it isn’t a cure-all.

As a result of these downsides to medication, many parents wonder how to treat ADHD without medication. But, first things first – can you treat ADHD without drugs? Let’s take a look.

Can you treat ADHD without drugs?

The answer to the common question “Can you treat ADHD without medication” is – YES. In fact, there are many ways to treat children and adults without using drugs.

In the next section, you will learn specific techniques for how to treat ADHD without medication.

How to Treat ADHD Without Medication 

There are many ways to treat ADHD without prescriptions. 5 of the most effective ways to treat ADHD without medication include:

  1. Parent and Teacher Help 
  2. Sleep
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditation and Mindfulness
  5. Music Therapy 

Let’s dive in deep and learn about each approach.

Parent and Teacher Help 

Classroom teachers and parents play a pivotal role in children learning and changing their behavior. 

Parents create achievable and manageable goals for their children. For example, sitting at the dinner table for ten minutes and giving an award after achieving this goal. On the other hand, classroom teachers can send home report cards to inform parents whether their child is displaying good behavior and meeting behavior goals. 

If your child has ADHD, having their teacher grade their behavior at 20- 1 hour intervals is a great idea. This should include grading behaviors like staying seated, staying on task and being respectful to others. 

Don’t be discouraged if your child was diagnosed at a later age. A coach or teacher can create a tracking system for their assignments, books, or papers. In fact, this approach is usually the most effective because, as WebMD states, “with a parent, [organizing tasks] can come across as nagging.”(Can You Treat ADHD Without Drugs?, 2015) 

How to Treat ADHD without Medication Through Positive Sleep Habits

Getting an extra half-hour of sleep can be monumental for a child with restlessness and impulsivity. 

Children with ADHD encounter sleep issues, and creating a regular regimen can help. A few sleep habits to focus on include:

  • Establishing a consistent bedtime (even on weekends).
  • Keeping the bedroom cold and dark. 
  • Creating a soothing winding-down ritual. 
  • Removing any screens before bedtime (for example, take TVs, phones, computers, and video games out of the bedroom. This will ensure your child isn’t distracted or tempted).


A child can focus and organize their thoughts better after 30 minutes of exercise. Swimming is an excellent alternative if your child doesn’t have the best coordination.

Meditation and Mindfulness 

Another great way to treat ADHD without medication is meditation. A small study found that children and adults had fewer symptoms when they completed an 8-week mindfulness-training program. However, if a child and parent want to incorporate this technique, they have to be consistent, or it won’t be helpful.

How to Treat ADHD without Medication Through Music Therapy

The rhythm and structure of music can strengthen social skills and attention. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been complex research on whether or not playing music decreases the symptoms of ADHD. However, it is proven they do much better on executive function tests. This is when the brain is able to organize and easily switch between tasks. 

If your child isn’t interested in playing music, this is an easy fix. They can play music which calms them down long enough to finish their homework. A hormone called dopamine is released when you listen to music. Additional work needs to be done with linking music to ADHD symptoms, but it’s an area worth exploring!

What can happen if you don’t treat ADHD in children?

As parents, we often battle with the question, “Should I use medication or not?” But, have you ever asked the question, “ What happens if I don’t use medication for ADHD?” 

A child who isn’t appropriately treated can display different behaviors, and this can result in them creating bad habits, like the following:

  1. Substance abuse issues.
  2. Failing a grade in school. 
  3. High suspension rates from school. 
  4. Failure to complete high school.
  5. Pregnancy (or cause an unwanted pregnancy) which may lead to sexually transmitted diseases. 
  6. Traffic fatality, etc.

What happens if you leave ADHD untreated in adults?

MedicalNews Today states six outcomes when leaving ADHD untreated in adults. 

  1. Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety. Women with ADHD symptoms are more prone to experience low self-esteem. Also, other conditions can develop if they experience chronic stress, such as fibromyalgia.
  2. Difficulty in relationships. In a 2016 small study, researchers discovered that spouses of people with ADHD felt more neglected than those living with individuals without ADHD symptoms. They also found that husbands of women with ADHD were less responsive and supportive than wives of men with ADHD.
  3. Job instability. Individuals with ADHD are less likely to complete high school and college. This can lead them to have difficulty establishing a stable income. Additionally, they may lose focus while at work, making it more difficult to find and hold a job.
  4. Negative parent-child interactions. There can be conflict and a lack of controlling their emotions when parenting.
  5. Drug and alcohol misuse. An individual with untreated ADHD is more likely to misuse alcohol and rely on nicotine.
  6. Increased mortality rate. The mortality rate was higher in individuals who received their diagnoses in adulthood compared to those who received their diagnoses in childhood. A 2015 study found that mortality was higher in individuals with ADHD. 

Are you interested in how to treat ADHD without medication? The James Bentley Treatment Program can help. Our ADHD specialists will work with your child to create positive habits and behaviors. In addition, we’ll help your child develop essential social skills and work to modify disruptive behaviors.

Call us today to get started.


  1. Can You Treat ADHD Without Drugs? (2015b, August 4). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/can-you-treat-adhd-without-drugs