It seems that hardly a week goes by without a new study confirming the effectiveness of non-medical methods in managing ADD/ADHD being published. This trend should be welcomed as it progressively chips away at the false consensus that the drug companies spent millions of dollars to create. This discredited position states that there really only one way to deal with ADD/ADHD. You guessed it: Drugs! We can all understand why the drug companies feel the need to push this line so aggressively â€“ they obviously have shareholders to keep happy. This does not mean, however, that we have to swallow their slick marketing messages hook, line and sinker. Studies challenging their basic assumptions should therefore be enthusiastically welcomed!
The study that I want to focus on this week is actually still ongoing but I have been monitoring it for a while and I am so excited about early results that I just have to share them with you. The study is called Motivation, Inhibition and Development in ADD/ADHD (MIDAS) and it is being conducted at the University of Nottingham in England. What makes it so exciting is that it lets two approaches to dealing with ADD/ADHD namely medicine and environmental changes (motivation) go head to head. A further unique aspect of this research is that results are not measured using subjective criteria (e.g. â€œLittle Johnny concentrates so much better after taking his medicine!â€). It is based on the constant monitoring of brain activity through MRI caps. We can therefore get an accurate picture of the effects of both approaches on actual brain function.
Hereâ€™s how it works: Researchers regularly select children who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and track them doing a specific tasks on a computer. They wear an MRI cap (a device that accurately measures brain waves and activity in different parts of the brain) throughout the exercise. Some of the participants were given stimulants like Ritalin while the other group was motivated through praise and incentives.
The MIDAS project is very careful in the way that it discusses results, making it clear that they are not yet making any recommendations on changes to clinical practice. What is clear even at this early stage however is that behavioral methods have the same impact on the human brain than stimulants (without all the nasty side effect of course!). How do we know this? Well, simply because the study shows that the same areas of the brain â€˜lights upâ€™ when motivational techniques are used than would be the case when research subjects are medicated. This means that the distinction that (so aggressively promoted by the drugs lobby) between supposedly superior â€˜medicalâ€™ and supposedly less effective â€˜psychologicalâ€™ methods of treating ADD/ADHD has very little basis in fact. One of the lead researchers, Margaret Groom, uses very diplomatic language to state the simple fact that behavioral methods can do the same thing that medicines can but implication of what she is saying is clear: “When the children were given rewards or penalties, their attention and self-control was much improved. We suspect that both medication and motivational incentives work by making a task more appealing, capturing the child’s attention and engaging his or her brain response control systems“.
Why do I regard this research as so vitally important? Simply because I am convinced that natural methods can be much more effective than medicines in dealing with the long term consequences of ADD/ADHD. This is not all; making use of natural methods will also avoid some of the shocking side effects commonly associated with the use of stimulants to â€˜treatâ€™ ADD/ADHD. This is obviously a very significant positive consideration. Any approach that avoids things like heart palpitations, depression, aggression, suicidal thoughts and increased openness to addictive behavior should be welcomed with both arms. I will therefore continue to follow the MIDAS study with interest, especially as I believe that it vindicates the approach that I have taken over a number of years, often in the face of intense opposition from those who have vested interests in the selling of ADD/ADHD drugs.
So what is the bottom line? Simply this: Drugs do not offer you a â€˜higher pathâ€™ to wellness in the face of ADD/ADHD. The exact opposite is true actually since their promises do not come to (both in terms of dollars and cents and the devastating impact that these drugs can have). This is exactly why I developed the â€˜3 Stepsâ€™ approach. The â€˜3 Stepsâ€™ clearly shows the way to drug-free management of ADHD. By following the advice and techniques outlined it the best selling â€˜3 Stepsâ€™ book and also by keeping up-to-date through the well researched and relevant articles posted here on the members site you will have a powerful arsenal for conquering ADD/ADHD at your disposal.
I am so thankful that you are on this journey with me and would like to invite you to travel with me as I explore ways to win the battle against ADD/ADHD in ways that sustain and nurture rather than destroy.
More information about the MIDAS study can be found here: