Isn’t it best to use medication as a “last resort,” only after other treatments have failed?
Our hearts may say, “Of course, use medication only as a last resort after all else has failed!” because none of us like the notion that medication is required to control behavior. However, when we take the time to reflect on ADD and all of its ramifications, the answer is “No, medication should not be a last resort.”
ADD is a built-in biological difference. It actually prevents a person from taking advantage of all the more palatable treatments: counseling, educational services, behavior management techniques, etc. He can’t pay attention to them!
Asking the ADD individual to take advantage of other treatment strategies without the aide of medication would be like taking my glasses from me and asking me to read the titles of the books on the shelves in my office . . . Impossible!
You could give me all the strategies in the world— offer me tremendous rewards or threaten me with serious consequences— but there is no way I would be able to do it. The built-in problem in the lens of my eye stands in the way.
If you keep pushing me, sooner or later I would either start crying or tell you what you could do with the books! But, if you give me my glasses, bingo, I can read them all. My glasses don’t make me read but they allow me to bypass my hidden handicap and use my other talents and abilities to accomplish the task.
The medications for ADD work the same way . . . they are aides that help the individual bypass the weaknesses in the part of the brain that controls paying attention. As a result, ADD individuals can take advantage of the help we offer and demonstrate just how competent they are!
Here’s some more of my thinking on treating ADD with medication:
The Being Well Center takes a careful, conservative approach to ADD/ADHD medication. We use controlled medication trial testing on a regular basis as part of the ongoing care of our patients.
Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.