Self-Medicating and ADHD: Is There a More Natural ADHD Treatment for Teens?

The Dangers of Self Medication for ADHD Treatment

Self-medicating for ADHD has become an increasingly popular choice for teens and young adults, especially when they head off to college and are living independently for the first time. As a parent, your job is to be aware of the serious risk of substance abuse and to take an active role to make sure your child doesn’t head down this dangerous path.

Turning to substances as a way to manage ADHD is especially common for teens and young adults who have never been diagnosed or have been misdiagnosed. Some may be unaware that they suffer from ADHD. Others may suspect or have self-diagnosed themselves as having ADHD, but feel like they can manage it without external help. Some have even been diagnosed, but do not seek treatment. But using drugs and alcohol to manage the symptoms of ADHD is incredibly dangerous. It can lead to addiction, create severe health problems, and it does nothing to correct the underlying issue. For this reason, many parents and families seek to find a more natural ADHD Treatment for Teens, through programs including wilderness therapy.

Why Teens And Young Adults Self-Medicate

In order to get your child the help they need, you need to understand the reasons behind their substance abuse. Some of the common reasons that teens and young adults turn to drugs and alcohol to manage their ADHD:

  • Relaxing Socially: Many teens and young adults abuse drugs or alcohol as a way of fitting in or to reduce anxiety in social settings.
  • Focusing Academically: Some high school and college students report using drugs and alcohol as a study aid to concentrate and get homework done, or to make a “boring” lecture more engaging.
  • Improving Mood: Using drugs and alcohol can elevate mood. But, it also causes that mood to crash when the effects have worn off—contributing to a vicious cycle of abuse.
  • Sleeping Better: Some teens use drugs and alcohol because it helps them get to sleep. Unfortunately, a drug-induced sleep does not result in feeling well rested the next day.
  • Biology: There may be a genetic disposition involved in self-medicating ADHD. There’s an increased rate of drug and alcohol use in family members of ADHD sufferers.
  • Behavior Modeling: Teens and young adults also model the behavior of those they are closest to, so seeing family members or peers self-medicate makes it more likely for them to follow suit.
3 Things Parents Can Do
  • As a parent, there are steps you can take to help your child if you suspect they are managing their ADHD with drugs or alcohol:

    Act! Don’t sit idly by as your child heads down a path of self-destruction. Commit to helping your child find a healthy solution to their issues.

    Communicate. Speak with your child and educate them on the dangers of excessive drug and alcohol use. Get your facts together first and know what you want to say. Take an active role in listening to what your child has to say back.

    Seek Help. A doctor can correctly diagnose your child and prescribe medication that is safe and effective. If you’re met with hostility when speaking to your child, seek the help of a school counselor, therapist, or peer to get the message through to your teen. At this age, teens tend to be more receptive to non-parental figures, so you’ll need people on your side who can help.

    ADHD sufferers are five times more likely to become substance abusers. They are also less successful academically, have a higher chance of engaging in criminal activity, and have more difficulty gaining and maintaining employment. If your teen is using drugs or alcohol to treat the symptoms of their ADHD, start with the source: treat the ADHD to resolve the substance abuse issues. If you suspect that your teen is self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, act now, before it escalates into a serious addiction.

Natural Options

Wilderness therapy programs have proven to be an effective treatment option for teens who have struggled with ADHD on a daily basis. In some cases, a more holistic diet in addition to daily exercise significantly reduce and can eliminate the underlying issues of ADHD. Wilderness therapy promotes a more natural diet plan in addition to implementing a more active lifestyle outdoors.  Call Rites of Passage at (800)794-0980 to learn more about natural ADHD Treatment for Teens including our wilderness therapy and wellness programs.