Can Adult ADHD Be Improved without Medication?

Michelle Overman LMFT
July 2, 2019

It is very common for children with ADHD to take medication. However, adults might prefer to avoid taking medication. ADHD can be difficult to deal with even as people enter into adulthood. Sometimes it can leave people feeling trapped because they need help managing it but do not want to take medication. There are certain skills and tools adults can work on to help lessen symptoms of ADHD:


Practice mindfulness and meditation. The purpose of mindfulness is to learn how to be in the present moment with your own thoughts and feelings. It teaches people to slow down and become more in tune with themselves. Individuals with ADHD usually feel that their mind is all over the place. The practice of mindfulness can help them begin to train themselves to focus their mind but also even help them become less impulsive.

Make and follow to-do lists. Staying on task can be extremely difficult. It can be helpful to write everything down. It helps people avoid forgetting something they want or need to get done. It also can help individuals stay on task. Once a task is completed, the person can cross it off which can lead to a sense of accomplishment.

Implement general self-care. It is important to eat well, sleep well, and get exercise. The mind and the body are deeply connected. Symptoms of ADHD and other issues are more likely to flare up when people are tired, hungry, or generally do not feel well. Exercise, adequate sleep, and appropriate nutrition can make it easier for people to stay focused on certain tasks and improve decision-making.

Learn to plan ahead. When a deadline is looming or an event is arising, it can be help to provide more time for preparation. The idea is to build in extra time in case distractions occur. Feeling rushed is not an enjoyable feeling, but it can be especially difficult if it happens to a person that already struggles with distractions and staying focused.

Have places for all things. Many people with ADHD struggle with organization which goes beyond the workplace. They might find it difficult to remember where everything is. Create a space for everything. Have a place for wallets, keys, important documents, etc. It saves time and it reduces the amount of stress and frustration that comes with not being able to find something.

Limit distractions. Figure out what is the most distracting and try eliminate it as best as possible. For example, keep the television off and put the phone away. Think about what environments are the most conducive to productivity and completing tasks. Try to create the environment that allows for the least amount of distractions.

Find accountability. At the end of the day, it is helpful to have a support system. Having accountability can be extremely helpful for anyone making a change. Others can follow up to see if things are getting done. They can also provide encouragement. An accountability partner can also be someone who is structured and organized, providing a positive of example to follow.

Everyone is different. What works for some people might not work for other people. It is important that everyone finds their own blend of tools and skills that works for them. Talking to a professional can also be a helpful way to find works and have support along with accountability.

Michelle Overman LMFT

Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in sports psychology. Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master's in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.