A father and son are working together on homework
There are many different ways of treating ADHD without meds, examples include lifestyle and dietary changes to building a routine.

Treating ADHD Without Meds: Is It Possible?

Fact: 4.4 percent of the adult US population has ADHD, but less than 20 percent seek professional help for it.

So it’s no surprise you’re wondering whether you should or shouldn’t use medication to treat your ADHD.

I don’t think you should. But the truth is medication currently makes a positive difference in the lives of millions of children and adults with ADHD.

At the same time, ADHD medication also comes with its own risks and costs. There is no guarantee everyone will experience the same “great” results from taking ADHD medication.

Tips for Treating ADHD Without Meds

For those who do want to treat their ADHD without medication, you have options. And I’m talking about proven options, not cash-grab supplements.

This article will explain all your options for treating ADHD without meds so you can figure out which is best for you.

1. Go Somewhere Green and Be Active 20 Minutes Every Day

Research suggests people with ADHD who go out in nature for at least 20 minutes every day have reduced ADHD symptoms.

Being active is already a good way to stay healthy, this just gives you another reason to go out and do what you should already be doing. This goes for both children and adults.

  • Benefit: Reduced ADHD symptoms and a healthier you.
  • Costs: Free.
  • Risk: Near zero.

2. Try Parental or Behavioral Therapy

I’m no fan of therapy, but this may be the best option for you if things are getting out of control. Behavioral therapy will zero in on a specific problematic behavior, solve it, and move on to the next one until there are none left. Many medical professionals say this therapy is most effective when combined with medication.

And if you’re a parent, parental therapy will teach you the skills you need to rear an ADHD child. It's definitely a worthwhile investment if you’re at your wit’s end.

  • Benefit: Solves problematic behaviors.
  • Costs: Skyhigh.
  • Risk: Near zero.

3. Learn to Play an Instrument

Yes, I’m serious. A study found children who play musical instruments have greater executive function than children who don’t play instruments. (Executive function refers to your ability to control your actions and thinking.)

While anyone can learn to play an instrument, it’s best to start before the age of 7. The younger you start, the more you benefit.

  • Benefit: Increased connectivity within the brain (helps you process information faster) and increased sense of hearing, touch and sight.
  • Costs: Affordable.
  • Risk: Near zero.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Fun fact: mindfulness originated from Buddhism as a way to become more connected with the world around you and to develop wisdom.

Practicing mindfulness is a fancy way to describe how you train yourself to feel what is happening around you. You can practice mindfulness through yoga and meditation. Another way you can practice is by spending time by yourself and thinking about your circumstances.

  • Benefit: Less stress, more insight, and wisdom.
  • Costs: Free.
  • Risk: Near zero.
You May Also Like

5. Eat a Healthy Diet

Having a healthy diet reduces ADHD symptoms and improves your life. Eat fruits and veggies, whole grains, and drink tons of water. You will be healthy.

What’s also equally important is that you avoid:

  • Processed food
  • Fast food
  • Food coloring and other additives
  • Junk food

The takeaway:

  • Benefit: More energy and focus, increased executive function.
  • Costs: Affordable if you can give up your favorite unhealthy foods.
  • Risk: 99 percent chance of relapse.

6. Go to Sleep on Time

You can’t treat your ADHD without meds or even with meds if you don’t go to sleep on time. Restful sleep recharges your brain, which is already hampered (and in some ways enhanced) by ADHD.

If you don’t go to sleep on time, your symptoms are almost guaranteed to worsen.

I know how hard it is to go to bed on time with ADHD, trust me. When I was younger, I went through periods of insomnia, which you are at a higher risk for when you have ADHD. Luckily I shook off insomnia.

My solution and I came up with this a couple of weeks ago, is to set 4 alarms that go off an hour before bedtime, every 15 minutes. The alarms keep me on track by reminding me I need to be getting ready for bed. I have heard that some people take melatonin for their ADHD sleep problems – but you should look more into that before you start taking them.

  • Benefit: Whole life improves, reduced ADHD symptoms.
  • Costs: Free… yet... is anything in this life genuinely free?
  • Risk: Zero (for once).

7. Create Structure with a To-Do List

Yeah, I saved the best for last since half the people who read this will scroll straight down here anyway.

You can’t realize the beauty of structure until you have ADHD. Think of people in the military or a hospital. These institutions use a structure in the form of rules, duty, and chain of command to keep everyone stable.

Without structure, you have no stability. So how do you get that good ole structure? Take out a piece of paper and something to write with. Then write "to-do list" on the top. Then write down everything you need to do today.

Tada! You have created an external form of structure. (Hospitals and military instill structure into their personnel, but with a to-do list, you create your own.)

Having a to-do list keeps you accountable and focused. It’s a plan you can look at for direction anytime you get lost. As someone with ADHD and my own business, it’s saved my butt more times than I can count.

I find writing your to-do list on paper makes it easier to keep track of since you can actually touch it and see it without having to go through a digital menu.

  • Benefit: Accountability.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Risk: Zero.

The Bottom Line

While there isn't a right or wrong way to treat ADHD without medication, it should be noted that different approaches work for different people.

If something on this list doesn't help you with your ADHD symptoms, try something else until you find that one (or two) things that help you manage your ADHD. Everyone is different, and you are unique.