ADHD Symptoms Reduced Through ADHD Treatment Utilizing Behavior Modification

In a recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Behavior Modification proves to be an effective treatment for child ADHD.

Behavioral modification reduces need for high medication doses, and can be as effective as medicine.

Behavioral modification effectively and significantly reduces symptoms of ADHD both as a primary treatment method, and adjunctive.

Two common treatment methods for children with ADHD have been pharmaceutical medication and behavior therapy. A recent study headed by Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Children and Families, William E. Pelham, Ph.D., of the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Florida International University,  demonstrates the benefit of incorporating behavior therapy into treatment, including treatment that utilizes medication treatment for ADHD. Additionally, the benefits of medication-intensive treatment as a primary form of treatment is robustly questioned. Behavior therapy has been demonstrated to be a positive intervention with or without the use of ADHD medication. For those who incorporate behavior therapy in their treatment, the dosage of medication can be reduced, with positive results. The authors of the study conclude, “Behavior modification produced effects as large as moderate doses, and on some measures, high doses of medication. “

This double-blind study,  as reported on in Attention Research Update by Duke University Research Scientist David Rabiner, Ph.D, included a placebo and real medicine variation. ADHD patients were given low to high levels of behavior therapy combined with ADHD drug treatment, or behavior modification without drug treatment. The research indicated that behavior therapy, both with or without medication treatment for ADHD, was associated with a significant level of symptom improvement in numerous ways.

High intensity behavior management effectively reduced ADHD symptoms when combined with standard or high dosages of stimulant medication. It was also demonstrated that the lowest medication levels, when paired with even the simplest level of behavior therapy, yielded positive results of symptom reduction, comparable to the results when high medication doses were prescribed.

Thus, it was demonstrated that children suffering from ADHD might benefit greatly if behavior therapy is added to any level of medication treatment for ADHD, and that behavior modification as a primary treatment method can be very effective and result in symptom reduction. This can allow for lower prescription dosages while achieving the same or better results in symptom reduction. Behavior therapy combined with the lowest medication dosages can be as effective as use of higher level medication dosages alone. This implies that unwanted symptoms from using high levels of medication, such as growth suppression, appetite reduction, jitteriness, insomnia, etc., can be largely avoided with the implementation of behavior modification.

Although there were limitations to the study and there are further details that the authors of the study feel should be addressed, the study demonstrates that the practice of  utilizing low or high intensity behavior-therapy integrated with ADHD treatment is effective, and provides compelling evidence that complete recovery from ADHD does not fully spring from chemicals and pills. Behavior modification is a very effective treatment approach.

Bibliography and Resources:

Rabiner, D. 2014, February. Reducing the Need for High Medication Doses w/ Behavior Therapy. Attention Research Update.

William E. Pelham, Lisa Burrows-MacLean, Elizabeth M. Gnagy, Gregory A. Fabiano, Erika K. Coles, Brian T. Wymbs, Anil Chacko, Kathryn S. Walker, Frances Wymbs, Allison Garefino, Martin T. Hoffman, James G. Waxmonsky, Daniel A. Waschbusch. (2014, January). A Dose-Ranging Study of Behavioral and Pharmacological Treatment in Social Settings for Children with ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

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