Not-so-quick fix: Behavioral therapy better than drugs in the long run

The Scientific American recently published an article suggesting that “cognitive and behavioral therapies that help young people reduce impulsivity and cultivate good study habits are costlier and take longer to administer [than ADHD drugs], but may be more efficacious over time”.

The article states;

A new synthesis of behavioral, cognitive and pharmacological findings emerged at the recent Experimental Biology meeting, held last month in San Diego, where experts in ADHD research and treatment gathered to present their work. Their findings suggest that behavioral and cognitive therapies focused on reducing impulsivity and reinforcing positive long-term habits may be able to replace current high doses of stimulant treatment in children and young adults…

Psychologist Claire Advokat of Louisiana State University has been looking at the effects of stimulant medications in college students to see what improves with medication and what does not. As expected, she found that people diagnosed with ADHD had lower grades and ACT (American College Testing) scores; they also dropped more classes than their peers. But she also found that these issues were not improved by stimulant medication treatment.

Instead, Advokat’s new findings indicate that the ADHD students naturally divided into those who had good study habits and those who did not, regardless of treatment. If students had good study habits, they did not need the medication to bolster their grades.

(The full article is available at )

Temporarily putting aside concerns with the validity of ADHD as a diagnosable disorder, I welcome the long overdue recognition of what should be obvious. That is, cheap and messy drug interventions may immediately alter behaviour but there are no chemical short cuts to long-term academic success.


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  1. Schalk’s avatar

    The usual crap that seeks to legitimize the bogus “disease” called ADHD
    There is no ADHD. Without a legitimate scientific diagnosis their can be no debate about “treatment”
    How can you possibly “treat” something that does not exist?


  2. martin’s avatar

    Shalk while I agree there diagnosis of ADHD is completely without scientific validity the reality is millions of children worldwide are ‘medicated’ (drugged) for the ‘disorder’. Any evidence that leads to fewer being ‘medicated’, regardless of whether it is conducted by researchers who assume the disorder is valid or not, needs to be publicised.


  3. peter82’s avatar

    Allthough I do not agree with the title ADHD I do belive that some children learn or behave in different ways then others. The fact that many believe we should drug children (and adults) to help “fit in” or learn in a certain institution I believe is outrageous. Its good to see these sorts of studies coming out. I was drugged for 9 years. And I know from my own experience that the trend needs to reverse, trust its all bad! And in my opinion backlash from these medicated kids it going to come to light in the next few years. If not sooner its allready showing you just have to know where to look!


    1. Martin Whitely’s avatar

      Peter82 A culture of prescription amphetamines abuse amongst young adults is just one aspect of the backlash that is already visible in Perth Western Australia. For more details see my earlier blog titled ‘Perth’s Dexamphetamine Hangover’.



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