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ADHD: Behavioral Therapy First Before Drugs

1:30

Researchers have been studying the possible benefits of using behavioral therapy as a first choice in treatment for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

One paper found that children’s ADHD problems improve quicker when behavioral therapy is started initially instead of medications, the New York Times reported. . Another paper noted that this treatment progression is less expensive over time.

If the effectiveness of the behavior therapy-first approach is confirmed in larger studies, experts say it could change standard medical practice for children with ADHD, which currently favors medications as first-line treatments.

Medications were most effective when used as supplemental, second-line treatment for children with ADHD who required the drugs. In many cases, the drugs were effective at doses lower than normally prescribed, according to the findings in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychology.

"We showed that the sequence in which you give treatments makes a big difference in outcomes," study co-leader William Pelham Florida International University, told The Times.

"The children who started with behavioral modification were doing significantly better than those who began with medication by the end, no matter what treatment combination they ended up with," he said.

Some experts noted that the research focused on behaviors and not some of the other complications associated with ADHD such as attention and learning problems.

"I think this is a very important study, and the take-home is that low-cost behavioral treatment is very effective, but the irony is that that option is seldom available to parents," Mark Stein, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Washington, told The Times.

One resource for more information on finding a specialist in behavioral and cognitive therapies is, http://www.abct.org/Home. Click on the “Find a CBT Therapist” link.

Another online resource is, www.additudemag.com, which offers information on the program, COPE (Community Parent Education) and how to locate one in your community.

Story Source: WebMD News from HealthDay, http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/news/20160218/behavioral-therapy-adhd

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