ADHD Treatment for Teens

When a teen or other family member has ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), it can shift relationships and routines in ways that have an effect on the whole family, not just the person who has the condition. Helping someone with ADHD can be a lot to manage and very stressful. However, you can take steps to keep things going as smoothly for everyone as possible. It will be an adjustment, but there is help.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental childhood disorders. Generally, it is first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. There are three types of ADHD that depend on the types of symptoms that are strongest.  They are:

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

In this type, it is difficult for the person to:

  • organize or complete a task
  • pay attention to details
  • follow instructions or conversations

They are also easily distracted or forget details of regular daily routines.

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

In this type, it is difficult for the person to:

  • organize or complete a task
  • pay attention to details
  • follow instructions or conversations

They are also easily distracted or forget details of regular daily routines.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation

With the Type 2 presentation, the person:

  • fidgets
  • talks a lot
  • has a problem listening to directions
  • has a problem with impulsivity
  • frequently interrupts others
  • speaks at inappropriate times
  • has a problem waiting for their turn
  • has a hard time sitting still for a while (for a meal, or while working on homework)

Small children may constantly jump, run, or climb on things.

Combined Presentation

Symptoms of Types 1 and 2 are equally present.

Causes of ADHD

Although the exact cause of ADHD isn’t clear, research is continuing. Some factors that might be involved in the development of ADHD include:

  • Genetics–ADHD can run in families. Research indicates that genes may play a part.
  • Environment–There are certain environmental factors, such as lead exposure as a child, that may increase the risk
  • Developmental problems–Problems with the central nervous system at important moments in development may increase the possibility.

ADHD Risk Factors

The risk for ADHD may increase if:

  • There are blood relatives (such as a parent or sibling), with ADHD or another mental health condition
  • The mother drank alcohol, smoked, or used drugs while pregnant,
  • There was an exposure to environmental toxins, or
  • Premature birth

Symptoms of ADHD in Teens

Most children who get diagnosed with ADHD still have it as teens and the symptoms are very similar to those of ADHD in children. Symptoms include:

  • Easily distracted
  • Disorganized
  • Poor concentration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity

During the teen years, ADHD symptoms may get worse as the hormonal changes of adolescence are happening and extracurricular activities are increasing.

Effects of ADHD on a Teen

Due to the problems of getting distracted and poor concentration, many teens have difficulties in school. If the child isn’t getting ADHD treatment, grades may fall. It’s common for teens with ADHD to:

  • Lose textbooks
  • Forget assignments
  • Become bored with classwork
  • Become inattentive or overly attentive
  • Not wait for their turn and blurt out answers
  • Interrupt the teacher and classmates
  • Rush to finish assignments
  • Be unable to sit still in class

A lot of the time, teens with ADHD are so focused on other things that they forget about the task in front of them. This is especially evident with homework and athletic skills and in relationships with their peers. The lack of attention frequently causes bad test grades, and being passed over for sports teams and after-school activities.

Does Driving Pose a Risk?

Yes, driving does pose unique risks for teens with ADHD. These teens are two to four times more likely to experience a car accident than teens without ADHD. They may be risk-taking, impulsive, thrill-seeking, and immature in their judgment. These traits all make accidents and serious injuries more likely. On the other hand, studies show that teen drivers with ADHD who take the appropriate medication are less likely to have accidents.

Is There a Higher Probability of Alcohol and Drug Abuse?                                  

Yes, teens with ADHD are more likely to be heavy drinkers than those without ADHD, and they are more likely to experience problems from drinking. Studies have shown that these teens were twice as likely as others to have abused alcohol within the past 6 months and three times as likely to abuse drugs (other than marijuana).

Seeking the right treatment for ADHD may help lower the risk of later drug and alcohol abuse. It’s important to address driving privileges with your teen as it relates to their overall ADHD treatment plan. Rules and expectations for safe driving behaviors need to be established.

Parenting a Child With ADHD

It is important to get the child diagnosed as early as possible because there are other conditions that can look like ADHD. Make sure to find out if it really is. Because the condition makes it more difficult for kids to develop the skills that control behavior, attention, emotions, and activity, they often act in ways that are hard for parents to manage. Because they’re inattentive, kids with ADHD may:

  • Appear to be distracted
  • Seem not to be listening
  • Have a problem paying attention
  • Not be able to follow directions
  • Need many reminders
  • Show a lack of effort in school
  • Have problems getting organized

Due to the hyperactivity, kids with ADHD may:

  • Jump, climb, or roughhouse when it’s time to play quietly
  • Seem unable to sit still
  • Make careless mistakes
  • Tend to rush instead of taking their time
  • Seem to be constantly in motion

Since kids with ADHD are impulsive, they may:

  • Interrupt frequently
  • Blurt out
  • Act without thinking
  • Do things they shouldn’t even though they know better
  • Have difficulty taking turns, sharing, or waiting
  • Have emotional outbursts or lose their temper
  • Show a lack of self-control

Parents might not realize that these behaviors are part of ADHD at first. They may think the child is misbehaving and feel embarrassed about what other people think. Parents often wonder if they did something to cause it. The fact is, for kids with ADHD, the skills that control behavior, attention, and activity don’t come naturally.

ADHD affects how parents, siblings, and other family members feel about their everyday lives. For example, kids with ADHD create more demands on parents’ time and attention. This can lead to relationship issues, less family togetherness, and more conflicts. Research has discovered higher divorce rates and depression among parents of an ADHD child, compared to other families.

Managing the Condition

Parents may want to sign up for training on how to manage their child’s condition and the stress it causes them. They may also try joining a support group for families of children with ADHD. They may also want to try:

Behavior management skills

Point systems and positive recognition are used to encourage good behavior. These methods can help improve targeted behaviors like cleaning a room or finishing homework. They don’t typically improve inattention and hyperactivity.


Point systems and positive recognition are used to encourage good behavior. These methods can help improve targeted behaviors like cleaning a room or finishing homework. They don’t typically improve inattention and hyperactivity.

Stay involved

Learn all you can about ADHD and follow the treatment recommended by the healthcare provider. Go to all recommended visits to the therapist. If your child takes medication, give them at the right times, and don’t adjust the dose without checking with the doctor. Keep the medication in a safe place so no one else can get to it.

Know the effects of ADHD on your child

Every child is different so know the problems yours has because of ADHD. Some need to get better at slowing down, while others may need to get better at listening and paying attention. Ask the therapist for ways you can help your child improve.

Focus on one thing at a time

Start small and don’t try to work on everything at once. Pick one thing at a time and praise the child’s effort.

Work with the school

Talk with the teachers often to find out how the child is doing and work with the teacher to help them do well.

Find out if you have ADHD

Because ADHD often runs in families, parents or other relatives might not know if they have it too. When parents get treated, it helps them be better parents.

Co-Occurring Conditions

adhd treatment for teens in Morrill

Other disorders often occur along with ADHD and make treatment more difficult, even though ADHD doesn’t directly cause other psychological or developmental problems. Co-occurring conditions include:

Mood disorders

Many people with ADHD also have bipolar disorder, depression, or a different mood disorder. Although mood problems aren’t caused directly by ADHD, a repeated pattern of failures and frustration due to ADHD can make depression worse.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders can cause overpowering nervousness, worrying, and other symptoms which can be made worse by the setbacks and problems caused by ADHD.

Learning disabilities

People with ADHD may score lower on academic testing than would be expected for their age and education. Learning disabilities may include issues with communicating and understanding.

Other psychiatric disorders

Individuals with ADHD have an increased risk of other psychiatric disorders such as personality disorders, intermittent explosive disorder, and substance use disorders.

What is ADHD Treatment for Teens and Children?

adhd treatment for teens in Morrill, Maine

Even though there isn’t a cure for ADHD, treatments available currently can help reduce symptoms and improve functioning. ADHD is usually treated with education, medication, training, therapy, or a combination of these treatments.


The most common type of medication used to treat ADHD is stimulants. Research has shown these medications to be very effective. But like all medications, they can cause side effects and need to be monitored by the person’s healthcare provider.

Non-stimulant medications are also usable and healthcare providers sometimes prescribe antidepressants to treat children with ADHD. Sometimes several different medications or dosages must be tried before finding what works.


Several psychosocial methods have been proven to help children and their families manage their symptoms and improve daily functioning.

  • Behavioral therapy– Out DBT therapy in Maine helps a person change their behavior. It might include help organizing tasks or finishing schoolwork, learning social skills, or monitoring their own behavior.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy–helps the individual become more aware of concentration and attention issues and improve focus.
  • Family and marital therapy – helps family members learn how to deal with disruptive behavior, encourage changes, and improve their interactions with the child by discussing the right parent involvement in teen therapy.

We also offer other types of therapies including equine therapy programs, art programs and fitness programs. All types of therapy for teens and children require the parents to have an active role. Psychotherapy that only includes individual sessions with the child is not effective for managing ADHD behavior. This is more effective for treating symptoms of depression or anxiety that may co-occur with ADHD.

Parent Support and Education

Parents of a child with ADHD can become educated about the disorder and how it affects the family. Mental health professionals can also help parents and children develop new skills, attitudes, and methods of relating to each other. Support groups can help parents and families connect with other people who have similar situations.

Getting ADHD Treatment for Your Teen

If you suspect that your teen is struggling with ADHD or any other mental health issue, you can find comprehensive treatment at Ironwood Maine residential treatment center for troubled teen. Our residential programs are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and licensed by the State of Maine Department of Education.

At Ironwood, our mental health professionals encourage our residents to work with them to create their treatment plans. We are dedicated to helping your child find solutions in order to live a fulfilling life. To accomplish this, we include behavioral therapies, an academic program, and various enrichment programs. Contact us today. Your teen’s future starts here.

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