Myth: Non-medical approaches, such as biofeedback, are effective in treating ADD.
Reality: Most specialists, even non-medical professionals, now acknowledge that stimulant medication is the “gold standard” for the treatment of ADD. Certainly, other interventions, such as counseling, coaching, and behavior modification, are useful in tandem with medication. But science has not shown that biofeedback (recently renamed “neural feedback”) has any positive or sustained effect on ADD, although it often has been touted as “the latest non-medical approach.” Consumers should be wary of non-medical practitioners who are not educated about medication or licensed to prescribe it; these are the people most likely to discourage its use. There is a tremendous anti-drug sentiment in the United States, where drug abuse certainly is a problem. However, “drug abuse” is not the same as using legitimately prescribed medication to treat a diagnosed medical condition.
Fortunately, attitudes towards using medication are changing. At one time, there was a fear of using medication to treat depression. Similar fears of using medication have kept terminal cancer patients from getting adequate pain relief. Certainly, nobody would deny prescribed medications to children with diabetes, allergies, or asthma. Today, withholding such medications would be considered to be malpractice.
The impulsivity, distractibility, and hyperactivity of ADD are not volitional and cannot be controlled by willpower alone, any more than one can will weak eyes to see without eyeglasses. Stimulants taken by people with ADD usually have positive, lifeenhancing effects and have been found to be very safe, even with long-term use.