AD/HD TIPS

By

Kevin T. Blake, Ph.D., P.L.C.

Licensed Psychologist

CHADD of Tucson at Large Board Member


April 2013


    Adults with AD/HD who take medications to manage their symptoms need to tell their treating physician all the prescription medications, supplements, herbal treatments, over-the-counter remedies, etc. they are taking. Sometimes prescriptions, supplements, etc. will interact negatively with medications used to treat AD/HD. Your treating physician needs to know what else you are taking to help insure the AD/HD medication prescribed for you does not interact with other preparations you are taking to produce harmful side effects. Just because something is a “natural” product does not mean it is safe to take with some prescription medications. Remember, arsenic is a natural substance, but no one would consider taking it. When considering whether or not to tell your physician what you are already taking, always side with disclosing it to them. Additionally, it is also good to always ask your physician what is safe to drink and eat with your AD/HD medications. Sometime alcohol and grapefruit juice, among other things can cause dangerous side effects when combined with AD/HD medications. So be safe. Always tell your physician what you are taking, drinking and eating before trying a new AD/HD medication.


May, 2013

 

For parents of AD/HD children who have AD/HD yourself, it is important for you to treat your AD/HD at the same time you treat your child’s AD/HD. Your child needs parents they can rely upon and untreated AD/HD can put your reliability as a parent in jeopardy. This is in addition to putting your relationships, job, driving, etc. in jeopardy too. Four things are typically needed for an adult to help insure they are properly treated for their AD/HD:

a.      A good diagnostic evaluation.

b.      Learn as much as you can about AD/HD.

c.       Investigate whether medication can be of help for you.

d.      Learn about what work, life accommodations and technology can be helpful and,       use them!

One other thing you can accomplish by treating your own AD/HD is to model for your AD/HD child how to manage their own AD/HD. This can make it easier for them not to be as embarrassed about their AD/HD, taking medication to treat it, and getting accommodations in school to work around it. So by treating your AD/HD you will be making it easier for your child to treat his/hers.


June, 2013

 

Recent research has indicated that those with AD/HD are more at risk of having accidents while operating a motor vehicle than the general population. Those with AD/HD have been found to be four times more likely to have an accident, and/or  to be involved in an accident involving a fatality, also they have many more traffic tickets (especially for speeding) and they are more likely to have driven a car illegally before they had a driver’s license than the general population. Additionally, unmedicated drivers with ADHD who are sober handle a car as well as a person without AD/HD who are legally intoxicated! Finally, there is some evidence that it takes people with AD/HD less alcohol to become intoxicated than it does a person who is not AD/HD (.05% blood alcohol to .08% blood alcohol). The good news is that when a person with AD/HD is properly medicated for their AD/HD while they are driving, their ability to control a car improves to the level of their sober non-disabled peers. This research had caused several auto insurance companies to consider only covering those with AD/HD who are properly medicated for their AD/HD and some states only to grant driver’s licenses to those with AD/HD who are medicated also. In short, the research indicates if you are AD/HD and you drive a motor vehicle you should be on medication to manage your AD/HD symptoms. This will help insure you are a safer driver.


July, 2013


1.      The research is beginning to suggest that adults with AD/HD have a shorter life expectancy than the general population; their lives on average are eight to ten years shorter than the general population. This is such a concern that several life insurance companies are considering not covering people with AD/HD. Those with AD/HD tend to have an impulsive lack of concern for proper dental care, medical care, exercise, hygiene and diet. There is also strong evidence they are more at risk for street drug use and abuse, alcohol use and abuse, tobacco use, head injuries and engaging in dangerous activities (motor cross racing without proper safety equipment, sky diving, driving recklessly, not wearing a seat belt when driving, etc.), especially if they have Conduct Disorder in addition to their AD/HD.

 

Two resent studies out of the Netherlands have indicated that adults with AD/HD have significantly poorer dental health than the general population. These researchers found adults with AD/HD are far more likely not to brush and floss their teeth regularly as well as not having biannual dental check-ups.

 

What may help an adult with AD/HD to avoid such bleak outcomes? Start paying attention to their health! If you are an adult with AD/HD find out you family’s medical history. What diseases run in your family? Find out who suffers from which diseases in your family as well as what deceases family members died of. Make a record of this information and store it with your important papers in a way you can find it immediately. Find out your medical history. If your parents, or childhood guardians are still alive ask them and ask your physician. Make a record of this and put it in a place you can quickly find it.

 

Schedule an annual check-up with your physician and dental check-up every six months. Share your personal and family medical history with the medical professionals who are work with you. If you have an injury or illness go to the doctor to have it treated. If you are concerned about alcohol, tobacco, and/or street drug use, seek treatment.  Try to improve your diet. If you are not sure how to easily make nutritious meals ask you physician for a referral to a nutritionist. Get regular exercise. Work with your physician to develop an exercise program you can stick with. Such changes are not easy. You may want to work with an AD/HD coach to help you attain these goals. Usually, it takes about three weeks to break old habits and to create health ones (with the exceptions of addictions). A coach can often give you the encouragement you need to make it to your goals. Best of luck! 


August 2013


        Arguably, the world’s leading authority on AD/HD is Dr. Russell Barkley, a professor at the University of South Carolina. Recently, I was listening to an audio recording of a lecture he gave in 2008 where he said if a person with AD/HD was to take a test in school within an hour it would be better for them to take a 30 minute run than for them to study 30 minutes before the test. That may sound like an oxymoron, but it really is not. As John Ratey, M.D. wrote in his book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (Ratey, J.J. (2008). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Science and the Brain. New York, NY: Little, Brown.), aerobic exercise creates more dopamine, a neurotransmitter that people with AD/HD have been found to be lacking in their brains. It is the same neurotransmitter most medications for AD/HD create in the brain. Around 45 minutes of aerobic exercise can produce enough extra dopamine in the brains of people with AD/HD that their focus will benefit for as long as 90 minutes post exercise. The exercise boosts what the individual’s medication does for them for that period after exercise. Exercise can also reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as improve cardiovascular health. Many people with AD/HD have poor health due to impulsive neglect of self-care. Daily aerobic exercise can help to reverse that process.

 

Additionally, the Naperville, Illinois school district instituted a program where all high school students must do 45 minutes of aerobic exercise every day before school. Immediately after the exercise they took their most difficult classes. In a very short time their grades improved significantly. The school district continues this program today and is considered one of the best in the country. So exercise can even improve academic achievement. What should you do if you are a person with AD/HD who wants to begin an aerobic exercise program? First, talk with your physician and have them come up with an appropriate program for you. Take that program to a fitness center and have one of the trainers tailor a specific program for you. Doing exercise the right way will help you make gains faster and help make sure you don’t injure yourself. Have fun exercising your way to attention!


September, 2013

Most people have heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but not many have heard of the Americans with Disability Act, Amendment Act of 2008.  The new act makes it easier for a person to establish they have a legally defined disability. The bill directed the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) to redefine the term “substantially limits”. It expanded the list of “major life activities” to include such things as reading, walking, bending, communicating, etc.  The bill included bodily functions like difficulties of the immune system, normal cell growth, bowel functions, etc. It continues by stating if a person has perfect  hearing while wearing hearing aids they are still disabled. This would include a person with AD/HD who has no difficulties with attention while taking medication; they would still be considered disabled. Finally people with episodic or temporary disabilities are better protected. If you are an adult with AD/HD and you want to learn more about the “New ADA” and how it may effect you at work and/or school settings go to the following link: www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_notice.cfm.  You can also contact the Arizona Center for Disability Law: www.acdl.com.