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The Correlation Between ADHD and Substance Abuse

We have a guest writer for this article, Trevor McDonald, who has written extensively about the correlation between ADHD and substance abuse, addiction and recovery — issues that, sadly, are disproportionately part of the ADHD world.  Here he talks about a very important topic many of us with ADHD can unfortunately relate to…

The thought of putting a young child on ADHD medication, typically a stimulant, can be scary. So when parents are faced with this choice, the guard naturally goes up. But this may also be due in part to some myths and misinformation regarding the correlation between ADHD and substance abuse.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: ADHD medication has not been shown to be a gateway to other drugs. It is a legitimate treatment that provides relief for up to 80% of those properly diagnosed and treated. Where things get confusing is when we hear about how ADHD medications are often abused. But a question is, who is abusing them?

Who is Abusing ADHD Medications?

Adderall and Ritalin are the most commonly abused ADHD drugs: they’ve become widely known as “study drugs.” Ask anyone on a college campus and they can probably get you some “addys.” College students are likely to abuse these drugs to help with coursework and studying. If you’ve ever taken an ADHD medication, you understand why.

These drugs certainly won’t make you smarter, but they will help you focus and remain energized enough to get work done. A 2014 survey by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reported that 20 percent of college kids were abusing prescription stimulants. We can only suspect that this number has increased in subsequent years.

ADHD Medications and Substance Abuse

Perhaps surprisingly, studies have shown that when children are prescribed ADHD medications early in life, they are less likely to develop a substance abuse disorder. Still, there is a strong correlation between substance abuse and ADHD. This is often because undiagnosed as well as diagnosed ADHD adults and teens are using drugs and/or alcohol as “self-medication.”

Among teenagers with ADHD, marijuana is a popular choice. A Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry study found that while 7 percent of all teens smoke marijuana, 13 percent of teens with ADHD use the drug.

Think You Might Have a Substance Abuse Issue?

If even suspect you have a problem with substance abuse, reach out to a counselor with ADHD experience. They are most qualified to help you with both recovery and with the symptoms of your ADHD. The correlation between ADHD and substance abuse is a serious and complicated issue, so don’t go it alone — and know that you’re not alone.

Guest Author’s Bio: Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying just about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

You can learn more about Trevor and follow his work at his website by clicking here. A big thanks again to him for contributing!

I also gave TED Talk few years ago that relates to this topic that you may find informative. You can watch it by clicking here.




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5 Easy ADD Alternative Treatments for Back to School or Work

BTS ADHD1Well, by now we’re all likely back at school and certainly back at work – including the work of that brutal job called running a household…accompanied by our teen or adult ADHD and maybe even an ADHD kid or two. Every September we post a fresh batch of Back-to-School/Work ADD alternative treatment tips (i.e., things that don’t require a doctor visit!), and here we are, two-thirds into the official month of BTS/W. So….here they are…

BTS/W Tip#1: Remember that SUGAR SUCKS, CARBS KILL and to FEED YOUR BRAIN RIGHT!! Diet is the foundation of your brain’s day (which is why Feed Your Brain is Way ONE in the Crusher curriculum); if you’re eating crap, it’ll be a longer, crappier day at the office or on campus. Skip the sugary cereal, the useless muffin and the disgraceful donut. Go for a protein-based breakfast (and lunch, and snacks) and you’ll immediately feel the difference in your mental fuel tank. Here’s a free snippet from Video I/Way 1, with a little more on ADD diet.

BTS/W Tip #2: When your mind becomes worn engaging study or a tough task, execute a VENUE CHANGE — pick up and move somewhere else. To another room or  even just another chair. Or to the back porch or a coffee shop. The movement gets blood back to your brain…the brief break rests your brain muscles…and the new environment gives you a psychological fresh start. Of all the ADD alternative treatments I use, the power of this simple change-up has surprised me the most. And if you’ve got a spare two minutes before you sit back down, do a Power Pose.

BTS/W Tip #3: Consider getting a coach. Even if you only do a handful of sessions, you can make huge strides with a great coach’s counsel. And increasingly there are opportunities for GROUP coaching, making it very affordable. Here’s a list of some of the top ADHD coaches.

BTS/W Tip #4: Don’t make your ADHD worse than it needs to be!!! There’s a bunch of stuff you’re probably doing every day that will make school/work tougher. Ain’t NO need fa dat!!! Get the free eBook, “5 Things You’re Doing Every Day that Make Your ADHD Worse” at ASAP!

BTS/W Tip #5: Keep your workspace visually clean. Clutter is not only a reminder of your many un-done to-do’s, it affects your ability to focus on the task at hand. Keep a basket or box nearby to store miscellany. Make the surface of your desk like a clear blue sky. While not one of the easiest ADD alternative treatments to execute, once the clearing is complete, you’ll be quite relieved and more eager and able to focus.

I’m not a big proponent of Top 10 Lists of anything, including ADD alternative treatment tips – because they tend to get read but not put into action, since you’re getting too many ideas thrown at you at once. This is why I limit lists to fewer. And in fact, my suggestion is to bite off just ONE of these and make it happen — just pick the one that resonated with you most. Then come back for more.

Wishing you a crushingly good return to school…or work…or the messy house…


P.S.: For a limited time we’ve turned on last year’s Back-to-School coupon code — BTS15 — so take advantage of it to save 15% on any risk-free purchases of our acclaimed videos that were selected as a CHADD Innovative Program. Get crushing and use code BTS15 here before we shut it off!

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab


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3 Simple Tricks for Battling ADHD Overwhelm

How do you deal with the feeling of overwhelm?  You know — when your to-do list is so long it hurts to even look at it…there’s a constant nagging worry that things are falling through the cracks and you’re gonna get burned big-time. Worst of all, no solution or end in sight. Reality is, few of us really deal with a surge of overwhelm. Some just keep chugging through it, some temporarily check out (escape), others totally freak out.

Before my adult ADHD diagnosis, my way of “dealing” was booze and drugs. I checked out whenever I could…and ended up a junkie. Not very effective. Post-drugs, my new way of battling overwhelm was to just work harder. More hours. More coffee. More ignoring friends and family. Not healthy.

Gradually I adopted what I call Practical Zen Brain Hacks. And as I write this blog, I’m about to head to the ADHD Coaches Organization Conference in Phoenix, where I’ll present some of my Zen Brain Hacks to ADHD coaches from around the world, among whom such natural remedies for ADD adults are an important addition to their toolbox.

Here are three of the tricks I’ll be sharing, each a simple-yet-powerful way to quiet the gut-churning, totally unnerving, emotionally disturbing state of overwhelm…

1. Check Into the Now

We’re naturally wired with a bias towards negativity.  Seeing things as more “threatening” kept us from becoming lunch when wandering away from our cave. But we’re not living in caves any more.

So when you’re tempted to check out or freak out when in a state of overwhelm, step back from the edge and recognize that, right here and now, even in this moment of overwhelm and stress, there actually is no serious threat or problem – because if there were, you would already be attending to it.

In other words, if you really faced a serious issue right now, you would’t be reading this blog – you’d be dealing with that issue. Upshot: there is no problem in the Now.

In the Now, we are freed up to act more powerfully:

…to NOT be paralyzed by that intimidating to-do list.

…to NOT check/freak out.

…and instead, to think more clearly and creatively about dispatching with a to-do.


Get into the Now more often, and your to-do list can start looking – or at least feeling — a lot more like this.

2. Stop Trying to Finish

Overwhelm is made worse when we realize that finishing even a few to-do’s seems impossible. That feeling paralyzes us…so we can’t even START, let alone finish. I say, screw finishing! Forget about finishing!

The brilliant Dr. Neil Fiore says, “Keep starting – finishing will take care of itself. If you must worry, worry about starting, never worry about finishing.” I.e., never look at a big project and say, “I have to finish that dang thing”. Cuz the thought of having to finish abets procrastination: the more painful a task is perceived to be, the more we try to avoid it.

So never set out to “finish” anything. Just start it. Again. And again. You’ll be more likely to take action (and ultimately, finish).

3. Flush the Brain Toilet

Overwhelm grows out of accumulation. Things build up. Stress builds up. And our brains get backed up. Yet a healthy shot of brain Drano® is simply to do something exhilarating, or at least invigorating. E.g.:

  • About once a month I have to race my motorcycle. I call it “flushing my brain toilet”. If I don’t, my brain plumbing starts to feel clogged. Seriously. Granted, that’s an extreme form of exhilaration; but you can flush your pipes with something that’s a little scary (try something new!), really beautiful (a fabulous sunset) or somehow inspiring (see an intense live performance).
  • You can also do something invigorating right now. Drop and do 20 push-ups. Stand up, head outside and go around the block. I guarantee when you get back in your chair you’ll be less stressed and better able to get stuff DONE!


How do you flush your brain toilet?

What exhilaration and invigoration have in common is changing your brain chemistry: boosting your good stuff (dopamine, etc.) and repressing your bad stuff (cortisol, etc.). Super-simple. Super-effective.

…as are all such Practical Zen Brain Hacks. More of these to come in future blogs, and of course a few are taught in the Crusher videos.

Hope you can soon put these to work undercutting that overwhelm!

Flush ‘til you crush!


P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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ADD and ADHD in Adults

A common ADHD myth holds that ADD and ADHD in adults is, um, a myth. Well, as mentioned in What Is ADD?, an estimated 60% of adults who suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder as children continue to suffer into adulthood. It’s believed that for the other 40%, the hormonal changes one undergoes in puberty tend to mitigate the symptoms.

Overwhelm-Decision-ADHDOne researcher, Philip Shaw, said in an article in the Washington Post, “While a lot of people with ADHD do improve with age, as many as two-thirds still have symptoms of the disorder which persist into adulthood”. Among possible explanations, the article goes on to say, there may be more than one genetic variant of the disorder, or perhaps some kids have other conditions that are responsible for their symptoms

Obviously, the trials and tribulations of sufferers are in many ways distinct from those of children and teens. For instance, career, family and social relationships and life fulfillment can be problematic. This is why Crusher™ Videos and Audio Companions were created – to help adults to crush their symptoms and have a shot at tapping into their unlimited potential. Alan Brown, the creator of the ADD Crusher™ series, is himself a diagnosed ADD adult, having developed the Crusher™ strategies that helped him become a successful executive, investor and entrepreneur.

Bottom Line: The sooner an adult gets diagnosed and treated, the sooner he or she can get busy crushing his or her ADD/ADHD. Take an Adult ADD Test right now!

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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ADD In the Corner Office

ADD in the Corner Office: Five top executives discovered that an LD can be a capitalist tool

They reveal their struggles in school —  and their secrets for success!

By Lois Gilman, ADDitude Magazine


As students, they seemed to be heading nowhere — fast. A teacher hurled an eraser at one of them, and asked, “Time passes, will you?” Another graduated at the bottom of his high school class and was strongly advised by his principal to go into carpet laying. A third was labeled lazy by her teachers because she had trouble memorizing basic math facts. A fourth was a whiz with numbers but found reading a book a difficult task. The last was always falling behind in his schoolwork and concluded that he was stupid. “How am I going to be successful in anything if I can’t read and write?” he wondered.

You might say that these nowhere kids turned their lives around. They are, in order, Alan Meckler, chairman and CEO of Jupitermedia; Paul Orfalea, founder of the copying empire, Kinko’s; Diane Swonk, a world-renowned economist; Charles Schwab, a pioneer in the discount brokerage business; and David Neeleman, founder and CEO of JetBlue Airways.

Besides having difficulty in school, these executives share another thing in common: They all suffer from AD/HD or learning disabilities. Neeleman has AD/HD; Swonk, Meckler, and Schwab have dyslexia, and Orfalea has both. Each managed to turn his or her liabilities into assets on their respective career paths. If you have difficulty with organization, reading, or remembering math facts, these entrepreneurs prove that such limitations don’t preclude a bright future.


Flying High: David Neeleman

Founder, JetBlue Airways

If someone told me you could be normal or you could continue to have your ADD, I would take ADD,” says Neeleman, who foregoes medication to manage the condition. “I’m afraid of taking drugs once, blowing a circuit, and then being like the rest of you.”

Countless airline passengers are thankful that Neeleman skipped the medication. If he hadn’t, perhaps JetBlue Airways wouldn’t have gotten off the drawing board. Neeleman prided himself on thinking out of the box when creating the airline. “With the disorganization, procrastination, inability to focus, and all the other bad things that come with ADD, there also come creativity and the ability to take risks,” he explains.

Neeleman boldly told the New York media, “We want to be New York’s new low-fare, hometown airline.”

His statement could be interpreted as naïve confidence or remarkable chutzpah, coming, as it did, from a third-generation Mormon from Utah. Despite the myriad naysayers — from the venture capitalists who walked away from investing in the budding airline to the media — Neeleman changed the flying experience by introducing such innovations as live in-flight television and unparalleled customer service — on a discount airline.

“I knew I had strengths that other people didn’t have, and my parents reminded me of them when my teachers didn’t see them,” says Neeleman. “I can distill complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can look out on an industry with all kinds of problems and say, ‘How can I do this better?’ My ADD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things.”

Neeleman’s personal life isn’t the same success story. “My wife can’t always figure out what the heck I’m thinking, and my kids want me to focus on just one thing with them. I find it difficult. It’s hard for me to do the mundane things in life. I have an easier time planning a 20-aircraft fleet than I do paying the light bill.”

Neeleman does try to rein in his wandering mind. At the office, he surrounds himself with people who are good at the details of the business. “My assistant helps me write letters and keeps my calendar,” he says. “I have no idea what I’m doing one day to the next.” At home, he has trained himself to put his wallet and keys in the same place so he doesn’t lose them. He also wears a Casio DataBank watch, which allows him to type in reminders of appointments or ideas as they pop up.

“Life is full of trade-offs,” he says, “and living with my untreated ADD is one of them.”

His advice for fellow ADDers? “Look at the positives of having ADD,” he says, “and don’t get discouraged. Don’t ever give up.”


Copy Chief: Paul Orfalea

Founder, Kinko’s

He flunked second grade, did poorly in high school, and got C’s and D’s in college. But that didn’t stop Orfalea, who is dyslexic and has “ADD to the max,” from becoming an entrepreneur. Instead, it motivated the curly, red-haired executive (nicknamed Kinko) to exceed everyone’s expectations.

The idea for Kinko’s came to Orfalea in 1970, while he was a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He noticed all the people lined up to pay 10 cents a page to use the library photocopier. He decided he could provide the service cheaper. Orfalea borrowed $5,000 and opened his first Kinko’s in a converted hamburger stand near the university. It was equipped with a lone Xerox machine. Today, his copying empire, which FedEX now owns, is worth $2.4 billion, and Orfalea, 56, has retired.

“My learning disability gave me certain advantages, because I was able to live in the moment and capitalize on the opportunities I spotted,” says Orfalea, as he looks back on his career. “With ADD, you’re curious. Your eyes believe what they see. Your ears believe what others say. I learned to trust my eyes.” So when customers came into his store looking to use a computer — not to copy documents — Orfalea saw an opportunity. He expanded Kinko’s to include computers. As a result, the company captured many small business owners as customers, as well as the self-employed.

His ADD provided him with the right temperament on which to build the business. “Because I have a tendency to wander,” he explains, “I never spent much time in my office. My job was going store to store, noticing what people were doing right. If I had stayed in my office all the time, I would not have discovered all those wonderful ideas to help expand the business.” A Kinko’s that remained open for 24 hours was an idea he picked up from his steady customers.

“I can’t write a letter and I can’t fix a machine,” says Orfalea. “My biggest advantage is that I don’t get bogged down in the details, because of my ADD. I hire capable people to handle that.”

Looking back on his own education, Orfalea believes that different children have different learning styles, and that the education system needs to recognize that fact before more children are left behind. “If the President’s No Child Left Behind had been around when I was in school,” says Orfalea, “I would still be in third grade, because that’s how bad a speller I am.” And we would all be without our neighborhood Kinko’s.


The Internet Mogul: Alan M. Meckler

Chairman and CEO, Jupitermedia

My lack of concentration, my inability to read charts, and my difficulty in deciphering documents made me a much better business person,” says Meckler, 59. “And my lack of patience forced me to cut to the chase.” His dyslexia was diagnosed only recently, after the long academic struggle of his youth. “I used to daydream in class a lot — I’d just find my mind wandering off,” recalls Meckler, who had problems with standardized tests. “I wasn’t able to spend much time on something if I couldn’t come up with the answer right away.” Arithmetic, which he refers to as “math block,” was his biggest bugaboo.

Despite his difficulties with numbers, he learned to turn his disabilities to his advantage. In high school and college, he says, “While most people would take lot of notes during a lecture, I could figure out the key points by just listening to the teacher. I have developed that skill in business. I am able to pick out the important details rather than getting bogged down.”

At Jupitermedia, Meckler is famous for short meetings. He insists that if you can’t describe something succinctly, then it isn’t a good idea. “I believe in ‘keep it simple, stupid,'” says Meckler. His skill at digesting very complex issues, to “listen to them, not read about them,” enabled him to spot business trends and to take advantage of those opportunities before the competition did.

“I spotted the Internet as a business opportunity three or four years before anyone else,” he says. “I started a newsletter and reporting service that covered the development of the Internet, then turned it into a magazine, then into a trade show. Internet World became the fastest-growing trade show in history, and was very big from 1994 to 1999.” Meckler has since turned his attention to search engines and has launched a new trade show, Search Engine Strategies.

While the information industry generates reams of data, diagrams, graphs, and charts, Meckler depends on colleagues to interpret them for him. “I can understand very simple bar graphs,” he says. “Once the chart has multiple lines, I can’t follow it.” When it comes to interpreting economic data, “I’ll go to my chief financial officer and say ‘take me through this.’ I’ll digest it instantly if I know the topic, but I can’t follow it otherwise.” Balancing his checkbook is also left to others.

This takes him back to his youth, his passion for baseball, and his learning disabilities. New York in the 1950s had three baseball teams, so there were plenty of statistics for young Meckler to keep track of. He overcame his math block through those stats. ” I would devour the statistics,” he recalls. “I memorized baseball averages, taught myself thirds, averaging out, and how to compute earned run averages.” Then he confesses: “I still have problems if you tell me to divide — I can’t figure out the numerator or the denominator — I have to go back and think of baseball averages to help me.”

So that’s the secret behind running a $47 million business.

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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What Is ADHD?


Lots of people ask the question, What is ADHD? There’s some confusion over it, and some myths, as well. Adult ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, used to be classified as a distinct but similar condition from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) reflecting the presence of hyperactive behavior. But recently, experts have classified both disorders as one and the same, under the umbrella term ADHD. (It’s worth noting, however, that much of our community uses the two terms interchangeably – as does Crusher™.)

This means that adults (and children) who suffer from the disorder may have varying degrees of impulsivity and may or may not experience hyperactivity, but all who have it do suffer from structural and chemical imbalances in the brain that can lead to anxiety, trouble focusing, disorganization, procrastination, and other symptoms.

 These ADHD symptoms typically result in:

  •         Difficulty completing complicated tasks or projects

  •         Inability to multi-task effectively

  •         Greater inclination to indulge in compulsive and even risky behaviors

  •         And many other challenges (see link for more specifics)

While the exact cause of ADHD is still unknown, scientists believe that it is directly related to the brain’s chemical messengers, dopamine and norepinephrine, which play an important role in attention, motivation, and related behaviors.

Adult ADHD can make it difficult to carry on a normal adult life: paying bills, completing household tasks, successfully maintaining one’s career, etc., and individuals who are severely affected by the disorder can experience financial, personal and relationship problems as a result.

Bottom Line: While there is no cure, treatment is available through a variety of methods, including natural ADHD treatments and alternative ADHD treatments and solutions, such as those taught by Crusher™, which are designed to help retrain the brain and help sufferers develop more effective coping strategies – so that they can “escape the overwhelm and live to their potential”!

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Eight ADHD Myths — Crushed

Not for nothin’, Crusher believes in facts. Erroneous beliefs about ADHD are fueled by ignorance, emotion and plain ol’ BS. And we all have a stake in promoting scientific fact, because myths stunt advancement of knowledge and discourage people from seeking help. With this in mind, here are some of the most common ADHD myths, and the myth-crushing facts that we all need to make sure the world knows…

Myth #1: There’s no such thing as ADD/ADHD – it’s a pharma conspiracy to make $$$ from us inattentives.

  • Myth-Crusher: It’s real. It’s documented. It’s accepted by the medical profession at the highest levels. If your doctor is not among the enlightened, switch to a reality-based one. Meantime, here’s a good primer on the topic.

Myth #2: It’s is a new phenomenon.

  • Myth-Crusher: ADHD kids are cited back to 1845. Our culture of gadgets and mega-multitasking didn’t start it. Harvard’s David Urion says, “People have this idea we live in a world that causes ADHD.” While of course one shouldn’t text and drive, “for a harbor pilot bringing a four-masted sailing vessel into Boston Harbor, paying attention was a good idea then, too.”

Myth #3: Only the USA uses medication for it.

  • Myth-Crusher: An NIMH study of data from 1993 to 2003 says while the US remained by far the leading consumer of ADHD medications, other high-income countries, particularly Canada and Australia, had significant increases in medication use, and that more countries have begun to use them — from 31 in 1993 to 55 in 2003. Surely many, many more by now.

Myth #4: Poor Parenting Causes ADHD.

  • Myth-Crusher: While poor parent management (being critical, negative) can exacerbate ADHD and increase risk of comorbidities, the fact is, genetics account for 80% of the variance in ADD symptoms. It’s worth noting that the belief that symptoms are intentional and controllable often results in harsh, punitive parenting practices.

Bad Parenting ADHD


Myth #5: Medication is the only treatment option that works – nothing else helps.

  • Myth-Crusher: the most authoritative voices (Barkley, Ratey, Hallowell, etc.) will tell you that medication can be the single most impactful remedy. BUT they ALSO say it’s not the ONLY treatment option, and that meds can have greater impact with the addition of other practices. Just beware of BS miracle claims.



Myth #6: ADHD meds are mind-control that turn people into zombies & junkies.

  • Myth-Crusher: Actually, it can be just the opposite. Having UN-treated ADD increases risk that an individual will abuse drugs or alcohol. Proper treatment reduces that risk. And ADHD meds have on balance been proven safe/effective for 50+ years. (And NO, Crusher is not a tool of Pharma. Just the messenger.)



Myth #7: ADHD affects only boys.

  • Myth-Crusher: Girls are just as likely as boys to have ADHD, though they tend to be less hyperactive. And as a result, girls are less likely to be diagnosed and treated. Some research also suggests higher rates of overall distress, anxiety and depression in ADHD girls. Read this previous Crusher blog that expands on these sad stats.

Myth #8: Kids with ADHD eventually outgrow their condition.

  • Myth-Crusher: More than 70% of childhood ADHD cases continue into adolescence. Up to 50% will continue into adulthood. And of the up to 6% of the adult population with ADHD, the majority remain undiagnosed, only one in four seeking treatment. Without help, these adults are vulnerable to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, to name a few. More sad stats at another Crusher blog.

Well, that’s enough myth-crushing for one sitting. Don’t “myth” the next Crusher blog!

– Alan

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. It’s a library of over 100 videos teaching hacks and strategies that “unleash the power of your unique brain” to beat procrastination, get prioritized and take control of your time. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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The Relationship of ADHD and Substance Abuse

Recently I blogged about the power of AWARENESS as an ADHD alternative treatment. Awareness of the impact of diet…of the full range of treatment options…of the damage of unchecked negative self-talk…of your own strengths and weaknesses, etc. All things that can empower you if you have greater awareness. Well, you can add to that list, awareness of the frightening statistical friendship of ADHD and substance abuse. Once again, I’ve listened to an archived show on Attention Talk Radio – this time, an interview with clinical psychologist Dr. David Teplin – and come away with a must-write blog on substance abuse as one of the top adult ADHD symptoms.

Some Hallucination-Inducing ADHD Statistics

Did you know that those with ADHD are six times more at risk for substance abuse than the general population, and will suffer with the abuse for a longer time? It gets uglier…

  • Up to 45% of adults with ADHD are alcohol abusers.
  • Up to one third abuse illegal drugs.
  • Between 35% and 71% of all alcoholics are also ADHD!
  • Between 15% and 25% of drug abusers are also ADHD.
  • ADHD adults are disproportionately represented among patients in treatment centers (not to mention also among the prison population, which I blogged about from the 2012 ADHD Coaches Organization conference).

Wow, not lookin’ so good for us!! And that’s not all – don’t forget all the behavioral issues that result from these abuses: drunken driving, arrests, failed relationships, poor career prospects…and on and on. As if the ADHD alone weren’t bad ENOUGH!!!

But wait! There’s more! Then we of course have to contend with the frequent ADD/ADHD co-morbidities of anxiety, depression, bi-polar, oppositional defiance disorder, and so on – that make matters worse, as well as confounding proper diagnosis and treatment.

Substance Abuse Kid

WHAT is Going ON Here?!?

Well, as a former alcohol and drug abuser myself, I’m not surprised at all these ugly stats and the isolation of substance abuse as one of the most prevalent adult ADHD symptoms.

Looking back at my teen years, it’s pretty clear how I got my start. They say marijuana is the gateway drug – but I feel regular old cigarettes are a bigger gateway for ADDers. And sure enough, we ADDers start smoking earlier that the average kid smoker – and are less likely to quit. And the gateway effect is aided and abetted by the gravitation to permissive peers and like-minded others who’ll accept us and our behaviors, making for a snowball effect. Here are some of the why’s that Dr. Teplin touched on…

  • Both we ADDers and substance abusers tend to lack sufficient amounts of dopamine. Abuse, just like all risky behaviors, counters that dopamine deficit. (Hmmm. Is THAT why they call it dope?)
  • Nicotine is a mild stimulant. Its mild ‘upper’ effect probably contributes to the attraction and difficulty in quitting.
  • Alcohol and marijuana are both depressants that might have a calming effect on hyperactivity.
  • As ADHD sufferers, we’re likely to be defined as failing, outcasts, not up to par – all great reasons to go have a drink!

But back to the awareness lesson here. Whether or not we are grappling with some substance, having the knowledge about this dysfunctional relationship can help our overall mission of greater understanding, facing new challenges – and maybe even equip us to help a fellow ADDer in need. If someone you suspect of having attention disorders also has this most pernicious of adult ADHD symptoms, approach gently….Bless!!


P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Natural ADHD Treatment via 6 Executive Functions

Executive Function – “EF” – is quite the fashionable phrase the last few years. But what does it really mean, and what does it mean in terms of natural ADHD treatment strategies or to better understanding ourselves?

Fact is, as Dr. Russell Barkley recently pointed out in an interview on Attention Talk Radio, there’ve been too many definitions floating around out there, and no definitive one. But his new book seeks to wrap this matter up in a neater bow for us ADDers.

Executive Function: 6 Tools for ADHD Success

He breaks down EF into six ‘mind tools’ that together make for a kind of Swiss Army knife for adult ADHD. They go a little something like this:

  1. Self-Restraint: Ability to inhibit your automatic actions/reactions.
  2. Self-Awareness: Ability to monitor yourself and what you’re doing.
  3. Hindsight Informing Foresight: Ability to visualize past imagery and make better-informed choices.
  4. Self-Speech: Ability to talk to yourself privately with instructions.
  5. Self-Regulation of Emotions: Ability to control your emotional state, a natural ADHD treatment that requires practice! Take it from me!
  6. Problem-Solving: Ability to play with ideas in your mind to create constructive solutions.

For me, each one of these is a juicy box of possible topics to riff on – cuz each conjures one or more ADHD alternative treatment strategies that are either somehow expressed in the ADD Crusher™ videos, or that I’ve begun writing/developing for future Crusher™ videos. So if I were to let loose on all of these, I’d write a freakin’ book. I’ll spare both of us and, for now, just talk about Self-Restraint and how understanding it can be put to work for us.

If self-restraint is the opposite of impulsiveness, then we ADDers reaaallly suck at it. Even a cursory look at the role of impulsivity in the ADDer’s life explains much of the pain in our often tortured existence.

  • It’s the unintentially offending remark that alienates a friend or acquaintance.
  • It’s the poorly considered – or the NOT-AT-ALL considered – purchase of something we don’t need…and the financial woes that result.
  • It’s the walking out of the house without our keys…or phone…or child.

The Pause That Refreshes

These are all areas where a PAUSE could be enough self-restraint to mitigate the bad results. Yes, the pause is the thing. If you could pause to first consider the impact of your words, you’d have the opportunity to edit them. If you could pause to first consider how stupid buying that motorcycle is right now, you might recall that you just bought one last week. If you could pause to inventory your important personal items, tasks, family members, etc. In other words, you could change the course of what follows.

This raises two questions. One, if I’m inherently impulsive, how the @#$%$ am I supposed to remember to pause?!? And two, even if it occurs to me to pause, what do I do in that pause to make things any better?

How to Cause the Pause

We’re gonna need an external cue that reminds us at the appropriate time to pause – or at least to be ready to pause. And here’s the cue: entrance/exit. If you were able to associate the idea of entrance and/or exit with preparedness to pause, you’d be much more likely to do so and reap the benefits of self-restraint. And by this I mean both literal and figurative entrances/exits. To wit:

  • When you enter a room full of people or enter into a conversation or argument, this is your cue to pause and be prepared to exercise self-restraint.
  • When you enter a store or enter an e-commerce website, this is your cue to pause and ask yourself if you’re about to make an impulsive purchase.
  • When you exit your house, that doorway is your cue to pause and pat down your body to be sure you have everything you need; and when you exit your car, before you slam that locked door or trunk lid shut, pause to make sure your keys are firmly in your hand.

Awareness of how exective function plays into life’s successes and failures is one of the natural ADHD treatments utilized by the great coaches.


And you can see in the above examples the answer to the second pause-related question – i.e, once you’ve caused the pause, you need to execute what I call Stop/Feel/Go. You stop your motion to feel your emotions, feel your surroundings or literally feel your pockets/keys/phone – and only then permit yourself to go forth.

Stop Feel Go ADHD Solution


I’ve been doing and teaching this for years – but listening to Barkley made me realize this is absolutely foundational to strong Executive Function. Thanks, Dr. Barkley!


P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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How to Find the Right ADHD Coach for You

Following on last month’s Crusher blog on the benefits of ADHD coaching, figured a good next step was to drill down a bit into just how to pick the right coach or coaching program for YOU. After all, there are said to be some 1,000 ADHD coaches in the US and Canada alone, any of whom could potentially work with you locally or remotely. (I was with a whole bunch of the top coaches on the planet last week at the ACO conference where I presented some coaching best practices that I call “Practical Zen Brain Hacks” — more on those powerful alternative ADHD solutions soon.)

Remind Me. Why Is ADHD Coaching a Good Idea?

If you’re serious about pursuing alternative strategies to crush your ADD so that it’s no longer running your life; if you really want to better understand the behaviors that have held you back; if you want to be more effective at work or school or parenting or just in everyday life…then an ADHD coach is worth at least looking into.

Ultimately, the right coach can:

  1. Help you create positive new habits
  2. Help you discover various paths toward success, and…
  3. Be there as an accountability buddy


OK, I’m Curious. What’s Next?

Do some searching for qualified ADD coaches online. There are a bunch of directories to be found with a simple search for, um, ‘ADHD coach directory’. But the shortcut is to look to trusted organizations like…

ADDCA (ADD Coach Academy)
ACO (ADHD Coaches Organization)
ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association)

Check out all of them. Also, check out these Crusher-recommended coaches. They’re great coaches from many states across the country – but remember that coaches can work with you from anywhere on the planet.

Scour a couple of these directories to get a sense of the range of offerings. You’ll find some coaches specialize – for instance, in students, or teens, or parents/families, or executives, etc. Of course make note of their credentials, as some are more seasoned than others (although a newly minted coach could end up being perfect for you, so don’t let that be the only criterion). Then identify a few that “speak to you” – you like their tone, approach, etc.

OK, I’m Ready to “Interview” a Few

Once you’ve identified a handful you think you might like, give them a call or shoot an email with some questions, like…

  • What’s your relationship to ADHD and what got you into coaching?
  • How many clients do you currently work with?
  • How will we work together (e.g., frequency and method of sessions)?
  • How will we define progress or success?
  • What is your overall coaching philosophy?

Don’t make a commitment right then and there – make sure you’ve spoken to all of your short-listers, then marinate on it for a day or two. As you do, consider the pricing for each coach in the context of the comfort- and confidence-level you have after your ‘interviews’. This is important, because you don’t want to nickel-and-dime such an important decision. The results you get from the right coaching relationship will easily outweigh the dollar costs of the sessions.

Indeed, a great coaching relationship can help you grow, mitigate miseries and even develop your ADHD gifts. Make it happen — take action if you’re so inclined!


P.S. — If the timing or funding isn’t in place for a coach right now, consider a “virtual coach” like ADD Crusher™ Videos and Tools — they’re endorsed by the top coaches around the world and many use our tools in their coaching practice. I kid you not. -ab

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of, I hope you’ll check it out. It’s a library of over 100 videos teaching hacks and strategies that “unleash the power of your unique brain” to beat procrastination, get prioritized and take control of your time. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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