ADHD Treatment
ADHD Treatment for Adolescents

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is best treated through parent-delivered behavior therapy. However, many caregivers, even those with prior experience managing kids with the condition, get upset at managing ADHD in adolescence. The challenge arises because teens experience difficulties learning, maintaining healthy relations, following instructions, and managing emotions.

To simplify caregiving, Massachusetts Center for Adolescents Wellness (MCAW) has shed light on ADHD in adolescents. We aim to give families the tools needed to understand ADHD and the symptoms associated with the condition. At MCAW, we understand that managing ADHD in adolescents is not always uncomplicated. This is why we like to ensure that loved ones have all the information.

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Adolescent ADHD Treatment Center in Massachusetts

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that impairs normal brain function. Children with the behavioral condition are overly active and act without a second thought. The illness is chronic, meaning affected kids grow with it to adulthood. While the cause of ADHD remains unknown, studies associate it with family history and substance abuse during pregnancy. Furthermore, studies link the condition to lead exposure and brain injury. This neuropsychiatric disorder has three kinds: inattentive, hyperactive, and combined ADHD.
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Symptoms of ADHD

Depending on the type, ADHD in adolescents presents with hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattentiveness symptoms. In some situations, adolescents exhibit a combination of the three categories of symptoms.

Inattentive Symptoms

  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Inability to do challenging tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Misplacement of things
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Constantly shifting between activities

Hyperactivity Symptoms

  • Talking a lot
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Constantly switching from activity to activity
  • Committing careless mistakes
  • Reduced sense of danger

Impulsivity Symptoms

  • Losing temper at the slightest provocation
  • Frequent physical violence
  • Overindulging in activities
  • Interrupting others during conversations
  • Binge eating
  • Engaging in frequent and impulsive lying

Risk Factors of ADHD

There is no specific factor that causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But, medical studies suggest that some environmental, genetic, and maternal factors increase the chances of a kid acquiring this behavioral condition.

Risk factors for ADHD can include:

Treating ADHD Through Behavior Therapy

The treatment plan for ADHD adolescents focuses on managing symptoms with ongoing medication. Moreover, the treatment entails helping the affected adolescent manage impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness through parent-delivered behavior therapy.

Developing Healthy Peer Relations

Adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder face challenges when creating peer relationships. Nearly half get bullied, an issue that aggravates depression, stress, drug abuse, and loneliness.

On the other hand, their ADHD-related inattentiveness and hyperactivity make it hard for adolescents to maintain healthy relationships. Peers tend to despise adolescents living with the behavior disorder.

Therefore, knowing who teens spend time with and how they get along matters. This is important to help teens establish cordial friendships with their peers. They should also learn to stand up to bullying and develop appropriate social skills.

Controlling Emotions

Often, teenagers with ADHD have low control over their emotions. They get irritated at the slightest provocation, feel over-joyous over minor issues, or make rushed emotional decisions.

On that account, it matters to help teens with ADHD to control their emotions rationally. Train them to use words rather than aggression, and teach them various calming skills like deep breathing.

With reasonable emotional regulation, the teen’s chances of becoming violent, suicidal, and vulnerable to risky behaviors decrease. The skill helps them have an easy time around peers and family.

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Supervising & Guiding the Teen

Teens with ADHD have a high risk of abusing drugs, fighting peers, indulging in unsafe sex, and getting into avoidable accidents. For this reason, supervise the adolescent with ADHD as closely as possible.

Know where and how the teen spends their free time away from school or family. Do chores together, encouraging them to get busy with co-curricular activities rather than idling. While close supervision and guidance drain, it saves ADHD teenagers from costly blunders.

In addition to supervision, ADHD can be managed in adolescence by educating teens on the risks associated with certain behaviors. These include substance use, unsafe sex, and other risky behaviors like careless driving.

Using Rewards for Good Behavior

Teens living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder face criticism several times in their life. The persistent disapproval lowers their self-esteem, instigates anger & defensiveness, and deteriorates relationships.

To avoid the negative energy from criticism, use rewards to reinforce good behavior and discourage bad deeds. Rewarding improves self-esteem and fosters a good relationship between you and the teen.

Establishing a Routine

Many adolescents with ADHD can hardly figure out the time to do chores, do school assignments, sleep, or even eat. If the teen falls in this category, a routine can help keep their day organized.

The schedule tells them when to do school work, house chores, sleep, take medication, or execute other essential errands. Use the routine alongside a timer to alert them when it is time to take a particular action. With time, the routine will improve the teen’s efficiency since it tells the right task to do at a given time. A well-drafted daily schedule instills a sense of control and trains self-discipline.

Treating ADHD in Adolescence Through Medication

Medication is a last resort in ADHD treatment for teens. Specialists consider this treatment when ADHD interferes with the teen’s safety, academics, or relationships. And especially when efforts to manage ADHD with behavioral training have failed. In such a case, therapists use stimulants, antidepressants, or hypertensives to treat chronic behavior disorders.


Doctors often use stimulants like methylphenidate and amphetamine to manage ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity and impulsivity. The medications trigger the production of dopamine, a compound that controls impulsive behavior and improves attention spans.

The stimulant therapy starts working after 30 minutes of administration. With a couple of medication vacations, the teen might have to keep using the medications for months to years.


Stimulants are the most commonly used drugs to treat ADHD. However, doctors can manage the condition with non-stimulant medications like antidepressants and antihypertensive drugs. It is essential to consult with a professional to determine the appropriate medications for the teen’s needs.

ADHD Treatment

ADHD Treatment for Teens - Near Boston, Massachusetts

If managed improperly, ADHD can affect your adolescent profoundly. It slows academic performance, complicates peer relationships, and increases the chances of risky behavior like substance abuse. ADHD can also result in distressing thoughts and occupational difficulties.

If your teen is struggling with ADHD, reach out to Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness today. Our team of trusted specialists can help manage ADHD symptoms in adolescents. We will help your loved one cope with the impulsivity, hyperactivity, and other negatives associated with ADHD through day treatment or intensive outpatient programs. We also treat a variety of other mental health disorders and are committed to supporting your teenager.  

Clinically Reviewed by:

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Melanie Carbonneau is the Clinical Director at Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness and is a licensed counselor and certified music therapist with a Ph.D. from Lesley University. She leads MCAW with a focus on holistic care, emphasizing the importance of family and community involvement in the healing process.