'Natural Remedies' Won't Replace My Kid's ADHD Meds

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
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My kid takes ADHD meds. He’s almost eight. May the judgment fall upon me like rain.

Allow me to explain, first, what happens without the meds. Because we’ve lived without the meds, and life becomes, for his brothers, for our family, but most of all for him, a running disaster. He makes strange noises at the top of his lungs. These eventually become annoying, which leads to his brothers yelling at him, which leads to him crying, because number one, he’s hardly aware he’s making these noises, and two, he doesn’t understand why the noises are a problem to begin with. He sings, speaks, and yells as if he’s recently left a Metallica concert.

Worst of all, he has zero tolerance for frustration of any kind. School becomes impossible. He cannot write. Like, he literally refuses to write, simply because his penmanship and spelling is not perfect, and will throw screaming tantrums after half an hour of effort. Math ends much the same way when a concept edges towards difficult.

It’s hard for him to make friends. He has behavioral challenges of various kinds. He doesn’t mean to hurt his brothers. He doesn’t mean to hit too hard with that plastic sword.

So we give him ADHD meds.

But you say he doesn’t need them. You judge me. You give me your frowny concerned face and first try to convince me, an adult with ADHD, that the condition doesn’t actually exist. You say, “You know ADHD is really just an effect of kids not getting enough time outside, right?” My kids spend half the day outside digging holes, and they have structured diving team practice several times a week.

You say, “ADHD just happens because kids watch too much TV.” My kids watch very little TV, own no gaming system but an ancient old-school Nintendo, and think YouTube lives in the Roku for Mama to find educational videos on school subjects. You say, “You know, ADHD just happens because we expect kids to sit still too much.” Well, my kids are homeschooled kids, so they don’t even have desks.

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Then you try to cure him — without his ADHD meds, because anything that comes from a pharmaceutical company is, by nature, bad and wrong and evil. You don’t realize you’re telling this to a woman who needs the highest FDA-allowable dose of Adderall to function in daily society.

You ask me if I have tried outdoor time. “You know, they’ve proven that when kids get plenty of time in green spaces, it alleviates ADHD symptoms,” you tell me. Except my kids spend all their time running in and out, in and out of the house. They spend vast amounts of time digging holes and making lakes. They catch lizards and toads and frogs. We go to forests and green spaces all the damn time. And yet, my child still screams when asked where the ones place is.

You ask if I have tried Omega-3s. We did. But as ADDitude Magazine says, there’s no easy answer to whether or not they help, and you can’t like, test for Omega-3 deficiency, which you would have to have in order for them to help in the first place. We tried them. He still spoke with his volume turned up to eleven.

You ask if I have tried CBD oil instead of ADHD meds. Um. If you live in my state, you can’t trust that the stuff on the shelves actually has the dose it says it contains, that it doesn’t have THC in it, that it’s pure, that it doesn’t contain pesticides, and on and on and on. So no. I have not given my children CBD gummies, kthanx bye. Maybe when they come out with peer-reviewed studies. And why would I trust a random grower, and a substance I bought at a headshop, rather than an FDA-regulated and tested substance I bought at a goddamn pharmacy?

People have also told me to give my kids ginseng.

You also corner me and demand to know what I’ve done about his diet instead of “jumping right to ADHD meds.” Yes, we cut out red food dye, and I agree that it aggravates his symptoms. No, no, no, you tell me. I have to cut out all artificial dyes. All of them, red, yellow, and blue. I also have to cut all artificial sugars, and feed him a totally clean diet, preferably of all organic foods, because pesticides, didn’t I know, can also aggravate ADHD symptoms?

Pesticides can also cause ADHD symptoms, duh, am I an idiot? Why am I not feeding my child all organic foods right fucking now?!

We used to do that. It didn’t help.

I also have to have him tested for allergies, because hidden allergies can cause ADHD-like symptoms, since there isn’t actually ADHD, not really, there’s only allergies that mess up your neurotransmitters and mimic what we call ADHD, and if you get those allergies diagnosed, you won’t have ADHD anymore. Then you can kick the ADHD meds for good.

The list of things your child is allergic to, you tell me, will likely be very, very, very long. But isn’t that a small price to pay for getting him off those ADHD meds?

Shove it up your woo hole. I don’t know where that is, but we all have imaginations and can use them.

My child’s ADHD meds save his life. They allow him to function like a normal child. They let him play with his brothers. They let him make friends. They let him learn. I had to teach him to read three fucking times before we started him on meds. Three times. You think I want to give my kid stimulant medication? You think that’s a decision we made lightly?

No and no. We didn’t take the easy way out. We took the only way out.

Don’t question my parenting choices. My kid takes ADHD meds. They work. Your judgment and “natural remedies” do not. So keep them to yourself.

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