AD/HD is a very treatable condition and once diagnosed, steps can be taken to reduce its negative impact. With appropriate treatment and support, individuals can learn to manage symptomatic behaviors that get them into trouble.
Providing AD/HD therapy to incarcerated individuals with continued support upon their release has been shown to significantly reduce rates of recidivism. Washington State’s “CHOICES” program saw a consistent 40% decrease in recidivism among participants over 20 years.
Addressing the specific needs of inmates with ADHD ultimately benefits all of society in the form of lowered recidivism, more productive citizens, safer communities and savings to taxpayers.
The most effective way of treating ADHD is with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, or coaching.
ADHD medication supports the process of self-regulation, allowing one to more effectively:
- Filter excess internal and external stimulation, control attention shifts between different priorities, and sustain attention- thereby decreasing distractibility.
- Decrease impulsivity by inhibiting prepotent responses
- Moderate activity levels, i.e. reduce hyperactivity or increase activation
- Stay consistently awake and alert, maintain steady energy for projects
Generally, the most successful medications for treating ADHD are stimulants, like Adderall or Ritalin. Juvenile correction facilities are much more likely to allow the prescription of medications for treatment of ADHD than adult facilities. In most adult facilities, if an inmate is being treated for ADHD prior to incarceration, medication is routinely stopped due to the facilities’ concerns of misuse of the medication- as a form of contraband, for example. Recently developed liquid stimulant medications offer a possible solution to this problem, by limiting the potential for abuse. Offenders entering the justice system may be placed on probation requiring abstinence from street drugs used for self-medication, but without access to appropriate treatment options, this makes them much more likely to either violate probation or re-offend because of untreated symptomatic behaviors.
ADHD Coaching is a very successful form of treatment, focusing on equipping an individual with skills that enable them to overcome problematic ADHD symptoms- from learning how to tame their impulsivity to how to better manage their time.
Effective life-skills training focuses on:
- Structured problem solving
- Communication skills, social skills
- Strategies to recognize and manage disruptive behaviors caused by ADHD.