The Drake Institute is a world-class ADHD treatment center founded in 1980. We are a pioneer in treating ADHD without medication, and we've helped thousands of patients reduce their ADHD symptoms.
In fact, in most cases, our ADHD and ADD treatment options do not require stimulants or pharmaceutical drugs of any kind, instead relying on the safe and clinically effective technologies of Biofeedback, Neurofeedback, and Neuromodulation Therapy.
Utilizing the latest developments in qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neurostimulation technology, our non-drug ADHD & ADD treatment protocols enable patients to receive much-needed therapeutic relief from their ADHD and ADD symptoms faster than ever before without the use of traditional pharmaceutical drugs.
In addition, our neurofeedback treatment process can produce long-term improvement for our patients, unlike the temporary improvement offered by drug-based treatment.
As a medical clinic integrating the fields of medicine, neuropsychology, neurosciences, computer science and family and child therapy, we could prescribe medication for children with ADHD, but because of our dedication to clinical effectiveness and patient safety, we have developed an exceptional non-drug ADHD treatment regimen that delivers optimal results without the risks of drugs.
The clinical practice of medicine is supposed to be guided by the principle of delivering “safe and effective” results: our brain map-guided neurofeedback treatment fulfills this commitment.
The Drake Institute has made biofeedback and neurofeedback the centerpieces of our non-drug treatment programs for over 40 years. The technology is important, but there is a steep learning curve in acquiring the clinical expertise required to use it effectively, and this can only be overcome by a great deal of experience.
Here at the Drake Institute, we have helped over 10,000 patients through our neurofeedback-based treatment process, enabling us to develop a unique level of clinical knowledge and expertise.
For three decades, we have remained committed to helping people with ADHD improve their quality of life without relying on medications with their unwanted side effects.. Our non-medication treatment for ADHD and ADD continues to significantly improve the quality of life for patients from around the world, providing clinical improvement for the majority of patients.
The frontal region of the brain generates energy/neural activity so you can concentrate for as long as you need to complete a task.
Where ADHD and ADD are present, the frontal region of the brain is typically under-activated (thus under-functioning), which makes sustained concentration more difficult.
If you or your child has focusing problems, the frontal area of the brain may not be generating enough energy to sustain concentration on routine, mundane tasks, including academic tasks.
In a smaller percentage of our patients, we’ve also seen focusing problems resulting from the frontal lobe being overstimulated with too many fast brainwaves (beta brainwaves), which can also cause dysregulation of the frontal lobe, resulting in focusing problems and anxiety.
While adults and children with the problems outlined above can exhibit problems focusing on routine and mundane tasks, they may find that stimulating activities (video games, television, Legos, etc.) can sometimes hold their attention for hours, even without the frontal region of the brain functioning normally.
Unfortunately, most “mundane” tasks are not so stimulating, making it extraordinarily difficult for afflicted individuals to effectively sustain concentration.
As a result, ADHD and ADD patients can be significantly disadvantaged in school and work, even though they may be very intelligent.
ADHD and ADD symptoms are based on neurologic dysregulation, not psychological causes.
The frontal region of the brain is responsible for inhibiting motor activity and impulses, but if this region is under-activated or dysregulated, then our motor activity may not be inhibited adequately.
This under-activation or dysregulation also leads adults and children to act out on their impulses (interrupting, blurting out, etc.) without thinking of the consequences. In these cases, the ADHD and ADD patients do not have the neurophysiologic inhibition mechanisms functioning adequately enough to resist some of their impulses.
As a result of ADD or ADHD, their brains are not able to put the impulse "on pause" for a few seconds so they can think about the consequences of acting on the impulse. Instead of being able to think about how to respond appropriately, they act out spontaneously/impulsively.
These individuals are behaving “normally” as far as their brain is concerned because their brain is not inhibiting their impulses. This is the only way their brain has ever worked, so they have no personal history or reference point to understand that their impulsive behavior is inappropriate.
Please keep in mind that the impulsive behavior of a person with ADD or ADHD is not intentional, but is based on the fact that their brain is short-circuiting and failing to filter their impulses appropriately. Because their brain has never consistently filtered impulses efficiently before, and since this is all they have ever experienced, this is their version of “normal”.
ADHD and ADD patients are sometimes unable to fully understand “cause and effect”. They may not understand why they are being criticized for their behavior, and may even feel like they are being criticized unfairly, which can eventually lead to argumentative and oppositional behavior.
Unlike drug-based ADHD and ADD treatments, the Drake Institute’s brain map-guided neurofeedback therapy typically does not cause negative side effects, and it is also capable of producing long-term improvement
Because neurofeedback’s results are produced by the patient’s own self-generated efforts via the learning process known as “operant conditioning”, the treatment addresses the cause of brain dysregulation, fixing the problem itself, rather than masking it.
In contrast, drug-based ADD treatments can only produce a short-lived improvement since their results are due to a transient drug effect, rather than an internalized learning process of self-regulation through neurofeedback. Once the drug wears off, so do the improvements.
Furthermore, stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD and ADD symptoms have the potential for abuse and dependence, as well as unwanted side effects.
In addition to the benefits outlined above, the Drake Institute’s brain map-guided neurofeedback treatment empowers our patients by enabling them to develop the neurological resources and skills needed to overcome ADD and ADHD symptoms.
Our clinical staff of therapists also provides much-needed support to our patients, parents, or spouses throughout the treatment process, ensuring that the entire family unit helps facilitate patient improvement, integrating it into their everyday life.
Historically, the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder has been based on a cluster of clinical symptoms, but this diagnosis has failed to include testing actual brain functioning.
It is now known that ADHD symptoms are neurologically based, and it is over-simplistic to view ADHD as a single disorder since similar symptoms in various patients can manifest in unique ways, leading to different sets of problems. Also, the traditional ADHD diagnosis itself does not provide answers to the origin and cause of the unwanted symptoms.
It is only by analyzing brain functioning that we can fully understand the neurophysiologic origin of ADD and ADHD symptoms, which is needed to design the most effective treatment approach, customized to focus on the specific dysregulation that each patient is experiencing.
At the Drake Institute, we believe that the historical ADHD diagnosis has been too subjectively based on observations, without looking at biological or neurophysiological markers. That is why we utilize quantitative EEG brain mapping technology, which can correlate ADHD symptoms to dysregulated networks or regions in the brain.
Similar symptoms in different patients may even show different abnormal brainwave patterns, requiring individualized brain map-based neurofeedback treatment protocols.
Compared to drug-based treatment, which is mostly trial and error, our brain map-guided neurofeedback protocols are scientifically targeted to improve performance for specific networks and regions in the brain.
At the Drake Institute, we believe that ADHD and ADD treatment should focus on the root of the problem: the patient’s dysregulated brain.
Once the dysregulation has been mapped via qEEG brain mapping, we can then create individualized treatment plans for our patients and help them achieve symptom reduction through Neurofeedback and Neuromodulation.
A key component of our treatment protocols is the use of qEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalogram) brain mapping, which helps us obtain a clearer picture of the dysregulation occurring in the brain.
Creating a brain map for an ADD/ADHD patient is every bit as important as running an EKG (electrocardiogram) for a heart patient. The more information the physician has about what’s causing the patient’s symptoms, the more effective their treatment can be.
As is true with any medical test, brain map findings must be correlated with the patient’s clinical symptoms and evaluated to determine optimal EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) protocols.
When ADHD and ADD are present, the brain can be literally stuck in abnormal brain wave patterns, showing imbalances in either fast or slow brain wave activities, which is often the root cause of ADHD and ADD symptoms.
Either type of disrupted functioning can negatively affect the attentional and executive functioning systems in the brain, even in highly intelligent people.
Below is an image showing the "before and after" brain map of a patient who learned to normalize their frontal lobe brainwave patterns by completing our brain map guided neurofeedback treatment:
As a result of completing our treatment and improving brain functioning, this child's quality of life was remarkably improved. Many of our patients report a substantial improvement in their life experience when their brain functioning improves as evidenced from their qEEG brain map.
In addition to brain wave imbalances, ADHD and ADD patients also frequently exhibit abnormal functional connections between different areas of the brain, which results in less efficient and slower processing of information.
In these cases, the "wirings of the brain" are inadequate, and this facet of the disorder is also treated via our non-medication-based protocol.
An analogy to this situation would be a delivery driver stuck on the freeway in traffic with only 1 functional lane, making traffic move very slowly and preventing the delivery driver from making his delivery on time.
If the freeway were to create 4 additional functional lanes for traffic to move through, the traffic would move normally and efficiently, allowing the delivery driver to remain on schedule.
This is one of the core benefits resulting from brain map-guided neurofeedback; if the functional connections of the brain improve, then one is likely to have a reduction of ADHD and ADD symptoms.
Through neurofeedback, our patients can learn to strengthen connections involved in focus, concentration, and executive functioning, leading to a reduction or resolution of their ADHD and ADD symptoms.
Indeed, research completed at the University of Montreal's Mind/Brain research lab, published in the scientific journal, Clinical EEG and Neurosciences, has shown that neurofeedback training and treatment procedures increased both brain volume and brain connections in areas involved in "attention", which correlated with improved auditory and visual sustained attention.
This study was a milestone in proving that neurofeedback training can lead to structural changes in the brain, which then lead to improved brain functioning. Sometimes, it is helpful to think of neurofeedback for ADD or ADHD as analogous to "physical therapy" for the brain, with the results being self-generated by the patient's active self-regulation.
In addition to qEEG brain mapping and neurofeedback, the Drake Institute now uses Neuromodulation technology that consists of a low-intensity pulsed electromagnetic generator (pEMF), transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), and transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) to treat ADD & ADHD symptoms.
How does it work?
Simply put, Neuromodulation can stimulate a brainwave pattern that the patient is deficient in. In turn, the dysregulated brain will then mimic or emulate the stimulation to produce healthier brainwave patterns.
This technology has had such a tremendous impact on our success rates that it is fully integrated into our treatment protocols available for each patient, resulting in faster improvements in symptom reduction and more normalization of post-treatment brain maps. In other words, it gets the brain healthier, faster.
Like all treatment protocols used by the Drake Institute, Neuromodulation Therapy is a non-invasive, safe, and clinically effective treatment option for individuals looking to reduce their ADD symptoms.
For historical accuracy, the diagnostic term ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) was actually discontinued in 1994 by the American Psychiatric Association's published manual, the DSM-IV, and replaced with the diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) consisting of 3 subtypes:
The DSM is used to classify recognized mental health disorders. In 2013, the new DSM-5 redefined ADHD once again into 3 main subtypes:
Many families are confused with the diagnostic label of ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) when their child or the adult who is experiencing symptoms of the disorder has never been hyperactive nor impulsive, but to be clear, it’s entirely possible to be diagnosed with ADHD, even without the presence of hyperactivity.
Many ADHD patients only show "inattentive symptoms" (predominantly Inattentive Presentation), exhibiting no signs of behavioral problems nor disruptiveness.
In fact, the child with ADHD may be extremely well behaved, but have noticeable difficulty with sustaining effective concentration on non-preferred tasks, such as academic studies or homework.
Today, the child who would have been diagnosed with ADD (without hyperactivity) before 1994, is now diagnosed as having ADHD-Inattentive Presentation, which again can be confusing because there is no hyperactivity.
Accordingly, at the Drake Institute, we still find the former label of ADD to be a helpful description of a distinct or clearly defined group of characteristics in patients diagnosed with ADHD who only exhibit the "inattentive symptoms" of the disorder.
Most commonly, ADHD and ADD symptoms are caused by dysregulation in the frontal region of the brain (those areas responsible for sustaining attention and focus).
People suffering from this disorder may be unable to sustain focus for an extended period of time on non-preferred tasks such as homework or classwork, even though they may be fully capable of concentrating on preferred tasks like video games or computer games for hours on end.
Even excellent parenting cannot normalize an ADHD child’s frontal lobe dysregulation. No matter how much effort the child puts forth, they may not be able to fix the problem either, as simply trying harder won’t correct the dysregulation in their brain.
On the surface, while it may appear that the child is willfully lazy or unmotivated, the reality is that they simply do not have the fully-developed and adequately functioning neurobiological capacities to be able to succeed with age-appropriate demands.
Below is a breakdown of the symptoms associated with the 4 types of ADHD:
ADHD: (Inattentive presentation)
ADHD: (Hyperactive-impulsive presentation)
ADHD: (Combined presentation)
ADHD: (Unspecified ADHD)
To be diagnosed as having ADHD, two additional conditions must also be met:
Up to 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to exhibit symptoms into adulthood, with resultant problems. The consequences for failing to treat ADHD and ADD as early as possible in a child's or adolescent's life can damage much more than one’s ability to concentrate.
In fact, untreated ADHD or ADD can negatively change the trajectory of a person's life and future by increasing their vulnerability to many problems that someone without ADHD would not have to face, including:
As an example, a landmark study from the Mayo Clinic published in the medical journal, Pediatrics, followed ADHD children into adulthood and confirmed that many children do not outgrow ADHD (as was previously thought).
The same study showed that these untreated children can face increased risk as adults for psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or substance dependency.
In addition, untreated ADHD children are less likely to graduate high school and college, earn lower incomes, and have an increased incidence of employment problems and marital conflicts.
Children with only the inattentive symptoms of ADHD, previously diagnosed with ADD, are less likely to be diagnosed and helped as early as children who are hyperactive and impulsive.
The inattentive type ADHD child is typically well behaved and does not disrupt the classroom. Frustrations with the child failing to complete homework on their own may be the only visible concern until the child reaches third grade when he/she is expected to work more independently, or in middle school when the ADD child can become overwhelmed with trying to remain organized and keeping up with multiple teachers and classes.
Kids with ADD have to deal with much more significant challenges when attempting to complete non-preferred tasks, which may include the majority of their academic tasks.
This difficulty makes them far more likely to experience feelings of being overwhelmed and inadequate when faced with tasks that other kids their age would not have trouble completing.
ADHD is diagnosed more frequently in boys than in girls. Girls with ADHD/ADD are less likely to be hyperactive than boys, and typically do not show the disruptive behaviors frequently exhibited by ADHD boys.
Consequently, girls may get diagnosed at a later age. In addition, girls with ADD or ADHD may not show significant inattentive symptoms until middle school or high school, and their symptoms can actually increase with puberty as their estrogen levels rise.
ADHD, including the Inattentive Presentation (formerly called ADD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Brain frontal lobe abnormalities have been found to be different in ADHD boys compared to those identified in ADHD girls.
These findings provide insight into understanding why ADD or ADHD often manifests differently in boys versus girls. Research has shown that ADD or ADHD boys have brain abnormalities in areas involved with inhibition (impulsivity and hyperactivity), whereas girls are more likely to have brain abnormalities in areas involved in executive functioning.
The new executive function challenges presented by middle school, where the student will report to 5 or 6 different teachers, rather than their single teacher from elementary school, often overwhelm the ADD or ADHD-inattentive child. Consequently, even though they could be extremely bright, their intelligence alone may no longer be enough to allow them to succeed.
In this case, the ADHD child’s neurophysiologic deficit in executive functioning was an underlying weakness that didn't become symptomatic until they experienced a greater requirement for self-regulation and self-monitoring in middle school.
All of a sudden, the ADHD child in middle school becomes overwhelmed by more demanding organizational tasks, has difficulty prioritizing assignments from multiple teachers, and experiences difficulty when faced with the need to adjust to different teaching styles.
As the child begins to fall behind due to the difficulty in completing all of their work and their grades begin to drop, then a loss of self-confidence or self-esteem may occur. The child can then become increasingly frustrated, overwhelmed, and eventually unmotivated.
This is why ADHD children and adolescents face an elevated risk for new emotional problems, including anxiety and depression.
When the untreated ADHD adolescent goes off to college, their symptoms may noticeably increase since they’re now truly on their own and working without the advantage of a supportive, structured home environment.
Oftentimes, even very bright children who made it through high school without any issues were only able to do so because their supportive, structured home environment helped compensate for their neurophysiologic limitation with executive functioning.
When this individual gets to college, and their parents are no longer close at hand to back them up and act as a “safety net”, the ADHD adolescent can become quickly overwhelmed since they’re no longer being micro managed by their parents.
Incomplete assignments, underachievement, battles with homework, focusing challenges, and forgetfulness can all take a significant toll on the ADHD child’s self-esteem and produce additional stress for his or her parents.
In response to these familial struggles, the Drake Institute developed the FullCare treatment program, which includes reviewing ADHD’s impact on the family, providing support for family members in addition to patients.
Because ADHD disrupts so many different areas of the family’s life, the Drake Institute firmly believes that FullCare is essential to maximizing the chances of fully helping the patient and their family.
People with ADHD can be effectively treated without drugs, improving brain dysregulation and help optimize brain function, leading to a reduction and/or resolution of symptoms and improved quality of life.
While it’s better to start the treatment process as early as possible, it is never too late to treat ADHD, even in adults.
However, keep in mind that the sooner treatment is started, the less likely a patient is to experience cumulative struggles, under-achievements, frustrations, development of unhealthy defense mechanisms and emotional problems, damaged self-esteem and loss of motivation and ambitions.
Our ADHD treatment program can improve the quality of life for people facing ADHD challenges at any age. Get help for you or your loved ones by contacting us to arrange a screening consultation at no charge.
For more information regarding our non-drug ADHD and ADD treatment protocols, please refer to the F.A.Q section below:
ADHD and ADD can be successfully treated without drugs; however, that does not mean that a patient should stop taking ADHD medications unless they’ve been advised to do so by a Physician.
ADHD medications have shown to be temporarily effective for some individuals, and although they may carry a significant number of unwanted side effects, failing to take medications as prescribed is not advisable.
At the Drake Institute, our non-drug ADHD and ADD treatment protocols can help reduce, or in some cases, eliminate the need for ADHD medications, as our treatment process addresses the root of the problem and can offer long-term symptom relief.
ADHD/ADD and Anxiety can appear similar on the surface, but there are some key differences between them.
In short, if a child is distracted and unable to focus due to worrisome thoughts, then he or she is probably suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. If the child’s mind is quiet, but he or she is still easily distracted, then ADHD or ADD is likely the cause.
For more information on this topic, please read our article on ADHD vs. Anxiety.
At the Drake Institute, we believe the most effective treatment for ADHD and ADD is the one that focuses on the root of the problem: the dysregulation of the brain.
That’s why the foundation for our non-drug treatment protocols for ADHD/ADD is derived from the qEEG brain mapping.
By mapping the brain and identifying the area of the brain that is experiencing dysregulation, we can create custom-tailored ADHD treatment plans to suit each patient’s unique needs.
A well-balanced diet, exercise, and meditation are all good options for individuals looking to reduce their ADHD symptoms.
However, while these natural ADHD remedies may reduce the severity of certain ADHD symptoms, they do not address the individual’s underlying brain dysregulation.
There are several vitamins and minerals that can help with ADHD and ADD if there is a deficiency, including Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and others.
For a full list of vitamins and minerals that help with ADHD, please read our article on the Best ADHD Supplements & Vitamins For Kids.
Left untreated, ADHD and ADD can be a disruptive force for children, adolescents, and adults.
Indeed, ADHD and ADD can lead to late or incomplete homework assignments, poor performance at work, bullying, and even depression.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms of ADHD, it’s important to seek medical help ASAP.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for ADHD can be an effective adjunctive treatment option for some individuals.
That said, the results generated through CBT can be further enhanced with treatment protocols like Neurofeedback and Neuromodulation.
With the help of these treatment protocols, patients afflicted with ADHD and ADD can learn to leverage the mind-body connection to reduce symptoms and minimize or eliminate negative emotional responses.
The best foods for children with ADHD are natural foods jam-packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, removing foods containing processed foods and artificial colors can also help mitigate the symptoms of ADHD and ADD.
Although some individuals may feel that they’ve “outgrown” their ADHD, in fact they may have only outgrown some of their symptoms.
For example, some individuals are no longer hyperactive or impulsive as adults, but may still continue to suffer from inattention.
Therefore, it’s important for individuals who are struggling with ADHD and ADD to seek professional help ASAP, since leaving ADHD and ADD untreated can result in poor performance at school, work, and impaired relationships.
If you or a family member need help, please fill out our confidential online form
Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Spanish News Feature
“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”