facebook pixel

ADHD Treatment Without Drugs

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.

At the Drake Institute, we’ve chosen to use neurofeedback as the cornerstone of our treatment process because it reduces ADHD symptoms in approximately 80% of our patients without risking the potential harmful, debilitating and at times personality altering side-effects associated with drug-based treatment.

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 program for over 35 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 guided over 10,000 patients through our neurofeedback-based treatment process, enabling us to develop a unique level of clinical knowledge and expertise.

For more than two decades, we have remained committed to helping people with ADHD improve their quality of life without relying on potentially harmful medications. Our treatment successfully reduces or eliminates symptoms in approximately up to 80% of patients.

Drug-Based Treatment vs. Neurofeedback

Unlike drug-based ADHD treatments, the Drake Institute’s brain map-guided neurofeedback therapy typically does not cause negative side effects.

In addition, brain map-guided neurofeedback can produce long-term improvement, which drugs cannot. Because neurofeedback results are produced by the patient’s own self-generated efforts via the learning process known as “operant conditioning”, the patient can achieve long-term improvement. Drugs can only produce a short-lived improvement, since that improvement is the result of 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 symptoms have a high potential for abuse and dependence.

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 succeed.

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.


ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a Neurodevelopmental Disorder

In 1994, the DSM-IV manual published by the American Psychiatric Association officially changed the name of ADD to ADHD, categorizing the disorder into 4 different clinical presentations, but requiring that the age of onset of symptoms occurred before the patient reached 7 years old.

IN 2013, the DSM-V manual changed the criteria for diagnosing ADHD again, changing the onset of symptoms to occurring before the patient reached the age of 12. The new DSM-V also updated the criteria for diagnosis by providing examples of symptoms in older adolescents and adults.

The diagnostic term “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD) can be misleading, as patients can be diagnosed with ADHD even though they are not hyperactive or presenting behavioral problems. These same patients though may have significant problems with staying focused, getting easily distracted, being forgetful, or struggling to complete tasks without being monitored.

In these inattentive-only children, adolescents and adults, there can be a preference for using the old term: “Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADD).

Signs and Symptoms for The Four Types of ADHD:

ADHD: (Inattentive presentation)

  • Inattention
  • Easily Distracted
  • Lack of sustained focus on non preferred tasks
  • Difficulty finishing tasks such as homework without supervision
  • Poor short-term memory (i.e. difficulty following a series of instructions)
  • Often forgetful such as forgetting homework or turning it in
  • Poor listening skills

ADHD: (Hyperactive-impulsive presentation)

  • Impulsive (acting without thinking of the consequences, blurting out answers, interrupting, experiencing difficulty waiting one's turn)
  • Hyperactive (fidgety and/or difficulty sitting still)

ADHD: (Combined presentation)

  • Inattentive symptoms along with hyperactivity/impulsivity

ADHD: (Unspecified ADHD)

  • Significant clinical impairment but does not meet full criteria of ADHD symptoms

To be diagnosed as having ADHD, two additional conditions must also be met:

  1. Symptoms must occur more frequently or severely when compared to children/adolescents of the same age
  2. Symptoms must reduce the quality of functioning in one’s life academically, achievement-wise, and/or behaviorally

The Importance of Accurate Diagnostic Testing

Historically, the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder has been based on a cluster of clinical symptoms, but this diagnosis has typically failed to include monitoring 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 anyone can understand the neurophysiologic origin of the symptoms.

At the Drake Institute, our belief is that the historical ADHD diagnosis has been too subjectively based on parents' and teachers' 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 will 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.

ADHD is diagnosed more frequently in boys than in girls, and up to 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to exhibit symptoms into adulthood, with resultant problems. In fact, children with ADHD may continue to struggle with the “inattentive” symptoms well-into adulthood, putting them at increased risk for issues like:

  • academic underachievement
  • resultant low self-esteem
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • alcohol/substance abuse
  • employment problems
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • relationship problems

The Drake Institute’s Comprehensive ADHD Evaluation

To ensure proper diagnosis, the Drake Institute integrates techniques from medicine, neuropsychology and neurosciences, using qEEG brain mapping technology to analyze brain functioning and identify specific networks or areas of the brain that are dysregulated, which leads to unwanted symptoms.

Once these brain networks and regions have been identified, the Drake Institute develops a treatment plan centering around the process of neurofeedback (sometimes categorized as an “ADHD Natural Remedy” or “Natural ADHD Treatment”), which is thoroughly scientifically-based, and produces improvement in up to 80% of our patients.

Individualized treatment protocols are created for each of our patients, based on their brain map results, because “one size does NOT fit all” when it comes to treating ADHD.

Creating a brain map for an 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.

Examples of possible brain map findings include:

  • Problems with concentration or focusing frequently present as under-functioning in the frontal regions of the brain, resulting from:
    • Too many slow brainwaves (delta or theta)
    • Too few fast brainwaves (beta)
    • Poor functional connectivity between areas
  • Difficulty with impulsivity frequently presents as abnormalities in the right frontal lobe
  • Difficulty with social cues frequently presents as abnormalities in the right posterior region
  • Emotionally over-reactive or excessive tantrum behavior frequently presents as abnormal brainwave patterns in the right temporal lobe

By creating a brain map for each of our patients, we are better able to identify which areas are causing symptoms, thus developing a more effective treatment protocol, and maximize treatment outcomes.

Why Can’t My Child Stay Focused?

The frontal region of the brain generates energy/neural activity so you can concentrate for as long as you need to in order to complete a task. Where ADHD is present, the frontal region of the brain is typically under-activated (thus under-functioning).

If your child has focusing problems, it’s highly possible that they are not able to generate enough energy in the frontal area of their brain to sustain concentration on routine, mundane tasks, including academic tasks. In a smaller percent of our patients, we’ve also seen focusing problems resulting from the frontal lobe being overstimulated with too many fast brainwaves (beta brainwaves), which also can cause dysregulation of the frontal lobe, resulting in focusing problems and anxiety.

While children with the problems outlined above can have problems focusing on routine and mundane tasks, you 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 academic tasks are not so stimulating, thus the ADHD child is unable to effectively sustain concentration. As a result, the ADHD child can be significantly disadvantaged in school, even though they may be very intelligent.


Behavioral Problems May Be Neurologically-Caused

The ADHD child’s problems 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 the child’s motor activity may not be inhibited adequately, thus leading them to be hyperactive or fidgety.

This under-activation or dysregulation also leads the child to act out on their impulses spontaneously (interrupting, blurting out, etc.) without thinking of the consequences. In these cases, the impulsive ADHD child does not have the neurophysiologic inhibition mechanisms functioning adequately enough to resist some of their impulses.

In essence, their brain is 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 children 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 their impulsive behavior is inappropriate.

Their impulsive behavior is not intentional, but is based on the fact that their brain is short-circuiting and failing to filter their impulses in an appropriate fashion. Because their brain has never consistently filtered impulses efficiently before, and this is all they have ever experienced, this is their version of “normal”.

These children 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.

Sometimes, when a parent asks their ADHD child why they committed an impulsive act, the child responds with "I don't know." The child is expressing their truth, they really do not know; their brain just did not filter and inhibit their impulse. This is how a neurologic disorder can lead to behavioral and emotional problems that damage the parent-child relationship.


The Drake Institute Can Help

At the Drake Institute, our brain map-guided neurofeedback treatment targets abnormal brainwave patterns and networks that are disturbed or inadequately functioning.

By improving these networks and brainwave patterns, patients can experience a significant reduction of symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, and inattentiveness. In some of our patients, improvements have even been so dramatic that they no longer met the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD.

Get help for you or your loved ones by scheduling a screening consultation at no charge.

Contact Us Today

To get the help you or a loved one needs, call now to schedule your no-cost screening consultation.

dr david velkoff headshot

“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.”

More About What Makes Drake Institute Unique