The Costs of Adult ADHD

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on May 15, 2023
4 min read

An estimated 8.7 million American adults have a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). If you are one of them, you know that it can be expensive to treat – around $14,000 per adult. Copays for office visits and medication can be high, even with health insurance. Societally, ADHD costs $122.8 billion, with most of the burden in excess unemployment and then loss of productivity, according to a study published in 2022 that looked at health insurance claims and published academic and medical research.

ADHD comes with the health care costs of coexisting behaviors like alcohol misuse, anxiety, autism, mood and sleep disorders and heightened risk of accidents.

Luckily, many organizations can guide you on these costs. Some can even help you pay. Start your treatment informed and prepared.

Medication alone won’t solve the problems ADHD can cause. But it will improve your attention and impulse control. It also helps treat symptoms of depression and anxiety that can come along with ADHD in adults.

Your doctor may suggest you take one or more of these medications:

Stimulants. These medications are the ones that adults with ADHD take most. They raise levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The drugs can help you focus, but they come with the potential for abuse.

Methylphenidate (Daytrana) is an expensive medication, averaging $330 for 30 patches. Check around; prices vary.  Adderall is much less expensive, averaging $37 for 30 tablets but often available for much lower. 

Tips: Drug prices vary a lot, sometimes by hundreds of dollars depending on where you get them and the kind of insurance you have. Shop around. Compare prices among local pharmacies and online. You can also look into the medication assistance programs that many drug companies offer.

Non-stimulant medications. Atomoxetine (Strattera) and viloxazine (Qelbree) are FDA-approved non-stimulants for adult ADHD. It takes longer than stimulants to get results. But it doesn’t come with the same abuse risk. Non-stimulants can be a good option if you can’t take stimulants due to other health conditions or the side effects.

Both of these drugs are expensive – about $316 – for 30 (40mg) tablets of Strattera and around $395 for 30 (100mg) tablets of Qelbree. You can get it online for far less. Shop around and use coupons from the manufacturer, your pharmacy, and third-party discounters like GoodRx. 

Antidepressants. The FDA has not approved antidepressants for ADHD. But certain ones, like bupropion (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin XL or SR), can help with ADHD symptoms. With a little research, you can find bupropion online for as little as $11 for 30 (150mg) tablets.

High blood pressure medications. Occasionally, doctors prescribe clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay) or guanfacine (Intuniv, Tenex) for hyperactive or aggressive behavior in adults. One vendor lists generic clonidine online for $9 for 30 (0.1mg) tablets. Generic guanfacine goes for as little as $18 for 30 (1mg) tablets.

Medications that promote wakefulness. If other medications don't help, your doctor may suggest a medication called modafinil (Provigil). It’s not specifically for ADHD. It’s for a condition called narcolepsy that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and “sleep attacks.” Generic versions online go for around $25 for 60 (100mg) tablets.

Adults with ADHD often benefit from counseling. Sessions can help you improve your time management, problem solving, temper control, and other skills that ADHD may affect.

The counseling most often recommended for adults with ADHD includes:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. It challenges negative thoughts that may hold you back and could be based on irrational beliefs.
  • Marital counseling and family therapy. It helps to develop communication and problem-solving skills for both you and your loved ones.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on the therapist, program, and the number of sessions. Insurance may cover part of it. Most plans pay for 20 behavioral therapy sessions a year. Marriage or family counseling typically costs from $50 to $250 per session, according to one online directory. Health insurance may cover part of the cost of sessions but you will have copays that can be as high as $50 per visit.

ADHD coaching” is an idea that has caught on in recent years. It complements medication and therapy. A coach works with you on a plan to tackle practical goals ranging from managing your anxiety to managing your home. Coaches may or may not be licensed health professionals.

Tip: To find an ADHD coach near you, consult the ADHD Coaches Organization, the International Coach Federation, or the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder’s (CHADD) “Directory of Professionals, Products & Services.”

Reliable statistics on ADHD coaching fees are not available. Bloggers say it costs the same as therapy. So plan on $75 to $200 per session. Insurance does not pay for this type of help.

Tips: Ask potential coaches if they can offer a free session or if they charge on a sliding scale. Ask your doctor to write a prescription for an ADHD coach. That way you can deduct part of the fees from your taxes.

You should plan beyond out-of-pocket costs. You may face professional or personal costs. For example, you might worry that dealing with your ADHD symptoms will put a job, promotion, or social activity out of your reach. These indirect costs make a proactive approach to your treatment and symptom management even more important.

  • CHADD has a web page called 19 Tips for Finding Low-Cost ADHD Treatment.
  • Mayo Clinic’s web page on adult ADHD has helpful information on lifestyle and home remedies, and alternative medicines to consider; finding support groups; and preparing for your first doctor’s appointment.