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The Costs of Adult ADHD

Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on March 25, 2021

One in 23 adults ages 18 to 44 has a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). If you are one of them, you should prepare for your treatment’s costs as much as its lifestyle demands. An average adult with ADHD spends about $1,493 a year on doctors and therapists. Medications add $735. There may be other out-of-pocket costs, too. Even with health insurance, you may be responsible for all or some of your care costs. For example, you might need to make a copayment for 30% of the total.

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

Medication

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:

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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. Even one of the lower prices found online is $420 for 30 patches. Adderall is much less expensive. One online seller offers a generic for $15 for 30 tablets. A 30% insurance copay would be $126 or $4.50, respectively.

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) was the first FDA-approved non-stimulant 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.

You can get atomoxetine online for as little as $45 (30% copay is $13.80) for 30 capsules. You might get it for less if you find a coupon.

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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 $5.18 ($1.55 copay) for 30 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 $3.60 ($1.08 copay) for 60 tablets. Generic guanfacine goes for as little as $6 ($1.80 copay) for 30 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 $22 ($6.60 copay) for 30 tablets.

Therapy

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.

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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.

A therapy session typically costs $100 to $200. Check whether your insurance plan covers any or all of the cost.  Marriage or family counseling typically costs from $75 to $200 per session, according to one online directory. Most health insurance doesn’t help with the cost.

Coaching

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.”

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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.

Indirect Costs

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.

More Resources

  • 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.
WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

National Institute of Mental Health: “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

Mayo Clinic: “Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: “Treatment of ADHD in Adults,” “Medication Management,” “19 Tips for Finding Low-Cost ADHD Treatment,” “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” “Coaching.”

ADDitude magazine: “We Can’t Afford to Treat Our ADHD.”

American Psychiatric Association: “Economic Impact of ADHD in the United States.”

Neurological Disorders & Epilepsy Journal: “Cost Effectiveness of ADHD Treatment from Childhood to Adulthood.”

Psychology Today: “Cost and Insurance Coverage.”

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