Treating behavioral disorders in teens with ADHD

Feb 16, 2015
Tagged with: Treating behavioral disorders in teens with ADHD

According to, three to five percent of teens battle attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those with ADHD can also have at least one other developmental or behavioral disorder. Two of the most common among teens are conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. notes that about 50 percent of teens with ADHD eventually develop one of these disorders.
Unfortunately, teens diagnosed with accompanying behavioral disorders are more likely demonstrate negative long-term outcomes. Early diagnosis and treatment for these disorders is essential for the prevention of other risky behaviors in teens, such as substance abuse and criminal activity.

Conduct disorder
Approximately 20 to 40 percent of teens with ADHD develop conduct disorder, which is defined as a long-term or repetitive pattern of behavior in which social norms, rules or the basic rights of other individuals are violated. The symptoms of conduct disorder may vary, depending on the severity of the disorder and the age of the teen. Common symptoms fall into four basic categories of behavior:

  • Destructive behavior – this involves non-aggressive, intentional behavior that may result in property damage or loss. Examples of this behavior include arson and vandalism
  • Aggressive behavior – aggressive behavior includes behaviors that cause physical harm or the threat to harm other individuals. This type of behavior may include cruelty to animals or humans, fighting, the use of weapons and bullying
  • Rule violation – rule violation involves violating the rules of society or displaying behaviors that are inappropriate for the teen’s age. Examples of these behaviors include running away from home, truancy and premature sexual activity
  • Criminal behavior – criminal behavior may include breaking into vehicles to steal, shoplifting or possession of an illegal weapon

Teens with conduct behavior may have other problems. They may have poor self-esteem and little concern or empathy for the feelings of other individuals. They often engage in self-destructive behavior and they may be irritable and moody. In most cases, teens with this disorder have no feelings of remorse or guilt and they often interpret the intentions of others as being hostile.
If your teen is displaying any of the signs of conduct disorder, it is important to see a mental health professional. Teens with this disorder have a higher chance of getting into trouble with the law and they have a higher risk for substance abuse. Medications and psychotherapy are often used to treat the disorder, and teens with ADHD and conduct disorder may benefit from therapeutic schools as well.

Oppositional defiant disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral disorder that can occur in teens with ADHD.  Statistics show that approximately 40 percent of children or teens with ADHD will develop oppositional defiant disorder. This disorder is characterized by persistent, frequent patterns of defiant behavior, argumentative behavior, anger, vindictiveness and irritability. While it can affect both sexes, it is more common in boys with ADHD. Symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder may include:

  • Regularly argues with adults
  • Frequently loses temper
  • Refuses to comply with rules or requests from adults
  • Deliberately tries to annoy others
  • Often shows anger
  • Is often vindictive and spiteful
  • Regularly blames other individuals for misbehavior and mistakes
  • Is easily annoyed or touchy
  • Displays chronic aggression
  • Has frequent outbursts

Early treatment is imperative, since this type of behavior becomes more difficult to treat the longer it continues. When treating this disorder, it is essential to ensure that the teen’s ADHD is controlled. Behavioral modification techniques can be used to manage this disorder. If oppositional defiant disorder becomes severe, teens may need to be seen by a behavioral therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy, often in combination with prescribed medication can be very helpful for ADHD patients.  Most therapists will include the family members in the process and with the parent’s permission; teachers should be informed so they may adjust their approach to the teen.
A little patience, support and encouragement goes a long way when dealing with a teen with ADHD. Encourage your teen to break tasks into individual parts and tackle one part at a time.  If an hour’s worth of homework is required, set a timer or alarm for 30 minutes and have your teen do the job in two parts with a break in between.
While multiple treatment options are available for ADHD and accompanying behavior disorders, in some cases, separation from the current environment is required. Teens may require consistent behavior management and modification, along with external discipline. When these problems become severe, parents may want to consider troubled youth programs or therapeutic boarding schools for children with ADHD. These types of programs often offer hope to both the patient and the parents of teens who have been diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder.

The author, Nina Hales is an energetic, self motivated writer who lives in Texas. She is a passionate writer with a great  experience in writing. She writes creative articles on various channels such as Health, Internet Marketing, Technology, Finance, Home Improvement, Fashion etc. so people can get something new for read and learn from them. Right now she is writing for the White River Academy, a troubled boys school in U.S.A.


Author: Nina Hales

  • bobl07

    Thank you for the information on this topic. It is something not that many people know how to deal with.