Recognition and Treatment of Adventure Deficit Disorder

Adventure Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects the mind, body, and soul. It is marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with activities of daily living.

  • Impulsivity: Makes hasty gear purchases that occur in the moment without first thinking about them; may be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others with stories of past adventures or gear reviews. 
  • Inattention: Wanders off task, has difficulty sustaining focus, is disorganized, readily confuses work with productivity and is frequently caught scrolling through Instagram.
  • Hyperactivity: Excessively fidgets, taps, or talks. In adults, it may be an inability to chill or wearing others out with constant activity.

Diagnosis of ADHD requires a comprehensive evaluation by an Adventure Specialist or dedicated Gearhead. For a person to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be chronic or long-lasting, impair the person’s functioning, and cause the person to not "act their age" (WTF is that supposed to mean anyway??). Most adults with ADHD receive a diagnosis in their early 40's. 

Treatment and Therapies

While there is no cure for Adventure Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, currently available treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Treatments include adventure planning, micro-adventures, technology breaks, or a combination of treatments. 

Check out three of my favorite destinations and start planning your next adventure today! 

Amanda's Trail

While only 3.7 miles long, Amanda's Trail is a surreal section of the Oregon Coast Trail. Steeped in history and offering views of the rocky basalt shoreline from Yachats, Oregon to Cape Perpetua, this trail packs a punch for a quick hike. Extend your adventure by continuing along the OCT. 

Buckskin Gulch 

Buckskin Gulch is an uninterrupted 13-mile slot canyon located 44 miles east of Kanab, Utah. Allegedly one of, if not the longest and deepest slot canyon in the world. 

Kootenay National Park, British Columbia Canada 

Although lesser known than Banff and Jasper National Parks, Kootenay showcases all of the beauty of the Canadian Rockies without the crowds. Floe Lake is a gem found off the beaten path! 

I hope these three destinations have helped initiate your first phase of treatment. While spontaneity has a certain romantic quality, the benefits of delayed gratification by planning your adventure in advance are also rewarding. Advanced planning may also save you time and money. Remember to slow down, be flexible, enjoy the process, and let your adventure unfold!

"Pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory." - Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

A micro-adventure is a great way to refresh oneself and may be found as near as your own backyard. One of my favorite micro-adventures has been an overnight fast-pack in the Wasatch Mountains. Somehow the trails that I routinely run seemed different when I approached them with a more adventurous spirit, uncertain where I would eventually hang my hammock for the night. 

National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012, Alastair Humphreys, coined the phrase, "5-to-9 adventure." Alastair says the key ingredient is sleeping outside. I would also include cooking over a fire and taking from break from technology. When spent wisely, those 16 hours can seem like days. 

"So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it. Just as when ample and princely wealth falls to a bad owner it is squandered in a moment, but wealth however modest, if entrusted to a good custodian, increases with use, so our lifetime extends amply if you manage it properly.” -Seneca (5 BC-65 AD) 

True wisdom seems timeless and easy to identify with, right? It's basically a long-form fortune without the cookie. The challenge seems to be how to apply it to our busy, modern-day lives? Throw caution to the wind, and your next adventure may just give you answers to questions that you never thought to ask. 

Published: January 17, 2017

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Jason Asleson

Park City

Trail-junkie; Full-time van dweller and clinical pharmacist based in Park City, Utah.