Carlos was quite the handful as a child. Teachers and neighbours complained but his family thought Carlos would eventually grow out of his “high spirits.” His dad looked back at his own restless energy as a kid.

But, as Carlos entered high school, he couldn’t settle down. His teachers said that he was disorganized and that he daydreamed. His marks continued to erode, along with his social life, and he ended up with the wrong kind of people.

Carlos started doing drugs at school to cope with life’s stresses. He turned to petty crime, droped out of school, and became increasingly alienated from his family.

When Carlos was briefly incarcerated, his family’s shock turned to action in convincing him to seek professional help.

That’s how Carlos was referred to the Douglas at the age of 29.

Carlos at the Douglas

A team at the Douglas assessed Carlos and discovered that he suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Left untreated, the disorder had been further inflamed by drugs, alcohol, and poor lifestyle choices.

The Douglas team offered Carlos a range of therapies that involved his family in treatment. A combination of medication, psychotherapy, and psychoeducation enabled Carlos to recognize his situation for the first time. With help, he kicked his drug and alcohol use.

Now 36, Carlos has a 3.85 GPA in university, holds down a job, and is an avid musician — accomplishments that would have once astounded his parents, teachers, and classmates.

He admits that, before treatment, he had trouble focusing. He gravitated toward the wrong people and made poor choices.

Carlos has a sunny, “the glass is half-full” outlook these days.

But sometimes he can’t help wondering how different life would have been if he’d been diagnosed and treated in childhood. How many years would Carlos have gained and how much less would his family have suffered?