Adult ADD / ADHD – How To Remember To Drink Water

by | Oct 5, 2011 | ADHD Symptom Control | 15 comments

drink water

In my last ADHD Success blog post I shared why drinking enough water is important in managing Attention Deficit. Today let’s talk about how you can remember to drink water if you have ADD / ADHD.

After all, as with most things Attention Deficit, knowing isn’t enough. This isn’t Knowledge Deficit Disorder. The tricky part is translating the knowing into doing.

Thinking we’ll remember to drink water doesn’t work. Just like we often don’t notice when we’re hungry, we don’t notice when we’re thirsty. The ADD / ADHD brain needs reminders.

Though I often recommend reminder systems, having a message pop up to drink some water will become annoying and before long you’ll delete the thing entirely.

In my experience I’ve found ADD / ADHD adults find it easier to remember certain tasks if they think in terms of hooks instead of reminders.

By hooks, I mean attaching – hooking – the behavior or habit you want to another action. A hook is essentially a mini routine that leads you from one activity to another.

How To Remember To Drink Water if you have ADD / ADHD

Hook drinking water like this:

  • Refill your coffee cup. Pour a cup of coffee, drink a glass of water
  • Get up in the morning – drink a glass of water
  • Go to the bathroom – drink a glass of water
  • Eat a snack – drink a glass of water
  • Walk by a drinking fountain – drink some water

See the pattern?

Of course you need to have a glass near a sink or a water bottle on hand. Remember it has to be easy or your won’t do it if you have ADD / ADHD.

You’ll have more success if you keep it simple.

ADD / ADHD adults can remember to drink water by hooking it to some other activity you are sure to do throughout the day.


  1. Melody

    I’m a 60 year old female, diagnosed 2 years ago with autism and ADHD and can’t stand drinking water. Has to have SOMETHING in it. I have been adding Decaf Chai Tea liquid and almond milk to water and ice in order to have something to sip on. Or decaf coffee iced (but that’s dehydrating in itself I guess)………Ritalin makes my tummy not so good. Have to now take 2 Zantacs every day and don’t feel like eating much of anything from late afternoon on. Everything I eat is forced and drinking my spicy decaf tea I used to love? Forget it. So, water is pretty much OUT. ;-(

    • Dana Rayburn

      Ah Melody, that’s too bad. It makes everything harder. I often add a splash of coconut water or lemon to my water. Perhaps something like that will help. Also, does eating BEFORE you take your Ritalin help your tummy feel better? ADHD bodies can be so sensitive. Sorry I don’t have an easy answer! Dana

  2. Melody

    Thanks Dana. Can’t do lemon due to the citric acid (I thought) but Can do coconut water.


    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Melody – My understanding is that the citric acid blocks the stimulant medication absorption for only about an hour after you take the meds. Though coconut water is good, too! – Dana

  3. Kat

    How much water is recommended per dosing of Ritalin?

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Kat, According to Dr. Daniel Amen, the recommended amount of water to drink is twice your weight in ounces a day. Dana

      • David Holman

        I could have sworn it was half your body weight in fluid ounces. Is this specific to Ritalin? What about Adderall?

        • Dana Rayburn

          You’re right, David. According to Dr Amen, we need to drink half our body weight in fluid ounces a day. (Weigh 200 lbs? Drink 100 ounces.) This is a human thing; not just an ADHD thing. Though staying hydrated is especially important for people with ADHD, because a dehydrated brain doesn’t work as well. And, if you’re taking a stimulant medication for ADHD like Ritalin or Adderall, it becomes even more important because a medication side effect is dehydration. Hope this helps, Dana

  4. Joanne

    I’ve just found this website and so far im pleasantly surprised. I’ve been searching for the past few days for a positive place to discuss medication and changing behaviors.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Thanks so much! We aim to provide a place where people can come to get the right information.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Thanks, Joanne! Glad you’re here. Dana

  5. Daquan

    How does this dehydration make you feel? My muscle feel very tired and it makes being active difficult.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Dehydration makes me sluggish and my brain foggy. Like I’m trying to think through mud. I also get a headache. Hope this helps, Dana

  6. Hakn

    I was diagnosed ADD 2 months ago and prescribed concerta 36mg. i got med for first month. Hilarious. I fixed a lot of stuff in my business and life. ( Computer Engineer) , and the next month i prescribed again for two boxes of 36 mg. at the 18th week, all the magic disappeared. And my doc is not available because he s in holiday.

    What should i do ? Should i try to double ?

    And i realised that i dont drink water at all but i drink a lot of tea everyday. maybe 1.5 liters of black tea without suger.
    Doesnt it count ?


    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Hakn, It sounds like you need a medication increase. Many people need their dose increased to reach their best focus and functioning. Will your doctor return from holiday soon? It’s best to wait and increase under his guidance. Doubling on your own may be too much. You want the smallest does that gets the best result.

      Regarding tea – current thinking says that is as good as water. Especially if it’s not sweetened.

      Good luck! Dana


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