As the front man of Grammy Award-winning recording artists Maroon 5, Adam Levine has left an indelible mark on popular music. The primary songwriter of the band and a guitar player, Levine’s talents give Maroon 5 their signature sound. His heartfelt ballads and pop anthems have become part of the fabric of this decade's music scene. In addition to his work with Maroon 5, Levine is a coach on the NBC hit series “The Voice.” He is also an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Q: I understand you were first diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager. What kinds of difficulties were you having that lead you to see a doctor?
Levine: Throughout my life, I struggled with ADHD. I had the symptoms of ADHD – inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity. It was hard for me at times to sit down, focus and get school work done. I was frustrated because of the challenges I was having in school. I was really struggling.
Q: What were your thoughts about ADHD when you were first diagnosed?
Levine: My doctor diagnosed me with ADHD in my early teens. What was really helpful to me was learning that this was a real medical condition – I had ADHD. The diagnosis helped explain the challenges I was having in school, including my difficulty focusing, sitting down and getting my school work done.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about what it was like growing up with ADHD? What it was like at school? With friends? Whether there were any family members or teachers who made a big difference in your life?
Levine: During high school I was a well-rounded kid and I don’t think my peers noticed that I was different in any way but personally I struggled with academics, even though I knew I was fully capable of performing well in school. My parents were so great and supportive while I was growing up. They were really patient with me, especially when helping me devise a plan along with my doctor so I could move forward with a treatment that worked for my life.
Q: How has ADHD impacted your life as an adult?
Levine: As a young adult and adult, I continued having difficulty in the studio as I was trying to write new songs and focus to complete my work. On the first album I remember very distinctly being stuck and not being able to focus. And I had 30 ideas floating through my mind and just couldn’t document them. I went back to the doctor to discuss my symptoms and learned that I still had ADHD and that it could affect me as a young adult or adult. Once I knew that I still had ADHD, I was able to work with my doctor to help manage my symptoms. What is surprising to many people is that ADHD is not just a childhood disorder – it also affects an estimated 10 million adults in the US.
Q: What has been most helpful for you in regards to managing symptoms?
Levine: Finding out that I still had ADHD and working with my doctor to come up with a treatment plan that works for me has helped me manage my ADHD.
Q: What is the Own It public service campaign?
Levine: “Own It” is a campaign I’m working on with the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and Shire to help those who were diagnosed with ADHD as a kid to recognize that their symptoms may still affect them as young adults and adults and to encourage them to get reassessed by their doctor.
Q: Is there any advice you’d like to share with kids or teens with ADHD, their parents, teachers, or other adults with ADHD who may still be trying to find their way?
Levine: If you were diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, you might still have it. If someone thinks they may have ADHD, they should talk with their doctor about it. There is a helpful website, www.OwnYourADHD.com, where they can take a quick ADHD quiz and then discuss the results with their doctor. I would also remind young adults and adults that ADHD isn’t a bad thing and that they shouldn’t feel any different than kids without ADHD. Always remember there are others going through the same thing.
Adam Levine, Interview/email correspondence through Maria Sekar. October 17, 2011.