ADHD and Addiction

ADHD and addiction is more common amongst adolesence

ADHD and Addiction, Is Substance Abuse More Common In Those With ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD) has been linked to substance abuse in teens and adults. ADHD is a medical condition where there is hyperactivity, inability to focus, and poor impulse control. Those with ADHD have trouble sitting still, paying attention and focusing on one task or activity at a time.Untreated ADHD in teens and adults can increase the likelihood of substance abuse. For those in recovery, untreated ADHD can bring up feelings of depression, lack of fulfillment, and suicidal thoughts, all of which could lead to relapse.

Substance abuse treatment, psychotherapy, and participation in 12-Step groups has helped many substance abusers to recover. However, for those who have both ADHD and addiction, something more is needed. To maximize the chances of recovery, substance abusers with ADHD should be treated for both conditions concurrently.

What Is The Relationship Between ADHD And Addiction?ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood. Fifty percent of kids with ADHD continue to have this condition into adulthood. Studies suggest that there is a direct relationship between ADHD and addiction. ADHD is ten times more common in addicts than in non-addicts. Twenty-five percent of those treated for substance abuse also suffer from ADHD. Almost 25 percent of 15 year old teens with untreated ADHD abuse drugs and alcohol, while teens and young adults with untreated ADHD are more likely to abuse substances and to start using substances earlier than those without ADHD.

Are Kids Treated With Ritalin More Likely To Become Substance Abusers As Adults?Kids with ADHD are often given stimulant medications like Ritalin to improve attention while decreasing hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. However, Ritalin may be addictive; some have called it “the poor man’s cocaine.” Treating ADHD kids with medication can convey the message that “taking something” is a good way to get rid of unwanted and unpleasant emotions and behaviors. This could encourage kids with ADHD to abuse substances in the future.

Treating ADHD In Substance AbusersStudies indicate that up to five percent of adults with ADHD don’t know they have this condition. Teens and adults with untreated ADHD often use substances to “self-medicate.” In other words, they use drugs and alcohol to reduce ADHD symptoms and to improve mood and day-to-day functioning. This is different than using substances primarily as a way to get drunk or high.Some addiction specialists believe that stimulant drugs or antidepressant medications should be prescribed for recovering substance abusers with untreated ADHD. The thinking is that when someone with ADHD takes a prescription medication as directed, it will relieve their symptoms and reduce the chances of relapse.

Given the relationship between ADHD and addiction, many treatment professionals agree that treating ADHD with a prescribed medication to keep ADHD symptoms manageable is a better alternative than doing nothing and putting recovering substance abusers with ADHD in the position of having to use illegal drugs and alcohol to feel better.

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