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ADHD and Addiction

ADHD is typically associated with difficulty sitting still, difficulty with focus, and hyperactivity. While these associations are not inaccurate, ADHD affects a lot more than just focus. People with ADHD tend to be more impulsive than others. Impulsivity and other factors associated with ADHD have been shown to increase the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse in people with ADHD. In other words, there is a link between ADHD and addiction. People with ADHD can often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the symptoms of ADHD. This can cause other problems in their lives. Luckily, there are ways to treat ADHD and addiction. 

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder. It is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in childhood, with symptoms often continuing into adulthood. 

Everyone has difficulty focusing from time to time. But while it’s normal to occasionally zone out, or forget where the car keys went, those with ADHD find these symptoms interfering with their day-to-day lives. As a result, it can be hard for people with ADHD to function and complete everyday tasks.

In adulthood, ADHD can look like:

  • Extreme restlessness
  • Short term memory loss or forgetfulness 
  • Insomnia 
  • Impulsive behavior 
  • Difficulty maintaining concentration
  • Difficulty finishing tasks
  • Difficulty organizing projects and life responsibilities
  • Regularly losing items
  • Fidgeting
  • Difficulty listening 
  • Trouble with time management

The ADHD brain is naturally lower in chemicals like dopamine, which is the brain’s satisfaction and pleasure chemical. Dopamine makes it easier for a person to complete tasks and sustain long-term commitments. By the same measure, a lack of dopamine can lead to difficulty with focus and becoming bored very easily.

It is important to note that ADHD can look different in different people. Nevertheless, the above symptoms typically show up in some form. When left untreated, ADHD can cause high levels of stress for those affected by the disorder.

Adults with ADHD can have trouble performing to the best of their ability at work. This is because symptoms like distractibility and difficulty managing time. In other words, ADHD can make it hard to manage a workload, which can lead to burnout.

In addition, ADHD can affect areas of life outside of the workplace. The disorder can have a negative impact on social and emotional relationships with others. People with ADHD often have low impulse control. As a result, people with ADHD tend to interrupt others when they are talking, or zone out during conversations. Symptoms like forgetfulness can result in forgetting to return the calls and texts of loved ones. 

In comparison, neurotypical (those not affected by a neurological disorder like ADHD), paying attention to conversations and completing daily tasks may seem fairly easy. However, to someone with ADHD, these tasks can often feel like moving mountains. 

Adults with ADHD may feel like they are falling short in many areas of life at all times. Understandably, this can cause stress and anxiety. To escape stress and anxiety, those with ADHD may try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Further, because of how the ADHD brain is wired, these individuals can more easily become addicted to these substances. 

What Causes ADHD?

At this time, scientists continue to research the causes of ADHD because the exact causes and risk factors are unknown. However, current research shows that genetics play an important role in whether or not a person will develop ADHD. 

A 2012 study found that ADHD has a high heritability rate, ranging from 75% to 91%. 

If a parent has ADHD, it’s likely it could be passed down to the children. In addition, If a sibling has ADHD, it’s likely the other siblings may also have ADHD.

It is important to note that genetics are not the only possible causes for ADHD. Other possible cause and risk factors include:

  • Brain injury 
  • Premature birth 
  • Low birth weight 
  • Use of alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy
  • Lead exposure during pregnancy 

What is the Link Between ADHD and Addiction?

Believe it or not, there is a link between ADHD and addiction. People with ADHD often struggle with impulse control. Because of this, individuals with ADHD have a higher chance of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. 

In addition, there is a genetic component to alcoholism. If a person with ADHD has a parent with alcoholism it is likely that the child will be more susceptible to alcoholism. Furthermore, many people with ADHD turn to substances to cope with the symptoms of ADHD. These substances increase dopamine and feel good sensations in the ADHD brain. 

How to Treat ADHD & Addiction

One of the most effective ways to treat ADHD and addiction is called the dual diagnostic approach. The dual diagnostic approach addresses both ADHD and addiction at the same time. It uses various forms of therapy to help the individual develop and maintain healthy habits. 

A Dual Diagnosis program typically focuses on: 

Dual Diagnosis programs help people manage their ADHD symptoms by altering their response to triggers. This helps treat the addiction that an individual with ADHD might have developed to cope with their ADHD.

At Retreat of Atlanta, our mission is to help people overcome challenges they may encounter during the recovery process. After all, dealing with ADHD and addiction alone is stressful and overwhelming. For this reason, a medically supervised detox and treatment program, one that addresses both the substance use disorder and any possible co-occurring disorders, offers a person the best chance at a successful recovery and long-term wellness.

We offer: 

  • Detox 
  • Aftercare program 
  • Individual therapy program 
  • Group therapy program

Get Treatment for Your ADHD and Addiction

In conclusion, if you or a loved one is dealing with ADHD and addiction, you know the struggles that come with dealing with ADHD and addiction. Here at The Retreat of Atlanta, we aim to give you the best recovery possible. Contact us for a unique drug and alcohol detox experience. We are here to support you on your recovery journey.


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