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ADHD and Addiction

ADHD & Addiction

FIIND OUR HOW ADHD AND ADDICTION ARE TWO OF THE MOST COMMON DISORDERS. Medication used to treat ADHD is prescribed and controlled by a medical professional and while it may have the potential to lead to addiction this is not usually the case.

Research has shown that medication used to treat ADHD is not a gateway drug and that those who use the prescribed amount of ADHD medication to treat their symptoms are less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol than those who do not take medication for the disorder. The question is, why are people with ADHD more prone to drug and alcohol addiction? In this article, we will talk about ADHD and its symptoms, how ADHD can be linked to substance abuse and how to treat ADHD together with substance abuse to create long-lasting sobriety while managing the symptoms of the disorder.

What is ADHD and What Are The Symptoms?

ADHD otherwise known as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurological disorder that is often diagnosed during childhood.


ADHD may continue to affect a person well into adulthood making it hard for them to stay still, pay attention, focus, control impulsive behavior and cope with mundane daily tasks.


The Characteristics Of A Person Who Has ADHD


Although the symptoms of ADHD may vary from person to person the typical symptoms of ADHD can be the following:

  • The inability to pay attention and focus
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Impulsive behavior

Adults who have ADHD can have problems performing to the best of their ability in the workplace as the symptoms of ADHD can cause them to be extremely disorganized making them overlook some of their work commitments.

Other areas of their lives can also be affected such as social and emotional relationships with others. This is because those who suffer from ADHD often do or say things without thinking especially when they are not paying attention because they become easily distracted.


Behavioral patterns are usually made up of the following:

  • Fidgeting all the time
  • Forgetfulness
  • The inability to organize projects and responsibilities.
  • Difficulty listening to others
  • Losing or misplacing personal items regularly
  • Difficulty finishing tasks and being easily distracted
  • People with ADHD find it hard to control speech or actions

It is essentially these daily frustrations that can cause a person with ADHD to turn to drugs or alcohol to relax, escape and slow down.


Watch this video to give you a more in depth look at what people with ADHD deal with daily. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzGQ4dkyl8U

How Does ADHD Develop?

Various factors can affect a person’s chance of developing Attention Deficit Disorder. These factors can include the following:

Exposure to Toxic Substances During Pregnancy

Various factors can affect a person’s chance of developing Attention Deficit Disorder. These factors can include the following:

The Effects of Trauma

Various factors can affect a person’s chance of developing Attention Deficit Disorder. These factors can include the following:

Genetic Factors

Genetic factors are one of the most common causes of ADHD making it an extremely hereditary disorder. Children born to parents or a parent that has been previously diagnosed with ADHD are more than four times more likely to develop the same disorder.

ADHD and Substance Abuse

People with ADHD tend to be more inclined to use drugs or alcohol as a way in which to cope with their symptoms. This can lead to a cycle of addiction that is almost impossible to treat without the help of professionals.


Research has shown that about 21 percent of males with ADHD and 13 percent of females with ADHD abuse drugs or alcohol. The reason for this is that many people who have ADHD use these substances to try and combat their symptoms.


At the Retreat of Atlanta, we’ve created a sober-living residential addiction treatment program that emphasizes ongoing care, transparency, and all the resources you’ll need for long-term recovery.


But the reality is that not all drug recovery services are created equal. Different facilities cater to different types of clients and have different amenities. There are typically differences in the standards of treatment available as well. Some only provide outpatient care, while some are residential drug recovery facilities.


However, if you believe your addiction is serious enough to necessitate medically induced detox, The Retreat of Atlanta’s drug addiction recovery program might be the best fit for you.

Why do People WIth ADHD Self-Medicate?

People with ADHD tend to have lower levels of dopamine in the brain which is why drugs and alcohol can become so appealing.


Self-medication can be described as the way a person turns to substances such as drugs, alcohol, and smoking to try and deal with their condition. These substances help to boost dopamine levels in the brain and increase feel-good sensations.

Alcohol Abuse

People with ADHD tend to use alcohol to ease the stress and deal with social problems that usually come with the condition. Unfortunately turning to alcohol only makes the problem worse as there is a strong link between compulsive behavior and heavy drinking amongst people who have ADHD.

Drug Abuse

Cocaine, heroin, and other illicit drugs can worsen the effects of ADHD. Some people with ADHD think that cannabis will help them to ease their disorder, but this can in fact worsen their attention span and focus making it even harder for them to contain their impulses.

ADHD and Addiction

There are a few treatment programs that can simultaneously address both a person’s addiction and ADHD disorder. This is called the dual diagnostic approach and it uses various forms of therapy to help the person to develop healthy habits to help them heal and start with their recovery.


It is important to treat both disorders simultaneously to break the cycle of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and other forms of self-medication. A dual diagnosis program is often the most effective way in which to treat the addiction and ADHD at the same time


A dual diagnosis program usually focuses on the following:

  • Helping a person to identify triggers that may lead them to drugs or alcohol
  • Teaching the person how to manage their impulses
  • Encouraging and motivating the person allowing them to build up their self-esteem
  • Educating loved ones about ADHD and addiction
  • Controlling the symptoms of ADHD with medication therapy

Dual diagnosis programs can help the individual to manage the symptoms of their ADHD by modifying their response to triggers while they are in recovery. This way the individual can live a healthy and functional life without being dependant on substances.

What the Retreat of Atlanta Can Do For You

At The Retreat of Atlanta, our goal is to place you in the best facility possible so that you can heal and find long-term healing. If you visit one of our facilities or another, we will assist anyone who approaches us in finding the best place for them to recover.


This is the first step toward complete sobriety. At our drug and alcohol recovery center, patients go through a specific medical detox in which they extract toxic chemicals from their bodies, restoring their bodies to their previous safe state.

Aftercare Program

This is a service that assists patients after they have left the treatment center. This ensures that the patients do not relapse particularly on disorders such as drug abuse. It also assists them in rebuilding their lives into more prosperous ones.

Individual Therapy Program

This form of counseling is more personal and private. A client is assigned a licensed therapist by the clinic. It mostly refers to patients who have difficulty communicating. It is the most efficient approach for treating psychiatric disorders. The psychiatrist assists you in determining the root causes of your symptoms.

Group Therapy Program

Staying sober is significantly harder than stopping drugs or alcohol which is why it is important for those who have ADHD to keep taking their ADHD medication.

A person with ADHD can also maintain sobriety by making some healthy lifestyle changes such as:

# 1 Getting Enough Rest

Sleep is extremely important to those who have ADHD. The times in which a person sleeps are just as important because most relapses happen between the times of 11 pm and 7 am so it is important to go to bed on time and not stay up all night.

# 2 Eating Regularly

It is important to eat three meals a day as well as an array of healthy snacks. A person with ADHD should try to limit the amount of caffeine and sugar that they consume.

# 3 Reaching Out To Avoid Loneliness

A person suffering from ADHD needs a good support structure so that they can reach out to others in times of loneliness. A good support structure will significantly help to reduce the risk of them turning to drugs and alcohol.

# 4 Anger Management

It is very important for a person who suffers from ADHD to learn how to manage their emotions. If a person with ADHD is feeling restless and irritable it can easily lead to alcohol or substance abuse. A great way to overcome this would be to write about their feelings in a journal or talk to a psychotherapist.


There are also programs and therapy that can be used to help the person remain free of drugs and alcohol. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be extremely effective in preventing a relapse.


At The Retreat of Atlanta, our team is here to represent you. Our mission is to assist you in overcoming the challenges or roadblocks that you can encounter during your early recovery.


Although dealing with some problems alone can be overwhelming, our team can work with you on legal, financial, technical, or other issues. We will assist you in thriving during your early recovery.

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