ADHD and Addiction

ADHD and Addiction

We present the information on this page as a generalized, educational overview. Specific details below regarding treatment protocols may not reflect the protocols utilized by Compass Recovery.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like to learn more about Compass Recovery and our individualized programs for those struggling with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders.

What is ADHD?

ADHD relates to addiction and causes a wide range of effects in individuals of various ages. People experiencing ADHD and addiction may have social isolation, depression, and the inability to form strong bonds with others. Some individuals may also have risk-taking behaviors due to the condition. 

As a mental health condition, it is imperative to treat it appropriately in both children and adults. According to the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both stimulants and non-stimulants help treat the condition. Keep reading for more details about the condition, including the types, symptoms, and how it relates to addiction.1  

ADHD stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a mental health condition that results in high levels of hyperactive behaviors. Individuals experiencing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may also find it challenging to focus on a specific task or remain still for extended periods.2

What Causes ADHD? 

Medical experts are not certain about the specific causes of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, there are various contributing factors in both children and adults.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, genetics is a possible contributing factor to the condition. Other potential causes include brain injury, premature delivery, or low birth weight.

ADD vs. ADHD 

ADD (attention deficit disorder) is synonymous with ADHD. ADD is an old medical term describing the same condition or symptoms as Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. In most cases, the term “ADHD” also describes an inattentive-type attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder with major symptoms like forgetfulness and disorganization. Hence, some medical practitioners use ADD and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder interchangeably. 

Statistics on ADHD 

According to the CDC, scientists discovered  6.1 million children between the ages of two to seventeen years in the United States had ADHD diagnoses. Researchers also discovered that children in rural areas had higher chances of ADHD diagnosis. These young adults also have a low tendency of receiving behavioral treatment compared to children in suburban or urban regions.3 

A 2016 study proves the worldwide prevalence of adult ADHD falls around 2.8%. In the United States, the prevalence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder varies. According to a 2019 study, the prevalence of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is estimated at 0.96%, which has doubled since the statistics from ten years ago.

Types of ADHD

For better diagnosis of the mental health condition, ADHD falls under three different major types. Each of these kinds has unique symptoms. According to the American Psychiatric Association, here are the different types of ADHD: 

Inattentive ADHD

Individuals with inattentive ADHD have problems retaining concentration or focus. They may face challenges in finishing tasks and following specific instructions. Apart from those symptoms, both adults and children may experience: 

  • Forgetfulness 
  • Making mistakes often
  • Losing important objects 
  • Lack of attention to detail 

Experts believe children with ADHD may not get the appropriate diagnosis because they tend to behave well in classrooms. For this reason, proper diagnosis requires individuals to display several symptoms. 

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD 

People diagnosed with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD experience hyperactive and impulsive behavior. Major examples of these symptoms include interrupting others and fidgeting. With this type of condition, individuals may also have trouble focusing on crucial tasks. 

Other symptoms of the condition may include: 

  • Squirming 
  • Having problems playing quietly
  • Standing up often when seated
  • Climbing or running at the wrong times 

Combination Type 

Like the name suggests, individuals with this type experience a combination of both hyperactive and inattentive symptoms. The combination ADHD is one of the common types within and outside the United States. Treatment for this kind of mental health condition may change with time. For this reason, it is important to consult a mental health expert for help. 

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

Signs and symptoms depend on the types of ADHD. In most cases, ADHD symptoms appear during childhood. Additional problems like depression or dyslexia in children or young adults may remain till adulthood.

Inattentive Symptoms 

Signs and symptoms of inattentiveness include: 

  • Short attention span and easy distraction 
  • Challenges in organizing tasks 
  • Frequent change in tasks or activity 
  • Careless mistakes 
  • Forgetfulness or losing objects 
  • Inability to stick to tedious or time-consuming tasks

Hyperactive Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of hyperactivity include: 

  • Problems staying seated 
  • Hitting other students as a child 
  • Talking at the wrong times 
  • Short attention span 
  • Challenges in remembering people’s names 

Impulsive Symptoms 

Impulsive symptoms are closely similar to those of hyperactivity. Here are the impulsive symptoms to note: 

  • Impatience with waiting inline 
  • Blurting out answers before the questions 
  • Interrupting others in conversations 
  • Engaging in risky or antisocial activities without weighing the consequences 
  • Significant temper outbursts 

The Connection Between ADHD and Addiction

Individuals experiencing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder typically experience substance use disorder. A significant reason for drug abuse in these persons is due to effects like social isolation and depression. Many individuals also turn to substance use due to the negative impact of ADHD on work or academic performance. They may abuse stimulants and antidepressants.

What Causes Addiction? 

Here are the possible causes of addiction in both teens and adults:

  • Reduced Impulse Control: An individual experiencing reduced impulse control has challenges with emotion and behavior control. People experiencing this condition tend to turn to substance use for better emotion control.
  • Behavioral IssuesWhen individuals face behavioral issues relating to impulsivity, inattention, or defiant behavior, there is a tendency to develop a substance use disorder.
  • Self-Medication: Certain persons may need to experience relief from discomfort, enhance mood, or escape reality. For these reasons, individuals tend to self-meditate. Due to the calming effects of certain substances, addiction from self-medication typically occurs.  

Treatment for ADHD and Addiction

Mental health professionals employ different treatment options for both ADHD and addiction. These experts typically treat both simultaneously through a dual diagnosis program.  

Detox for Dual Diagnosis SUD and ADHD 

A dual diagnosis’s primary aim is to modify destructive thoughts and actions that encourage substance use disorder. It focuses on helping individuals manage the symptoms of ADD and modify responses in recovery. 

Therapies 

Both group therapy and personal addiction therapy help individuals learn new skills for coping with the symptoms of ADD. It teaches people experiencing these conditions to manage their symptoms more effectively without substance use. 

ADHD Medications 

Doctors recommend the use of stimulants as an ADHD treatment substance. These ADHD medications fall under different categories, including short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting substances. It’s imperative to follow the doctor’s prescription for ADD meds. 

Aftercare 

During aftercare, the individual experiences nursing and care. This treatment procedure applies to persons in recovery for ADHD and addiction.

Outlook

ADHD and addiction require proper diagnosis and treatment for both adults and children. When an individual observes the visible symptoms of ADHD, it is important to consult a mental health professional. Avoid self-medication to prevent health complications. 

Resources

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/treatment.html
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28722868/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/features/national-prevalence-adhd-and-treatment.html
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27866355/

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