What Is ADHD?The American Psychiatric Association describes ADHD as a disorder characterized by above-average hyperactivity, impulsivity, and trouble focusing. Symptoms may include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Being easily distracted
- Difficulty sitting still
- Interrupting others
The Connection Between ADHD & Substance AbuseA 2014 study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found a strong correlation between addiction and ADHD. The study tracked 1,276 people from seven different countries (Hungary, Norway, France, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, and Sweden) who were suffering from and seeking help for substance abuse. The average rate of ADHD in the general population is about 6 to 9 percent. By comparison, the results showed that the average rate of ADHD in this addicted population was much higher, even after adjusting for other factors. In Norway, for example, 31.3 percent of the addicted population met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD (4). Another study found that teenagers around 14 years of age who have ADHD are almost twice as likely to use alcohol as their non-ADHD peers (40 percent vs. 22 percent). The researchers of this study concluded that there is a “meaningful correlation” between ADHD and alcohol use in teenagers (5). Despite the research, there is no clear answer as to why this correlation between substance use and ADHD exists. Some, like Dr. Sarah Johnson, MD, who is a medical director at a substance abuse treatment center, theorize that it is because those with ADHD have issues regulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. ADHD-driven emotional factors such as boredom and restlessness also likely come into play. Substance abuse can be particularly challenging for adults with untreated or undiagnosed ADHD. Considering that only 20 percent of adults with ADHD are properly diagnosed and treated, and only 1 out of 4 of those will seek help for their ADHD, there is a relatively high risk for adults with ADHD to develop addiction problems.
Preventing Addiction for People with ADHD“One of the strongest predictors of substance use disorders in adulthood is the early use of substances, and children and teens with ADHD have an increased likelihood of using substances at an early age,” said Dr. Jeff Temple, licensed psychologist and director of behavioral health in the OB-GYN department at the University of Texas Medical Branch. To put it another way, the best treatment for addiction is prevention. For those with ADHD, this means receiving treatment for their ADHD as early on as possible. It means working with a professional team to figure out the best treatment plan: therapy, medication, behavioral interventions, or some combination of these treatments. Pairing treatment with certain lifestyle changes has been shown to be most effective in managing ADHD symptoms. These lifestyle changes include:
- Regular exercise
- Cutting down on sugar and caffeine
- Quality sleep
Treating ADHD & Addiction TogetherIf you have substance abuse problems as well as ADHD, the first step is to get sober. Treatment cannot start until you get sober, as addiction will only interfere with whatever treatment you attempt. Many addiction treatment centers, including Fort Behavioral Health, provide dual-diagnosis treatment responses for those with co-occurring conditions. Dual-diagnosis treatment can include:
- Rehabilitation (e.g., inpatient center)
- Support groups
Fort Behavioral Health in Fort Worth, Texas reaches out to the community with adult and adolescent addiction treatment programs. The dual-licensed addiction treatment center provides the programs, therapy, and treatment Texas residents deserve. Lasting recovery isn’t about Fort Behavioral Health, it’s about you. Our licensed experts help you rebuild your life and relationships. From medical detox staff to master level clinicians and nutrition specialists, your body and mind begin to heal once you reach out for help in Fort Worth, Texas. Contact us to learn more about Fort Behavioral Health addiction treatment and wellness programs.