Whether undiagnosed or not, those dealing with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can find it difficult to find a way to cope with the symptoms properly. This especially happens for those who are not on medication for their ADHD and can result in self-medication or drug abuse by using substances such as marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine.
ADHD is considered a mental health disorder that can be diagnosed as childhood ADHD or adult ADHD. Some kids and teens with ADHD can be diagnosed at an early age, while some people, including young adults, won’t be diagnosed until full-on adulthood. Depending on ADHD symptoms, some can be harder to diagnose than others.
People with ADHD are more likely than others to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives since there is an increased risk of substance abuse. Some believe that using substances will help subdue some of the side effects of having ADHD, so it’s their way to cope with their unwanted symptoms. So what exactly links ADHD to addictive behaviors? Read on to learn more!
Overview of Addiction
A person struggling with addictive behaviors is no longer consciously choosing to give in to their addiction. They are past the point where it’s a choice and instead rely on the substance to function. Addiction is a complex disease that alters your brain and makes it difficult to quit, regardless of the negative consequences it brings to your life.
Those dealing with addiction often struggle with mental illness, are dealing with personal and familial stressors, or have undergone intense trauma in their life that has led to using substances. Addiction can also be related to addictive behaviors such as gambling or betting. Regardless of what it is you are addicted to, the effects of substance abuse can be detrimental to both your health and your relationships.
What Is ADHD?
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a very common mental disorder that affects people’s focus, activity levels, and impulsivity. It’s often diagnosed as one of three kinds of ADHD: inattentive type, hyperactive or impulsive type, or a combination of the two types.
Some of the symptoms of ADHD that are considered inattentive include trouble paying attention, difficulty listening, can’t stay focused during school or work, having a difficult time organizing tasks, and being very forgetful or losing things frequently. Hyperactive or impulsive ADHD is diagnosed when a person has difficulty staying still, talks a lot, often interrupting others and finishing their sentences, and fidgets frequently. These types of ADHD can be extremely difficult to cope with, especially when they go undiagnosed.
There is no direct test you can take to know if you have ADHD; it takes filling out checklists, letters from teachers and close friends, medical evaluations, and blood work to complete a diagnosis. For many, obtaining a diagnosis requires a lot of time and money, making it inaccessible to everyone. If people can’t get medication or proper therapy treatment to help with their symptoms, turning to substances that are easier to get a hold of is the next step.
What’s the Link to Addictive Behaviors?
People struggling with ADHD have an influx of impulsivity and activity which can lead to boredom, restlessness, and anxiety. People with ADHD have problems regulating dopamine and norepinephrine, so it’s possible that turning to substances is a result of that. Seeking out substances as a way to self-medicate and subdue some of the symptoms is typical, especially for those who have undiagnosed ADHD.
When you mix self-medicating with boredom, this is where addiction can become an issue. For those with ADHD, finding themselves to be bored can be highly anxiety-inducing, and using substances is one way to calm the nerves and become distracted. Over time, a person’s body will not function without the substance, and the addiction will become an issue.
ADHD and substance use disorder tend to run in families, so if there are others in your family with either of the disorders, you are more likely to develop one of the two in your lifetime.
On top of genetics, the medication prescribed for many people with ADHD is thought to have an additive effect on people because it is a stimulant. If you take ADHD medication as it is prescribed, you should have no problems developing an addiction. It becomes a problem when you are taking more prescribed medication, if you are using these drugs and do not have ADHD, or are taking them in ways that don’t involve orally swallowing them. People have been known to abuse the commonly prescribed ADHD medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin.
If you are someone who needs to be treated for ADHD, know that taking these medications as they are prescribed can only help you. Don’t be afraid of talking with your doctor about what it would take to get prescribed medication!
How To Avoid Developing Addiction
The main thing to understand about developing an addiction is that it happens once you no longer control what your body thinks it needs to survive. If you have been prescribed medication for ADHD, the best thing to do is take it correctly. This will allow for the effects of the medication to successfully work for you without feeling the urge and need for substances. Some examples of prescriptions for ADHD include amphetamine, atomoxetine, methylphenidate, among many others.
Making sure that you communicate with your doctor and loved ones about how you are doing helps hold yourself accountable. Going to regular check-ups with your doctor can help to keep you on track.
The most clearcut way to avoid developing substance abuse as someone with ADHD is to access treatment as early as possible. If you are receiving proper care for your ADHD, you’re less likely to develop substance abuse because you will be less likely to experiment with substances at a young age. Making sure that someone can adequately medicate can help to steer clear of self-medicating later on in life.
Get Help With Soba Recovery
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we at Soba Recovery Center want to help you. We understand that there are layers to recovery, and making sure that your physical, mental, and emotional health are in a good place makes all the difference in your path to recovery. Whether you want to help treat ADHD or stop alcohol abuse, we can help with it all. By seeking help, you can also prevent later substance abuse.
While there are other treatment options and resources out there, include stimulant medications, interventions, stimulant treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and counseling; Soba Recovery Centers has everything you need when it comes to your recovery journey.
Soba Recovery Centers offer several treatment services, like detoxification, inpatient, sober living, and group therapy sessions. We have two locations in the United States, one in Mesa, Arizona, and the other in San Antonio, Texas. Both are equally qualified in treating your addiction and helping you recover.
To become sober, you need to make sure that you are dealing with your individual needs. For those with multiple disorders combined, like ADHD and addiction, you cannot work on one without working on the other. Whether with intense group therapy, medication, or inpatient services, we want to make sure that you find what works best for you.
Reach out to one of our representatives to see how we can help you through these times. Your addiction is not the end of your life. You deserve a second chance, and we want to give you that!