Researchers have identified a connection between ADHD and addiction, wherein having ADHD predisposes one to develop a substance use disorder, especially if their ADHD is undiagnosed or untreated. But while this connection is undeniable, the causes behind it are more complex. Keep reading to learn about the link between ADHD and addiction, and what you can do if you’re living with ADHD and a substance abuse problem.
The Connection Between ADHD and Addiction
ADHD—a common neurodevelopmental disorder—usually presents in childhood and may continue into adulthood. People living with ADHD typically have difficulty paying attention, sitting still, or controlling impulsive behaviors. These and other symptoms can cause people with ADHD to lean on alcohol or drugs as a way to cope.
Other symptoms of ADHD include:
- Difficulty finishing tasks
- Inability to focus on or listen to others
- Trouble with organizational skills
- Inability to control impulses
- Often losing or misplacing things
Sadly, people are more likely to suffer from ADHD and addiction when they’ve gone undiagnosed, since they may lack healthy coping skills. In fact, it doctors estimate that individuals living with ADHD are two to three times more likely to develop an addiction than those without the disorder.
While no one knows the exact causes of ADHD and addiction, research shows a link between the disorders and dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical your brain releases that helps with focus and attention. In addition, dopamine affects your emotions and makes you feel good. After accomplishing something, the brain releases dopamine, which creates a natural “high.”
Scientists have shown that people diagnosed with ADHD have different levels of dopamine than those without. Individuals with untreated ADHD have a higher concentration of proteins called dopamine transporters. A person with ADHD may have abnormal levels of dopamine and dopamine transporters, which whisks away dopamine from brain cells before the chemical has had a chance to perform its task properly.
An unusual amount of dopamine and dopamine transporters can contribute to the addictive, thrill-seeking behavior patterns those with ADHD have. Because dopamine is what makes you happy and triggers your reward system, your brain naturally craves it. Those with a dopamine disorder have to try harder to feel happy because their brain is not functioning as it should. Having too much dopamine is connected to having poor impulse control and being more aggressive, which can explain the connection between ADHD and addiction.
If your doctor believes you have a problem with your dopamine or dopamine transporters, they might prescribe certain medications such as stimulants to help control your levels and enhance focus. Stimulants increase the amount of dopamine in your brain while targeting dopamine transporters. This is why people receiving treatment are less likely to experience both ADHD and addiction.
Treating ADHD and Addiction
The Woods at Parkside offers a number of different care choices for adults dealing with ADHD and addiction. Our facility can help you successfully overcome your ADHD and substance use disorder by using a combination of therapy and detox.
Drug and Alcohol Detox
Sustained drug and alcohol usage causes your body to build up a tolerance to those substances. This can lead to you needing more of the substance to feel the same euphoric effects you felt initially. Detoxification is the process your body undergoes when you cut out harmful substances. This purification process typically leads to withdrawal, which can cause you to experience severe symptoms.
Common withdrawal symptoms in people living with ADHD and addiction include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Delirium tremens
- Heart problems
- Mental health symptoms, such as depression or anxiety
Because these symptoms tend to worsen over time, many people struggling with ADHD and addiction find detoxing from drugs or alcohol to be extremely difficult in an at-home environment. And, unfortunately, many at-home detoxes fail due to the physical and mental agony withdrawal induces. That’s why we suggest you consider a residential detox facility where you can stay long term.
At The Woods at Parkside, there are a number of different approaches to treating ADHD and addiction. One of these ways is through our residential detoxification program, which is overseen by experienced physicians.
Here, you will receive medical supervision during detox. With this 24/7 care, we will monitor your vitals and make sure that you’re healthy and comfortable at all stages of the detoxification process. This not only makes detoxing more pleasant, but it also drastically reduces your risk of relapse.
Following our detox program, if you are living with a co-occurring disorder, you might be interested in learning more about our dual diagnosis treatment option.
Dual diagnosis is when you are experiencing a substance use disorder combined with a mental health disorder. If you have a co-occurring disorder, it’s crucial that you get proper treatment—treatment that focuses on both your substance abuse and mental health troubles. With our detoxification program, you can get help from our qualified medical and clinical staff who work together to properly diagnose any underlying mental health issues that might keep you from having a successful recovery.
Some examples of commonly co-occurring disorders include drug or addiction with:
- Mood disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
Our dual diagnosis treatment process can help if you are experiencing ADHD and addiction to certain stimulant medications. Medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are often prescribed to children and adults with ADHD. However, it is important to understand that these medications can become addictive if used improperly, and they should only be used after consulting with your medical doctor and securing a prescription.
Both Adderall and Ritalin are classified as Schedule II controlled substances, which means that there’s a possibility of dependency. But the risk of addiction is reduced with long-acting forms since they were created to release the medicine slowly.
Finding ADHD and Addiction Treatment in Ohio
By using a combination of medicine and therapy, The Woods at Parkside can help you learn new thinking patterns and healthy coping behaviors. Inside our healing walls, you will gain strength by being surrounded by a caring support system.
For more information about how we treat ADHD and addiction, contact us online or give us a call at 419-452-4818 . At The Woods at Parkside, your days of pain and suffering from mental illness and substance abuse will be a thing of the past.