How ADHD Influences Addiction and Substance Abuse

When we think of disorders that are often associated with addiction, we typically think of mental health challenges like bipolar disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But there are other mental health issues that afflict many of us—including our family, friends, and co-workers—that can also influence addictive behaviors.

One such disorder is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which affects an estimated 4 percent of American adults. People with ADHD often struggle with attention and focused-related tasks, as well as impulse and behavior control.

Many adults with ADHD use medication to help manage these symptoms while others devise coping strategies to help them navigate personal and professional responsibilities. In some cases, though, adults with ADHD may remain undiagnosed and struggle with the effects of the disorder in their daily lives.

Because ADHD can influence decision making and impulse control, research studies have found a connection between the disorder and substance abuse.

Adults with ADHD are more likely to engage in substance abuse, suffer from addiction longer, and are more likely to relapse than those without the disorder, according to research.

Researchers believe that one leading cause of substance abuse among ADHD sufferers is self-medication, when people use addictive substances as a way to cope with the challenges that come with the disorder.

In other cases, ADHD can lead to reduced impulse control, making it harder to self-regulate drinking or drug use.

Luckily, there is evidence that a well-managed medication regimen and ongoing support in the form of treatment and therapy can lessen the risk of addiction among people with ADHD.

In fact, research studies have found that young people who took medication for ADHD were 3 to 4 times less likely to suffer from substance abuse and addiction than young people who did not use medication to manage their ADHD symptoms.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and you believe it may be worsened by ADHD, Midwest Recovery can help. Our trained clinicians are attuned to the risks of addiction and ADHD and understand the complexities that come with juggling the disorder and substance abuse at the same time.

In fact, our therapist Tom Scott is leading a professional development class focused on addiction and ADHD on February 9 in Kansas City, where he’ll explore the role that ADHD plays in addiction.

For professionals in the mental health and addiction recovery field, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the interplay of ADHD and addiction while earning six contact hours from the Missouri Substance Abuse Professionals Credentialing Board.

For more details and registration information, please visit: http://firstcallkc.org/professionaldevelopment

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