ADHD and Addiction: Dealing with Both to Improve Outcomes

When it comes to mental health and addiction, there’s a huge overlap of diagnoses and many who suffer from one often suffer from the other. And it’s no different with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

It’s estimated that nearly 25 percent of adults who seek drug and alcohol addiction treatment also have ADHD, which complicates treatment for both disorders. If you’re in need of a dual diagnosis addiction treatment center to help you overcome ADHD and addiction, call 800-654-0987 today to find help.

ADHD and Addiction: Similar Symptoms

One of the things that make the correlation between ADHD and addiction so strong is that they share similar symptoms. And the common symptoms of ADHD are often those that develop once addiction becomes present.

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ADHD and Addiction

Difficulty handling stress is common for those with ADHD and addiction.

These include the following:

  • Distraction
  • Impulsivity
  • Difficulty handling stress
  • Difficulty staying on task

A Higher Risk

While many with addiction have ADHD, those with an attention deficit disorder are also more at risk of becoming addicted. Even without a history of drug or alcohol abuse, adults diagnosed with ADHD are two to three times more at risk of becoming addicted then those of the general population.

Dopamine’s Role

While the mental health/addiction connection is often seen as a chicken verses egg conundrum, with ADHD and addiction, many believe it’s about the brain’s dopamine levels. For those with an ADHD diagnosis, the natural levels of dopamine present in the brain are low. Yet drug use increases dopamine and keeps more dopamine present in the brain longer. This had lead some research to suggest that many end up self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to help counteract the symptoms of ADHD.

Self Medication

The drive to self medicate with ADHD reaches beyond just dopamine levels. Many say they reached for drugs and alcohol as a way to improve their mood and help them sleep better. While drugs or alcohol may help depress the symptoms of ADHD at the beginning of use, they soon complicate the disease, making symptoms stronger and more frequent.

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Seek Dual Treatment

Because of the overlapping effects of ADHD and addiction, it can be difficult to treat one without the other. When this does occur, the side effects of one get worse as the other gets better. Instead, dual treatment should be sought. When both ADHD and addiction treatment occur simultaneously, the diseases are better managed and the individual has an improved focus on recovery.

Non-Stimulant Medication

One of the issues with treating both addiction and ADHD is that the most common medication prescribed for ADHD is a highly addictive stimulant. Medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are easy to abuse and therefore not recommended as an effective treatment option for anyone with a history of addiction or drug abuse.

Yet there are other options. Non-stimulant medications are available and gaining in popularity for those with ADHD. When those don’t work as well as expected, low dose medications in extended release form may be prescribed and highly monitored.

If you believe you have ADHD and addiction, don’t wait to seek treatment. Call 800-654-0987 today to speak to an addiction specialist who can help you find the right addiction rehab center.

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