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ADHD and Addiction

People sitting in a circle, discussing ADHD and addiction issues

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that affects children, teens, and adults. It can occur in various circumstances and usually be managed with proper ADHD treatment. Unfortunately, ADHD and substance addiction or abuse often co-occur. If this happens to you or someone you love, dual diagnosis treatment is necessary to diagnose and treat both conditions accurately. Call 888.296.8976 to speak with someone from Northpoint Recovery about what to do when ADHD and alcohol or drug addiction co-occur.

Understanding ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a chronic brain condition. It’s characterized by a continual pattern of inattention with or without symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. This pattern interferes with routine and daily functioning. It can also have a profound effect on human development. To explain ADHD a bit more thoroughly, it can help to understand what the various components of the condition mean and how they work together:

  • Inattention happens when someone wanders off task and has problems staying focused. Sometimes this is misunderstood as defiance or difficulties with comprehension. Disorganization is a critical factor in this component.
  • Hyperactivity refers to how people with ADHD move around frequently or almost constantly. This happens even in situations when doing so is not appropriate. Hyperactivity can also refer to fidgeting, tapping, or constant talking. For adults, hyperactivity can be displayed as restlessness or tiring others out because of continual movements.
  • Impulsivity refers to making quick decisions in the moment without giving them a second thought, regardless of the long-term consequences. These decisions may be dangerous. Also, impulsivity can lead someone to have difficulty waiting for delayed gratification. The social ramifications of impulsivity are genuine, and interrupting others is a common factor.

In the past, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and ADHD were seen as separate conditions, but now they’re both understood as various subtypes of the same disorder. It should be noted that although all people with ADHD have difficulty with inattention, not all may also exhibit hyperactivity or impulsivity.

ADHD and Addiction in Adults and Teens

What are the connections between ADHD and addiction in adults and teens? About a quarter of the adults who seek addiction treatment also report having ADHD. In addition, teens who develop ADHD as children have increased chances of using drugs or alcohol. As a result, they also have increased addiction risks.
What explains these connections? Drugs and alcohol provide a way for people living with ADHD to cope. They may recognize that this coping only lasts for a brief period. However, the relief they experience far outweighs any potential dangers of continuing to use. Of course, in reality, that’s not the case.

There is also evidence that suggests that dopamine levels in the brain are much lower for someone who has ADHD. Drugs and alcohol tend to increase dopamine levels. That alone can make them an attractive alternative to the effects of untreated ADHD symptoms. Fortunately, today we have much better methods of treating conditions like ADHD. That’s true even when they co-occur with addictions to drugs or alcohol.

Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and ADHD Treatment

Dual diagnosis care is the modern standard for combined ADHD and addiction treatment. This approach addresses all of your symptoms in a coordinated manner. Medication often plays a central role in controlling the symptoms of ADHD. Several types of therapy have also been shown to be effective in teenagers, including:

CBT and family therapy also provide benefits for adults. In addition, adults may benefit from marriage counseling. Therapy also plays a prominent role in the treatment of addiction. Fortunately, the same forms of therapy used in ADHD treatment can support your addiction recovery. In addition, medication can help you recover from some of the most common substance problems.

Find Dual Diagnosis Treatment for ADHD and Addiction in Idaho at Northpoint Recovery

Do you or your loved one need ADHD and addiction treatment? Northpoint Recovery specializes in dual diagnosis treatment for combined mental health issues—including ADHD and alcohol or drug addiction. Contact Northpoint Recovery today at 888.296.8976 to learn more.