Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a neurobehavioral and developmental disorder in which individuals express pronounced characteristics, such as inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity. A person with ADHD will often be unable to focus or to remain still and focus his or her thoughts on complex problems or decisions. Also, people who have ADHD will be highly prone to distraction; they may talk a great deal without listening to what other people are saying, they may interrupt others frequently, and they may also frequently engage in highly risky behaviors without fully contemplating the consequences of their actions.

People who have ADHD frequently have a high susceptibility towards and incidence of substance abuse. This is because individuals who have not sought professional help to treat this disorder must find other ways to manage their symptoms, which can be very difficult to live with and interfere with almost every aspect of their lives. As a result, many turn to drugs and alcohol. However, since substances use will not treat or improve their underlying mental health condition, these problems will continue to develop and become more severe with substance use. Now, in addition to their mental health symptoms, individuals will have to deal with the symptoms of their substance use disorder as well as face the genuine risk of dependency and addiction.

Signs of ADHD

While ADHD typically begins in the childhood or teenage years, the disorder does not merely affect the young. ADHD and its symptoms frequently extend into adulthood. ADHD has three primary classes of behaviors which include:

Inattention

People with ADHD may exhibit persistent inattention in the following ways:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequently lose things
  • Easily distracted
  • Struggle to stay focused on tasks
  • Difficulty completing tasks in order
  • Inability to complete everyday tasks
  • Fail to complete tasks after they start
  • Disorganized
  • Poor at time management
  • Poor listening skills

Hyperactivity

Sings of hyperactivity in people with ADHD include:

  • Restlessness
  • Must continually keep moving
  • Constant, purposeless actions, such as wandering or pacing
  • Uncontrollable fidgeting
  • Constant talkativeness

Impulsivity

Individuals who have ADHD also exhibit impulsivity in many ways, including:

  • Inability to consider the results of their actions
  • Taking unacceptable risks
  • Interjecting themselves into social situations
  • Constantly interrupting others
  • Ignoring social cues

ADHD is also categorized into three main sub-types based on the above symptoms. They are:

  • Predominantly inattentive
  • Predominantly hyperactive or impulsive
  • Combined, which exhibits both of the above tendencies

These characteristics must be persistent and long-standing to constitute an ADHD diagnosis, significantly impair an individual’s ability to function or fulfill their responsibilities or stymie their normal, age-appropriate development.

Since all of these symptoms can interfere with a person’s relationships and responsibilities, substance use often presents itself as a way for people with ADHD to manage these symptoms in place of professional help. However, substance use does not treat the disorder but only adds new symptoms — including the possibility of a substance use disorder — to the problems they already face.

Treating ADHD and Substance Abuse

People who have ADHD use substances such as drugs and alcohol primarily as a method to treat their symptoms. Initially, using drugs or alcohol may help those with ADHD sleep better, slow down and work more productively. However, drugs and alcohol are not medications which are effective in treating ADHD. Inevitably, as these individuals use more of their substances of choice, they will exacerbate their ADHD symptoms while adding new symptoms resultant from their substance use. For example, while alcohol is a depressant which slows down many bodily functions, it also can impair the judgment, making it more difficult for someone who struggles with ADHD to control their impulsivity. Further, in addition to inviting new symptoms, they will also face the real possibility of dependency and addiction.

Studies show the prevalence and dangers of substance use for those with ADHD. For example, according to research published in the journal Health, up to 25 percent of those with a substance abuse disorder may have ADHD. Also, research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has found that over 30 percent of those diagnosed with ADHD may develop a substance use disorder. Further, research published in Medscape indicates that up to 70 percent of adult alcoholics may have a history of ADHD. These facts illustrate the necessity of professional mental health and addiction treatment for individuals who have either condition or a combination of these conditions and wish to achieve long-term recovery.

Bayview Recovery’s Individualized Approach to ADHD and Addiction Treatment

Leaving mental health or substance use disorders untreated can have detrimental effects on you, your family and loved ones and on your professional responsibilities. Dependency and addiction bring on problems of their own which can be insurmountable without professional addiction treatment and which can also aggravate existing mental health problems. Treating an addiction alone can be ineffective since untreated mental health issues will likely incite a relapse. A failed attempt at recovery also increases your chances of long-term medical problems, overdose and even death. Substance abuse and co-occurring ADHD require professional help from addiction specialists who also have experience with mental health modalities.

Bayview Recovery can assist your recovery in many ways. First, we can work with your medical provider to ensure you have a successful detox. Second, we can tailor a course of psychological treatment for your mental health issues to help you manage your ADHD. Third, we can provide individualized therapy and comprehensive rehab to help you avoid future problems with drugs and alcohol. We can also determine which medications, if any, may help you manage on-going symptoms.

Call Bayview Recovery today at 888.570.7154 and speak to one of our addiction treatment specialists about getting the help you need to overcome ADHD and a co-occurring substance use disorder. You will find all the treatment options you’ll need to restore your health and stay free of drugs and alcohol at Bayview Recovery.