Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed behavioral issues among young people in the United States today. Characterized by a general inability to accomplish tasks in most situations, this disorder can be frustrating for the patient and his or her family alike.
In addition to the day-to-day issues that arise due to the disorder, many ADHD patients also struggle with substance abuse. When these two issues co-occur, it can make connecting with treatment that much more difficult.
Signs of ADHD
There are different types of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and each one manifests with different symptoms in each person. Additionally, each person will experience the different types and symptoms to various extremes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the three subtypes of ADHD include:
- Predominantly inattentive. The person often experiences six or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty focusing on a specific task or activity
- Difficulty paying attention even when spoken to directly
- A hard time following instructions and, as a result, often doesn’t finish homework or keep up with responsibilities at home or school
- Difficulty organizing activities
- An aversion to performing tasks that require long-term mental effort
- Misplaces items necessary to perform certain tasks
- Easily distracted
- Forgets activities that are required daily
- Predominantly hyperactive or impulsive. The person often experiences six or more of the following symptoms:
- Taps feet, fidgets or squirms
- Gets up from seat during times when he should remain seated
- Talks excessively
- Interrupts others or can’t wait his turn
- Unable to do anything quietly
- Jumps into conversations or answers questions before the question has been completed
- Runs around or climbs on things when he should be still
- Constantly active, rarely at rest
- Both hyperactive and inattentive. The person experiences six or more of the inattentive symptoms as well as six or more of the hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. This is the most commonly diagnosed type of ADHD.
ADHD and Addiction
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people who are diagnosed with ADHD to also struggle with addiction. In fact, one large study showed that incidences of substance abuse and addiction are higher in people who are diagnosed with ADHD.
There may be two reasons for this. One is the attempt to self-medicate symptoms. People who struggle with ADHD often feel as if they don’t fit in very well, and as a result, they may seek to ease social anxiety and other uncomfortable feelings by drinking or using drugs.
Others may abuse their medications. Stimulant drugs like Adderall and Vyvanse are commonly prescribed to treat AHDH and help people to focus on the task before them. Unfortunately, for those who are inaccurately diagnosed and those who don’t need the medication, it can provide a stimulant high that is extremely addictive.
Some people who are prescribed the medication abuse the drugs by taking them with other substances, including alcohol. Others sell their pills to those who would abuse them. Still others find that they no longer need the drugs to help them focus but achieve a high when taking them and so continue their prescription for the purpose of abusing the pills. In some cases, others in the household may abuse the stimulant medications prescribed to another family member for the purposes of ADHD.
No matter how or why it comes about, if addiction becomes an issue for someone living with ADHD, comprehensive treatment can help them learn how to manage both problems and become drug-free. Contact us at the phone number listed above to learn how.
Further Reading About Signs of Attention Deficit Disorder
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton