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ADHD and Addiction

There is a lot of links to having ADHD and addictions. Not to say you can have an addiction and not have ADHD. 

Among adults being treated for alcohol and substance abuse, the rate of ADHD is about 25%. But this is for the people that have been diagnosed with ADHD, and ADHD in adult's is a relatively new term in fact there are a lot of countries that don't recognize it, so the statistics could be a lot higher which at 25% is already alarming.  

I have adult ADHD and its classed as a chronic disorder, alot of people are not aware of how severe it actually is.  

There are several reasons why ADHD is a large contributing factor to having addictions.  

  1. A damaged dopamine receptor which is the primary effect most drug give you, including cigarettes. A person with ADHD can exhibit all the factors of an addict simply because they are trying to self-medicate and feel normal. I know I spent 5 years in Narcotics anonymous and I could replace the term addict in there literature with ADHD for me. . I am not saying anything bad about NA it is an amazing program and has helped millions. Just in my case been totally abstinent from all mind-altering drugs did more damage than good. When I was to find the medication, I needed would help increase my dopamine levels I found myself not having addictive cravings for anything.  
  2. Impulse control. People with ADHD like addict's lack impulse control. In this case my experience of it was that I would have the thought of getting the drug and it was followed by the action of getting it without thought of consequences, like affordability, was it a good idea, you have work tomorrow etc.

3, Diminished sensitivity to reward 

This next part I copied from a medical  findings on near identical links to the neurobiology of ADHD  and addiction. 

Contemporary neural models of ADHD impulsivity are strikingly similar to the neurobiology of addiction. 

This aversive state in turn provides motivation to engage in impulsive reward seeking, novelty-seeking behaviors that will activate the neurons in the mesolimbic DA system. Thus ADHD adolescents who are prone to risky substance use “may seek the more extreme reward of drugs because their experience of conventional rewards is blunted” [21]. However, since these behaviors do not address the underlying DA deficiency, they produce only temporary improvements in mood and thus larger and more frequent rewards are sought. 

3, Isolation,  

After years of living with undiagnosed ADHD and people becoming more and more intolerant of, the out busts, antisocial behaviors, constant interupting conversations and ranting, failures and lack of tolerance. A person with ADHD can end up isolating from the word and using drugs to cover shameful feelings of not good enough, don't fit in, why try I will always get rejected ect.  

4, All Addictions have a primary disorder behind them. 

Weather its gambling, sex addiction, drugs addiction, or any addiction (that you psychologically and physically lack  inability to stop consuming). A person with ADHD is 10 times more likely to have a dependence on common illicit drugs than non ADHDer. Medication used to treat ADHD is nearly chemically identical to common illicit drugs, except its not made with dangerous chemicals, and  is monitored so you get the right balance. Also sex addiction or been hypersexual is very common for people with ADHD once again trying to get the dopamine they lack. 

There are many more contributors for having ADHD and addiction, but i will leave a few links here for those interested in the topic so not to rant on as its on of my defects Smiley Happy 




Re: ADHD and Addiction

Thanks for sharing @kram, that's really insightful and it sounds like it really resonates with your experience. How are you finding your ADHD now? Does your addiction symptoms lessen when on medication? 

Re: ADHD and Addiction

Thanks for sharing @kram, that's really insightful and it sounds like it really resonates with your experience. How are you finding your ADHD now? Does your addiction symptoms lessen when on medication? 

Re: ADHD and Addiction

Thank you for sharing this. I have a high suspicion that I too have ADHD, innattentive type from what I have read. I am yet to work out a way to really approach assessment.

My own Father has ADHD and two out of three of my children are also fully diagnosed. It never really crossed my mind until by kids were diagnosed and I spoke to my Dad about it. Seems it is difficult to diagnose an adult female though!

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