Addiction and ADD/ADHD

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ADD/ADHD Relationship to Addiction

ADD/ADHD, a hyperactivity disorder, prevents sufferers from maintaining focus when performing tasks such as schoolwork, reading or listening. ADD/ADHD is a treatable disorder that can be managed with medication and therapy. Unfortunately, undiagnosed individuals often self-medicate with addictive substances such as alcohol, marijuana, heroin, prescription tranquilizers, pain medication, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, cocaine and street amphetamines in attempts to calm their overactive brains and bodies.

Certain stimulant medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall, have proven to be effective in treating ADD/ADHD. To alleviate their symptoms, an alternative method for ADD/ADHD individuals is to use food, as eating can temporarily calm ADD/ADHD's physical and mental restlessness. As the individual's brain is not quick to contain impulses, he or she may compulsively eat without thinking. For some, overeating becomes a compulsion, meaning they cannot stop using food to alter their feelings other than satisfy hunger. Compulsive overeaters tend to crave foods high in carbohydrates, sugars, and salt.

By using substances or food to improve their abilities, help them feel better, or decrease and numb their feelings, individuals with ADD/ADHD are doing what is called self-medicating. The problem with self-medicating is that although it feels comforting at first, it will bring on a host of addiction related problems. What starts out as a "solution" can cause major problems, including: addiction, impulsive crimes, domestic violence, increased high risk behaviors, lost jobs, failed relationships, families, and death. Too many people with untreated ADD/ADHD, or learning and perceptual disabilities, are incarcerated and misunderstood when suffering from a co-occurring addiction. When noticing someone with ADD/ADHD, it’s important to keep an eye out for possible signs of substance abuse, addictions and eating disorders; and vice-versa.

ADD/ADHD often times Lead to Substance Abuse

Once a person has ADD/ADHD and begins to self medicate using food, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, prescription medications, or other drugs, they may feel like their symptoms decrease. The person may feel calm, happy, and may be able to sleep better. Once binge eating does not work anymore or the drugs wear off, the ADD/ADHD symptoms return, sometimes even worse than before. The individual who abuses substances will continue to use, and eventually build up a tolerance, meaning they will require more of the drug to get the same effect. Eventually the person suffering from ADD/ADHD will develop an addiction.

Who Will Become Addicted?

Anyone is vulnerable to abusing mind-altering substances to reduce unwanted symptoms of ADD/ADHD. There are a variety of reasons why one person becomes addicted and another does not. No single cause for addictions exist; rather, a combination of factors such as genetic predisposition, neurochemistry, family history, trauma, life stress, and other physical and emotional problems may contribute. People may have genetic predispositions for alcoholism, but if they choose not to drink they will not become an alcoholic. The same is true for drug addictions. The bottom line is that people with ADD/ADHD as a whole, are more likely to medicate themselves with substances and develop an eating disorder than those who do not have ADD/ ADHD.

Treating both the Addiction and ADD/ADHD

Florida Center for Recovery therapeutic treatments services will help clients with:

  • A professional evaluation for ADD/ADHD and co-occurring addiction
  • Education on how ADD/ADHD impacts their lives, and the lives of their loved ones
  • Building social, organization, communication, and work or school skills
  • ADD/ADHD coaching and support groups
  • Closely monitored medication when medication is indicated

Co-Occurring Disease: ADD/ADHD and Addiction

Florida Center for Recovery specializes in treating substance addiction as well as behavioral and process addictions such as: compulsive gambling, eating disorders, self-harm, shopping and sex addiction. Our comprehensive Addiction Treatment Programs include the treatment of co-occurring disorders in addition to treatment of individuals diagnosed with PTSD, ADD/ADHD, Mood Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Anxiety. Therapeutic treatment includes: specialized addiction treatment for expectant mothers, relapse prevention program, family therapy, trauma therapy, art therapy, detox massage, yoga and aftercare programs which are all designed to address each client’s specific needs.

For more information on our addiction treatment programs and therapeutic approaches, call toll free at: 800-960-5041. Florida Center for Recovery offers residential and outpatient drug and alcohol rehab treatment through 12-Step and Non 12-Step Programs.

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