Although most people will occasionally experience some of these symptoms, ADHD is diagnosed when they become severe enough to interfere with at least two aspects of daily life and cause ongoing problems.
WHAT CAUSES ADHD?
Experts aren’t sure exactly what causes ADHD, but a lot of evidence suggests that it is a genetic disorder. If a parent has ADHD, there is more than a 50 percent chance that their child will also have it. Other factors, such as low birth weight, tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy and pesticide exposure have also been associated with higher rates of ADHD.
ADHD is thought to be closely linked to dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood, attention, motivation and more. In children and adults with the disorder, dopamine is removed too quickly from the brain, which prevents it from exerting its full effects. Other important chemicals, such as norepinephrine and serotonin may also play a role. Due to this, those with ADHD are also more likely to have other mental health concerns, such as mood, behavioral and substance use disorders.
HOW ARE ADHD AND ADDICTION RELATED?
One way that ADHD is related to addiction has to do with how the condition is commonly treated. ADHD is often treated with stimulant medication such as Adderall and Ritalin. When used as directed, these medications help residents concentrate, focus on work or school and find balance in their lives. Unfortunately, prescription stimulants are often abused and diverted, a common concern among teens, young adults and college students. These drugs produce effects similar to methamphetamine when misused, appealing to those who want to stay awake longer to study or party. Combined with the pressure that many feel to perform well at work or school and otherwise succeed in our fast-paced society, these drugs come with a high risk for addiction and abuse.
When ADHD medications are properly used, however, they can help residents manage their symptoms and lead healthy, productive lives. Studies show that those who do not receive treatment for their ADHD are at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder than their peers, with an earlier onset and longer recovery period. Poor judgment, boredom, impulsive behavior, self-medication and other factors may play a role, as well as a decreased ability to handle stress and daily responsibilities. For individuals struggling with both ADHD and substance use, effective treatment that addresses both simultaneously is necessary for long-term recovery. At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we provide integrated care for co-occurring disorders, helping residents with ADHD and other mental health concerns manage their symptoms so they can focus on healing. Clients will learn how to recognize triggers, develop healthy coping skills, reduce impulsive behavior and establish the skills they need to maintain lasting recovery.