Does Adult ADHD Lead to Alcoholism or Drug Use? 

Written by Fay Smith

ADHD is a common diagnosis for kids who struggle in school, but what happens when kids grow up and struggle in their offices, communities, and relationships?

Adults with ADHD have difficult challenges, and many turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.

In this article, we’ll look at how and why that is.

How Adults Cope with ADHD

ADHD presents many challenges for adults, but one of the biggest is regularly lacking dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is largely responsible for the pleasure that you feel when you accomplish something. A sense of accomplishment boosts you and makes it easier to take on your next tasks. For people with ADHD, this doesn’t happen the same way.

Adults with ADHD have a different reward system than neurotypical adults. A normal work routine, including meetings, might be somewhat boring for an office manager who is neurotypical, but it could send someone with ADHD into a spiral.

Without feeling like they are accomplishing anything important to them, and receiving the dopamine boost that goes along with that, it becomes increasingly hard to concentrate.

Having ADHD and needing to do things you don’t want to do and aren’t interested in can be extremely difficult, and even painful.

It’s a process of trying to force your brain to act in ways it doesn’t want to. The result is usually a drop in neurotransmitters and the onset of depression. Up to 53% of people with ADHD also struggle with depression.

There are legal substances that can provide a lot of help to adults with ADHD. Coffee can help to stimulate the brain to produce more neurotransmitters, and legal CBD can help to relax the nervous system and provide the restful sleep that adults with ADHD need to maintain good brain health. Know more about it here.

However, there are many adults with ADHD who turn to alcohol and drugs – not just to cope with the pain of having ADHD as an adult in a world designed for neurotypical people, but to help manage an unruly brain that won’t seem to follow directions.

Why do ADHD Adults Turn to Drugs and Alcohol?

It’s important to note that every adult with ADHD was once a child with ADHD, and it is typically in pre-adolescence or adolescence when substance abuse problems or tendencies first arise.

An 8-year longitudinal study found that at the age of 14.9, 40% of ADHD subjects and only 22% of control subjects had used alcohol (Barkley et al. 1990). This suggests that alcohol and other drugs are more appealing to people with ADHD in early adolescence.

A different study found that at age 25, alcohol use was roughly equal between ADHD adults and control groups, but we know that early and intense alcohol use is a risk factor for later alcohol and drug problems.

Growing up is when most people start to face increasing demands on their time and attention, which is also when young adults with ADHD begin to face significant struggles and shoulder the shame that comes from not being able to act or be like everyone else.

ADHD adults use drugs to cope, practically and emotionally.

In a practical sense, drugs and alcohol change the brain and produce the mental states that people with ADHD are looking for. When you are unable to feel happy or concentrate, a cup of coffee can help. So can other drugs. When you can’t seem to calm down or regulate your energy or emotions, alcohol can help. So can other drugs.

Neurotypical adults might be able to take a deep breath and restore calm and focus, but this just doesn’t happen for ADHD adults, who struggle to regulate themselves.

On an emotional level, it is easy to blame yourself for your problems as someone with ADHD. An inability to focus can be mistaken as a lack of interest or care. Disinterest in boring and unrewarding tasks can come across as laziness.

Adults with ADHD have to deal with a disabling inability to focus, as well as being blamed personally for that inability to focus.

In a culture that values constant productivity and readiness, adults with ADHD often struggle to regulate their attention and emotions and use drugs or alcohol as tools to cope.

Recovery for Adults with ADHD and Drug Problems

Although alcohol and other drugs might relieve temporary symptoms of ADHD, they invariably make life worse.

This is not just for all of the reasons that you’re familiar with – the cost, the health impacts, the social impacts, etc – but also because alcohol and most other drugs are harmful to the brain and end up making symptoms worse in the long run.

A healthy brain releases more neurotransmitters that help focus and attention. An unhealthy brain doesn’t regulate itself well. When you start messing with your brain’s reward system, it makes it even harder to set things right.

If you or someone you know is an adult with ADHD and a drug or alcohol problem, find a treatment solution that also addresses the impacts of ADHD. True recovery requires solutions to multiple problems.

 

 


Author Bio: Fay Smith

Fay Smith worked in communications for five years before settling down with her husband. She’s now a mother of two young children and takes care of three lovable Pomeranians. Fay Smith is a regular contributor on various health and wellness sites. She also works as a freelance writer and researcher on wellness topics, such as alternative treatments and CBD.

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Attention Deficit Consulting certificate program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

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ADHD can lead to disorganization and messiness in one’s life. Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Program

 

The article, “Can ADHD Cause You to Be Messy and Disorganized?” from Healthline looks closer at how ADHD can lead to messes and disorganization in life.  The article states,

 

“ADHD’s cognitive effects can cause you to have trouble finishing tasks, such as homework, or scheduling appointments. This can also include tasks relating to the organization of a physical space, like your room or office. For example, maybe you did the laundry but haven’t folded it, so it just sits on the ground all week. Or you might start several creative projects and leave their elements out and about, cluttering the room. You may also find yourself constantly misplacing items.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in ADHD Consulting.

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“Emotional impulsivity, then, describes sudden actions in direct response to an inability to regulate emotions. In children, this may largely be recognized as an inability to take turns when playing games or talking over others. While adults may also experience such symptoms, signs of emotional impulsivity can become even more problematic in daily life”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in ADHD Consulting.

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ADHD is commonly misdiagnosed. Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Specialist Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals

 

The article, “Why ADHD Misdiagnoses Can Be Common” By Stephanie Wright takes a closer look at ADHD and misdiagnosis.  She states,

“Sometimes, doctors don’t get an initial diagnosis right. Being your own health advocate can help ensure you get the correct diagnosis, critical to receiving effective care.  If you’ve been correctly diagnosed with ADHD, it’s going to be OK. Though stigma still exists, society has come a long way in awareness and acceptance of mental health conditions.  You don’t need to hide your symptoms. Your local health office is a safe space to seek help for your mental health condition — whether it’s ADHD or something different.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Specialist Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as an ADHD Consultant Specialist.

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Adult ADHD is usually undiagnosed as a kid. Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Program

 

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“Nguyen, now 25, said that she didn’t think that she had ADHD because she always earned decent grades growing up, and she thought ADHD was a learning disability. She went to another therapist for a second opinion, and when that therapist confirmed the diagnosis, she went to a psychiatrist who also confirmed her diagnosis. Watson said that ADHD is a unique and complicated diagnosis.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in ADHD Consulting.

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ADHD in adults can be harder to diagnosis. Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals

 

 

The article, “ADHD SYMPTOMS IN ADULTS: WHY DIAGNOSIS IS SO DIFFICULT” by James Brown and Alex Connor look at why adults have a more difficult time receiving a diagnosis.  They state,

“Understanding the condition in adults, taking it more seriously as a disorder, raising awareness of it, and investing in services to improve diagnosis times are key. Diagnosis opens the door to treatment, which can have a marked impact on living with the disorder — such as improving self-esteem, productivity, and quality of life.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in ADHD Consulting.

ADHD Consulting Program Blog on Adult ADHD

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It is important to identify if you have adult ADHD. Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Program

 

The article, “ADHD looks different in adults. Here are 4 signs to watch for” by Tamara May looks closer at signs of ADHD in adults and what one can do.  She states,

“Many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may not receive a diagnosis until adulthood. Adult symptoms can look a little different to those of childhood.  Knowing what to look for is important, so people can get support to help them better understand themselves and meet their full potential. People, including some clinicians, may not be aware of adult ADHD and how symptoms may change as a person develops and grows. We aim to change this through the development of an Australian ADHD guideline, which is based on evidence and now open for feedback.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as an ADHD Consultant.

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The article, “Could an ADHD Coach Help Your Family?” by Sara Lindberg looks at the role of an ADHD Coach.  She states,

“ADHD coaching is a relatively new idea. It’s important to be aware that there’s currently no formal regulation of the role, so technically, anyone can advertise themselves as an ADHD coach. At the same time, there are organizations that offer training and certifications. If you’re seeking a coach, it’s important to request their training and experience in order to know what qualifications they actually possess.”

To review the entire article, please click here

AIHCP also offers certification to professionals seeking a certification as an ADHD Consultant.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in ADHD Consulting.  ADHD coaches do not necessarily have to possess a counseling license, but AIHCP ensures that individuals who do possess the certification have some type of professional and academic status.

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ADHD can be found in both boys and girls. Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Certification

 

The article, “Do ADHD Symptoms Differ in Boys and Girls?” by Heather Jones takes a closer look at some differences.  She states,

 

“In general, boys with ADHD are more likely to have symptoms and behaviors that are more disruptive and, therefore, more noticeable. Not only does this have a “squeaky wheel” effect, but it reinforces the stereotype of a child with ADHD being a boy who “acts up” in class and is constantly on the go. Because girls with ADHD are usually less disruptive, it may not be as obvious that they are struggling. Daydreaming is not going to raise flags that are difficult to miss or ignore like frequent interrupting or the inability to stay seated.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s ADHD Consulting Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in ADHD Consulting.

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“Despite all its complexities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neuropsychological condition characterized by disorganization, procrastination, time impairment, impulsive decision-making, “wandering attention,” and problems with self-management, might be best described in three words: pain, power, and paradoxes.”

To read the entire article, please click here

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