ADHD is a tricky disorder. Most people are familiar with the generic symptoms of ADHD, which include trouble focusing, impulsive actions and hyperactivity. But ADHD can manifest in other ways too.
Sometimes, it can be paralyzing; an overwhelmed state can quickly progress to what looks like depression or lack of motivation. ADHD can also make it difficult to regulate your emotions. Mood swings can make ADHD resemble other psychological disorders. ADHD can even cause sleep problems and anxiety.
Unfortunately, all of these symptoms can also make it hard to get and stay sober. Moreover, complications with the medical management of ADHD may interfere with your recovery.
Managing your ADHD can help you sustain your addiction recovery. But doing so can be hard, especially if you’re accustomed to using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. Dealing with your ADHD will feel different when you’re sober.
Burning Tree Ranch is the Nation’s only dual diagnosis treatment center designed exclusively for the chronic relapser.
Here Are 6 Tips to Manage ADHD in Recovery so That It Doesn’t Derail Your Success
1. Discuss Alternative Medications with Your Provider
Many people find stimulants to be effective in treating ADHD. However, if you have a substance abuse disorder, using these types of medications to manage your mental health condition can be problematic. Although stimulants don’t increase the risk of developing a substance abuse disorder, they can be misused. It may be difficult for someone in addiction recovery to use stimulant medications in a healthy way.
Therefore, it’s important to talk to your care provider about the need for medication. Non-stimulant or time-release stimulant medications can be helpful. So can antidepressants.
You can also work with your care provider and loved ones to develop a plan for regulating your medication, such as having a family member store and dose your pills.
2. Pursue Healthy Things That Make You Feel Good
Although experts aren’t sure of the exact causes of ADHD, some researchers have looked into its links with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of pleasure, motivation, excitement, and enjoyment. Some studies have found that people with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine than others. Therefore, they may need more of an excitatory “boost” to feel normal. Substance abuse further alters your brain chemistry. Then, detoxing and going through long-term residential treatment, shifts the neurotransmitter ecosystem once again. The natural interplay of dopamine in your body, which can eventually help you feel more focused, motivated and satisfied, needs time to regain balance. Therefore, it’s no wonder that your ADHD symptoms seem out of whack during recovery.
You can rebuild your dopamine pathways by pursuing healthy, enjoyable activities in recovery. Not only will these provide opportunities for distraction, socialization and fulfillment, but they will help reestablish a healthy motivation and reward process in your central nervous system.
3. Have Goals
It seems like everybody everywhere talks about the importance of goal setting. But there’s a reason that this advice is so pervasive. Setting goals improves direction, enhances motivation and boosts focus.
But the idea of goal setting might make someone with ADHD cringe. Therefore, it’s important to use this advice in a way that works for you. You’ll work with a mental health professional to set goals for your recovery. If goal setting feels like an obstacle, express that to your therapist so that you can operate at your own pace and make this process meaningful.
Goals can also help you stay on track if you have ADHD in recovery. They offer milestones and reminders that help you move forward even in difficult times.
4. Set Aside Time for Yourself
You have likely neglected yourself during active addiction. ADHD can also make it difficult to remember to take care of your basic needs sometimes. Therefore, it’s especially important for someone with ADHD to create time for self-care in recovery.
This might require you to include nourishing activities in your goals or schedule them in your planner. Perhaps you’d benefit from setting reminders on your phone to drink water or grab a snack. Take a walk on your lunch breaks, or set the alarm five minutes earlier to take a few deep breaths before you start your day.
Talk to your therapist or counselor about the routines and activities that support you in your daily life. Discuss ways to make sure that you’re engaging in them.
5. Use Your Support Network
The people in your trusted support network probably know some of the challenges that you face with ADHD in recovery. Encouraging them to participate in family therapy will give them more insight into your needs in recovery. Make a written or mental list of the people who have offered to help you, and ask them for help when you need it.
These loved ones want to be supportive, but they may not know how. Therefore, they may need some guidance from you. And you may need help with certain tasks or challenges during your recovery.
Stay in touch with your support network so that you can seek out an ear to listen, help with household chores, or a companion at a support group meeting. Give back to the people who have helped and are helping you too. Offering your support solidifies connections that can help you with ADHD in recovery for the long term.
6. Treat Your Dual Diagnosis in One Place
If you have a dual diagnosis of ADHD and addiction, a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs will help you manage your ADHD symptoms during recovery. At Burning Tree Ranch, we offer treatment for both conditions together so that you don’t have to worry about assembling the perfect program for your recovery. We will work together to tailor treatment to the challenges that you face with your dual diagnosis. Our aim is to give individuals the resources and tools that they need to manage their ADHD throughout addiction recovery.
We specialize in helping people with ADHD and other co-occurring disorders navigate their sobriety. A dual diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t have to send you into a chronic relapse cycle. Contact us to find out how to get the help that lasts.