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ADHD and Addiction

Living with ADHD is stressful. If the condition is paired with substance use disorder, life often becomes even more challenging. Unfortunately, a dual diagnosis of ADHD and addiction often goes untreated even though it’s not uncommon for both disorders to occur together.
If you have ADHD and addiction, treatment for one disorder may not be effective if it doesn’t address the dual diagnosis. That’s why it’s so important to work with experienced professionals to get an accurate diagnosis and seek out a dual diagnosis treatment center.

How Often Do ADHD and Addiction Occur Together?

It’s not easy to provide conclusive statistics regarding a dual diagnosis of ADHD and addiction because both conditions often go undiagnosed or untreated. However, evidence suggests that about 25% of people in treatment for substance use disorder have a dual diagnosis of ADHD. In addition, ADHD is up to 10 times more prevalent in people who struggle with alcoholism than it is among those without this substance use disorder.

ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in children than adults. Young people with ADHD are also more likely than children without ADHD to experiment with and abuse substances. This happens at an earlier age in the ADHD group and increases the risk of developing a substance use disorder.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD are impulsivity and impaired decision-making abilities. These characteristics can increase the chances that someone will use drugs in the first place. Because judgment is often affected in people with ADHD, they might make rash decisions when it comes to using drugs or alcohol.

ADHD and Addiction: Self-medicating

ADHD and addiction are typically linked in two primary ways. Unmanaged ADHD causes uncomfortable symptoms that interfere with an individual’s daily life. To feel and function better, someone with untreated ADHD may use substances to deal with their symptoms. But most drugs don’t improve the symptoms of ADHD. Someone with ADHD may experience extreme pressure at work due to difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and trouble following up on tasks. They may drink heavily to take the edge off after a long day of dealing with performance issues, insecurity, and anxiety. However, drinking doesn’t do anything to help their concerns. In fact, it can make things worse. Many prescription medications and recreational drugs affect cognition, memory, and processing. Over time, substance use can make symptoms of ADHD worse. In some cases, withdrawing from drugs can also exacerbate ADHD symptoms, exacerbating the cycle of ADHD and addiction.

Prescription Medications for ADHD and Addiction

There are some prescription medications that relieve ADHD symptoms and help people manage their condition. These can be very effective. But most people who take ADHD medication regularly develop a tolerance. This means that the dose they’re used to taking diminishes in effectiveness.

At this point, they may increase their dosage to achieve the same effects. This process can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. Taking ADHD medication recreationally can also lead to substance use disorder. Furthermore, if the medication stops working and you don’t have support for your ADHD on any other level, you may use drugs to self-medicate.

It’s important to follow a holistic treatment plan that may include medication in addition to other approaches. Working closely with a mental health professional can help you manage your medication properly so that it doesn’t become a problem.

The Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment for These Disorders

If you treat an addiction without managing your dual diagnosis of ADHD, your struggle to deal with the co-occurring disorder can lead you through a cycle of chronic relapse. A dual diagnosis treatment center helps you manage both disorders so that you can break the cycle and live a fulfilling life.

The best treatment center for clients with a dual diagnosis of ADHD and substance use disorder helps individuals:

Need help with drug relapse?

Burning Tree Ranch has been helping the chronic relapser find lasting sobriety since 1999

Get Support for ADHD and Addiction at Burning Tree Ranch

Burning Tree Ranch is a dual diagnosis treatment center with experience treating clients with ADHD and addiction. We treat every client as an individual and develop a care plan for the whole person.

This means that we will work toward managing their ADHD, addiction and many other factors that affect their ability to live a fulfilling life in recovery. When you understand your unique nature and design, you can find the right treatment approaches to help you flourish.



LMSW, LCDC | Counselor
Kristina Robertson serves as Counselor at Burning Tree Ranch. Holding both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Social Work, Kristina’s greatest joy is “watching our clients learn to love themselves again.” An avid equestrian, mother to twenty-one horses, and all-around animal lover, Kristina serves as a bright shining example of long-term recovery in action. Her commitment to whole person health: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual makes her an invaluable member of the Burning Tree Ranch clinical team. As a distinguished Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Zeta member, Kristina believes deeply in each client’s pursuit of becoming their best selves.

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