ADHD: increased risk for addiction

The article below describes the heightened risk for substance use disorders among people with ADHD.

“Kids and adolescents with the condition are 2.5 times more likely to develop substance use disorders (SUD) than their peers, according to research in the journal Pediatrics. And Harvard researchers have found that over half of all adults with untreated ADD/ADHD will abuse drugs or alcohol during their lifetime.”

Not only people with ADHD struggle with impulse control challenges, they also find that some substances, like nicotine, tend to reduce their ADHD symptoms while rising their dopamine levels, which tends to be low in people with ADHD.

“Dopamine is a feel-good chemical. Whenever we do something enjoyable, it’s like pressing a button in the brain to release a little bit of dopamine to make us feel pleasure. In some people, low levels of dopamine mean they need more and more of a substance to feel that joy. Alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine all cause dopamine surges that make these substances highly desirable.”

The article describes natural ways to support your prefrontal cortex and increase your dopamine:

  • Exercise: Getting your heart pumping increases blood flow and dopamine in the brain.
  • Have Have a clear focus: Write out your goals on a sheet of paper and look at them every day to set your intentions.
  • Enlist outside supervision: Have someone you trust check in with you on a regular basis to help you stay focused on your goals.
  • Practice saying no: To minimize the likelihood that you will impulsively say yes to offers of alcohol or drugs, make it a habit to say no.
  • Feed your brain: What you eat can pump up your focus and energy or cause them to plummet. Starting the day with simple carbohydrates—think muffins, cereal, and doughnuts—will increase inattentiveness and impulsivity during the day. Be sure to include small amounts of protein with each meal to enhance brain function.”

I offer ADHD counseling to support clients in the career-related issues, financial management challenges, and relationship support. I also integrate Brainspotting therapy to heal emotional hurts, as well as Brainspotting for addiction, as needed, in my practice. Schedule your free consultation now.