The Link Between ADHD & Drug Addiction: What We Know

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In recent years, the dots are continuing to be connected between attention deficit disorder and drug addiction, during a period where recognizing and diagnosing ADHD is also becoming more sophisticated and more prominent within society.

Long has there been a problem with misdiagnosis and failing to recognize those with the condition, causing trauma in itself from those who are suffering from it. Alongside this, the rise of addiction in recent years, particularly alcohol and drugs, in which more people are entering drug rehab center than ever before, has been particularly concerning.

While the state of our surroundings have been huge contributing factors for that, with stress and anxiety rising amidst the likes of the pandemic, cost of living crisis and many other crisis’s we see on the news daily, there is also growing evidence of a relationship between ADHD and the likelihood of suffering from addiction.

Impulsivity at the core

One of the main factors that contribute to the link between ADHD and drug addiction is impulsivity. Individuals with ADHD tend to have difficulties inhibiting their impulses, which can lead to risky behaviors such as substance abuse. In fact, research has shown that individuals with ADHD who have problems with impulse control are at a higher risk of developing substance abuse disorders. Additionally, individuals with ADHD often have difficulties regulating their emotions, which can lead to self-medication with drugs and alcohol.

Multiple conditions & reduced dopamine levels

Another factor that contributes to the link between ADHD and drug addiction is the high prevalence of comorbidities. Many individuals with ADHD also struggle with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder. These comorbidities can increase the risk of substance abuse and addiction, as individuals may use drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms.

Alongside this, individuals with ADHD tend to have lower levels of dopamine in their brains, which can lead to a reduced ability to experience pleasure and reward. This reduced ability to experience pleasure can increase the risk of drug addiction, as individuals may use drugs to compensate for the lack of pleasure they experience in everyday activities.

Products of their environment

Environmental factors such as peer pressure, access to drugs, and stressful life events are also more likely to contribute to the link between ADHD and drug addiction. Those that do suffer with ADHD are more likely to be more susceptible to peer pressure and may have more difficulty resisting the temptation to use drugs. Additionally, individuals with ADHD who experience stressful life events such as divorce or job loss may be more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

More care and attention needed to combat the relationship

The link between ADHD and drug addiction is complex and multifaceted, with both biological and environmental factors playing a role. However, studies have proven that they can follow in each others footsteps, and more care, attention and treatment is needed for those who are struggling to combat this risk.

The likes of stress management and coping mechanisms play a big part in this, just as they do when people are going through the rehab process, in order to instill clear and calm thinking, and avoid people turning to substances in a bid to treat issues.

Further research will no doubt continue over the coming years in order to understand the relationship further, but there’s no doubt of the heightened risk those with ADHD face when it comes to addiction.

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