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Substance abuse and ADHD may go hand in hand, say researchers
Posted in Dual diagnosis

Millions of people around the world suffer from a particular brain abnormality characterized by ongoing pattern of inability to pay attention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that impedes their functioning or development. Though it is common to lose focus or pay less attention or behave with sudden impulsivity, such symptoms are rather severe in ADHD patients. The problem can prolong, maybe lifelong in many cases, as the available treatment options can help alleviate but not completely cure the condition.

Though ADHD may not continue till adulthood in many cases, researchers maintain that children suffering from the problem are more likely to battle alcohol and substance abuse problems when compared to those in the general population. The potential link between ADHD and substance abuse stems from the findings of various research indicating a strong association between the mental health problem and the tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol. Studies carried out previously have highlighted the problem of ADHD being five to 10 times more prevalent among alcoholic adults as compared with those without the disorder.

ADHD and substance abuse

Studies following up children with ADHD till they reached adolescence have revealed roughly 14 percent of teens, aged 15 to 17, diagnosed with the problem being more likely to be alcohol dependents by the time they became adults. Some studies found how 40 percent of ADHD-affected children began abusing alcohol by the time they reached an average age of 14.9 years. Links between ADHD-affected children and their proclivity to use marijuana have also been discussed in some of these studies. The inclination to abuse weed also compels them to start abusing substances at an early age compared to those with no signs of the disease.

Though it is still unclear as to why ADHD patients have a greater disposition to abuse drugs or alcohol, researchers attribute it to impulsive behavior owing to the influence of ADHD. In addition, some researchers have also emphasized on the commonality of the genes shared between ADHD and alcoholism.

Children diagnosed with ADHD problems are often recommended stimulant drugs like Ritalin and Adderall to lower their symptoms. These medications treat patients by raising their dopamine level, which has made some experts to question the use of stimulants leading to addiction trigger later. The medicines’ ability to raise energy levels and focus have often led many people to refer to it as the “poor man’s cocaine.” Growing concerns that children treated with stimulants may start experimenting with other kinds of drugs have raised questions on the correctness of this mode of treatment of ADHD kids.

Comorbidity of ADHD, substance use disorder

A study titled “Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health” indicates that an estimated 7.9 million American adults suffer from certain co-occurring disorders. The study authors stressed how common it is for people suffering from mental disorders to struggle with alcohol or substance use disorders.

In most cases, ADHD remains undetected. It is important for physicians to determine whether their ADHD patients if are misusing any substance. Similarly, substance abuse disorder patients must be asked about potential ADHD or any other mental problem. If so, addressing both the problems simultaneously becomes very important. Only a proper screening can help divert such patients to the dual diagnosis rehab centers they need for long-term recovery from both the disorders.

Sovereign Health, which operates one of the leading dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas, offers evidence-based treatment to people afflicted with the duality of addiction and mental health problem. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know more about our residential treatment centers in Texas.

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