March 15, 2018 Felicia Durling

ADHD and Addiction

ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is one of the most widely diagnosed disorders in the world. High percentages of people checking into treatment for addiction to drugs and alcohol suffer from ADHD. Unfortunately, many of them have gone untreated in their lives, leaving them to manage on their own.

ADHD and Addiction

Addiction and ADHD are common because of how ADHD affects the brain. ADHD is a disorder of hyperactivity. Many self-medicate or experiment with depressant drugs like alcohol and marijuana in an effort to soothe the relenting stream of consciousness and noise. Substances not only help quiet the mind, they help alleviate feelings of social insecurity. Impulsivity is also a symptom of ADHD, predisposing people to make rash decisions.

ADHD is also genetic. Behaviorally and biologically, people diagnosed with ADHD are at higher risks for addiction if they go untreated or unmanaged. That doesn’t mean that ADHD and substance abuse are unmanageable. Working with a psychiatrist, therapist, and treatment provider can help create a series of contracts, plans, and tools for dual-diagnosis.


By the Numbers: ADHD and Addiction Statistics

  • Children with early diagnosis of ADHD may have a higher risk of developing addiction and/or alcoholism later in life. They are more likely than other children to start abusing drugs and alcohol in their teenage years, and develop dependency on substances as adults.
  • By age 15, 40% of children with ADHD will start using alcohol compared to 22% of children that age without a diagnosis.
  • People with ADHD start having difficulty in relationships with drugs and alcohol at earlier ages than people without ADHD.
  • Among adult alcoholics, ADHD is five to ten times more common.
  • People who are treated for ADHD are 50% less likely to develop substance abuse problems than those who go untreated.
  • 20-30% of ADHD adults will abuse substances in their lifetime


The Center For Life Change works to help recovering addicts understand their complete diagnosis so that healing and treatment can be accurate and complete. It’s our commitment to include a therapeutic components to a patient’s co-occuring disorder so proper recovery can be achieved.  Call our helpline at 951 775-4000 today.

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