Recent studies from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse are indicating that a link between learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder or dyslexia and substance abuse may exist. The study suggests that children and adolescents with learning disabilities might be more likely to develop unhealthy habits such as drinking, using drugs, and smoking. Young adults with learning disabilities and drug abuse habits are not uncommon due to many contributing factors.
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Individuals who suffer from ADHD are at a higher risk of becoming chemically dependent for a number of reasons according to new studies. People with ADHD are likely to have behavior issues and that can account for a reason drug and alcohol abuse is more common. From the scientific perspective brain scans of those who suffer from addiction show reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex and similarly those with ADHD also show reduced activity in their prefrontal cortex.
The prefrontal cortex is mainly responsible for rational thinking. It has not been proven whether addiction patients previously had reduced activity or if patients reduced activity from ADHD caused addiction. Due to the fact that symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity, impulsive decision making, and difficulty paying attention its more likely those with ADHD will start experimenting with drugs and alcohol at an earlier age.
Impulsive people are more likely to try alcohol or drugs because they do not weigh the consequences. There is also the idea that using drugs such as Marijuana or drinking alcohol calms individuals with ADHD, therefore those suffering may try using the substances as a means of coping with their disability. Some individuals who suffer from substance abuse and ADHD reported that they used drugs and alcohol because it made them forget about difficulties they were having in either school, work, or at home. Some individuals ADHD goes undiagnosed throughout their childhood and turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with feeling different or abnormal. When diagnosed patients can learn how to manage their ADHD and may be less likely to use drugs and alcohol for coping. In children who are diagnosed with ADHD, substance abuse can be prevented with education and disability management. Since the risk factors for substance abuse are many of the side effects children with ADHD face, helping children avoid those feelings can prevent substance abuse issues.
- Low self-esteem
- Academic difficulty
- Desire for social acceptance
- 14% of children with ADHD had substance abuse difficulties as adults
- 40% of children with ADHD begin using alcohol at the age of 15 compared to the 22% that do not have ADHD
- 10.8 million children in the U.S. are affected by learning disabilities
Behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy, building self-esteem and helping children to understand their disability can improve their self-acceptance. We also know now that more adults with ADD suffer from addiction than those who do not have ADD, adults can seek counseling, 12 step programs, and exercise regularly. Addiction treatment that offers dual-diagnosis has been proven successful in helping patients who suffer from mental disability and addiction. For children of Alcoholics who suffer from ADHD, there is also a risk of addiction or chemical abuse in the future. Practicing prevention tips and helping them to find counseling can all prevent future addictive behaviors.
Untreated ADHD Can Cause Addiction Relapse
If you know someone who suffers from addiction and has suffered relapse or hasn’t even attempted to get treatment they may suffer from ADHD. If you notice they are often restless or have trouble concentrating, have difficulty with connecting emotionally, and don’t really think about their actions they may suffer from ADHD. As mentioned before Dual Diagnosis programs can detect mental illness and disabilities so finding a treatment program that offers this treatment could help prevent future relapse.
If you or someone you love suffers from addictive tendencies, substance use and abuse, as well as ADHD the following can help:
- Find a professional who specializes in ADHD treatment
- Stay involved with addiction treatment, Dual-diagnosis
- Find communities to be involved with even if it is AA meetings, or an exercise group
- ADHD support groups, reading about ADHD and others who have similar experiences
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.