Impulsivity, ADHD and Substance Use Disorders

Today, ADHD and ADD are becoming prevalent diagnoses for children. Through research, one can find concrete correlations between attention deficit disorders and alcohol/ substance use disorders, especially when it comes to adults and adolescents. Studies have found that there those who are diagnosed with ADHD are at six times greater risk for developing alcohol or drug abuse. It has also been suggested that there is a fifty percent increase in being diagnosed with ADHD if you have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder as an adult or adolescent. Nicotine has one of the highest co-morbidity rates with ADHD. Those abusing methamphetamines are proven to increase their chances of later being diagnosed with the co-morbidity of ADHD and a substance use disorder. This may be due to a decrease in dopamine in the brain for those who have been diagnosed with ADHD, as stimulants increase dopamine. Difficulties in the social and mental health realms caused by the two diagnoses combined tend to be more severe than if only one of the conditions were present.

There is a bio-behavioral risk factor that plays into both of these disorders. Empirical data suggests that girls have a higher risk of having both disorders together. Some personality traits are seen in both disorders, including impulsive behaviors, reward seeking, nervousness, and negative affect. A desire for instant gratification is also seen in individuals with substance use disorders and ADHD.

What are Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders?

6.4 million children throughout the nation have been diagnosed with ADHD, with 70% of ADHD cases found to be due to heredity reasons. Most of the time, this disorder is diagnosed during childhood. Often, ADHD does not follow an individual into their adult life. In fact, 75% of the time, the symptoms of this disorder disappear after childhood, at least in regards to the symptom of hyperactivity.


Symptoms of ADHD/ADD include:

  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Blurting out statements and interrupting others
  • Difficulty sitting still or staying in a seat
  • Trouble focusing
  • Restlessness or fidgeting
  • Described as “being driven by a motor”
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Making thoughtless errors or missing specifics
  • Dazing out and appearing to not be listening when spoken to
  • Quickly demonstrating an uninterest in activities
  • Not following through on directives
  • Evading tasks that require mental attention and focus
  • Trouble waiting one’s turn
  • Constantly talking
  • Playing extremely loudly.

It’s important to rule out other diagnoses, such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and learning disabilities, as these disorders can possess similar traits.

Where to Turn for Help with Your Substance Use Disorder

If you or a loved one has been utilizing stimulants, cannabis, opioids, alcohol, or other illicit substances in order to silence ADHD symptoms, contact the Discovery Place in Burns, Tennessee today at 1-800-725-0922. We offer an affordable, non-profit treatment alternative that will aid you in achieving freedom from illicit substances and alcohol. Our trained professionals are here to help you twenty-four hours a day. Many individuals have found success at the Discovery Place.

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