Exploring the Strong Link Between ADHD and Addiction


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can last from a third to half of a lifetime. According to some studies, children with ADHD are more likely than the general population to develop alcohol and substance abuse problems as they grow older.

Many people with ADHD have addictive tendencies, such as dependence on food, drugs, or the Internet. According to a center specializing in addiction treatment in Clarksville, to break cravings, one must understand how to spot the signs of addiction early on, distinguish between the many types of addiction, and determine whether there is a link between ADHD and addiction.

 Is drug and alcohol abuse more common in ADHD patients? 

Several research investigations have found a significant link between ADHD and drug and alcohol addiction. A percent of those in treatment for alcohol and drug abuse have ADHD. Adult drinkers are five to ten times more likely to have ADHD than non-alcoholics.

Children with ADHD are more susceptible than others to misuse alcohol during their adolescence. According to one research, 14% of youngsters aged 15-17 had ADHD and acquired addiction as adults. This was greater than the proportion of ADHD peers. Another study found that 40% of ADHD children began drinking alcohol at 14.9, compared to 22% of non-ADHD children.

This is a clear symptom of adult alcoholism. Young individuals (mean age 25) were, on the other hand, equally prone to drink alcohol regardless of their ADHD diagnosis. Those with ADHD, on the other hand, were more inclined to drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

Researchers have uncovered links between ADHD and marijuana and other recreational drug use, particularly in people with other mental conditions (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder). Furthermore, people with ADHD are more prone than others to acquire drug and alcohol problems at an earlier age.

 Addictive Behavior and ADHD 

ADHD and addiction share DNA, according to research. According to a study, persons with ADHD are more impulsive and prone to behavioral difficulties, which can contribute to drug and alcohol addiction.

 Is it possible to become addicted to ADHD stimulant drugs? 

Parents commonly wonder if stimulant medications used to treat ADHD are addictive. Stimulant medicines raise dopamine levels, a chemical messenger in the brain that aids concentration and attention, which are sometimes difficult for persons with ADHD to master.

When used in significant dosages, Ritalin can have comparable effects to cocaine, commonly recommended for ADHD. Researchers identified substantial discrepancies between these medicines. Dopamine levels have an essential role in drug addiction and misuse. Dopamine levels that rise quickly are more likely to be abused. According to one study, Ritalin takes about an hour to raise dopamine levels in the brain. In comparison, ingested cocaine takes only seconds.

Higher dosages of Ritalin and other stimulants are more helpful than shorter-acting stimulants in treating ADHD. Addiction is less likely as a result of this. Tolerance is a phenomenon in which stimulants are used at greater than required doses to get the same effects as controlled drugs. If and when ADHD begins, a doctor may recommend non-stimulant medicines.

 Do ADHD stimulants cause substance abuse problems? 

Parents are worried that their children might experiment with other narcotics if they receive stimulants for ADHD. Although there have been many studies that looked into the relationship between ADHD medication and substance use disorders, no evidence has been found.

 Treatment for ADHD and Addiction 

Not every example directly links ADHD and drug or alcohol addiction. Atomoxetine, clonidine, and guanfacine are examples of non-stimulant medications. Adults with ADHD may benefit from antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), desipramine, and norpramine.

It is unclear if Ritalin or other stimulants are effective therapy for ADHD individuals who also have drug addiction issues. They may be helpful when administered in regulated doses and long-acting forms. Individual or group treatment, as well as 12-step support groups, may be beneficial to those with ADHD. This reduces the likelihood of getting reliant on or abusing these substances.

 What Should I Do If I Self-Medicate for ADHD? 

Self-medicate with prescribed or illegal medications, coffee, exercise, or alcohol.

Marijuana, alcohol, and other substances, such as ADHD meds, can raise dopamine levels. That is why certain people are drawn to them.


Heavy drinking and impulsive behavior, expected in ADHD, correlate significantly. You may be self-medicating if you consume more than 14 drinks per week as a man or more than seven drinks per week as a woman.

 Illegal Drugs 

Some people believe that marijuana might help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. However, a study has found little evidence to support this. Because cannabis can impair focus, behavioral inhibition, attention, and organization, more states are legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational purposes.


Caffeine may improve attention, but it may not be as helpful as ADHD medication, according to studies. Furthermore, drinking too much coffee may affect your memory. A couple of cups of coffee daily may help you think more clearly if you’re a healthy adult.


While you may feel that smoking would help you relax, studies show that it will instead make you hyper and make controlling your ADHD symptoms more difficult.

 Key Takeaway 

ADHD and addiction appear to be closely linked. While experts disagree on its exact reason, there are some explanations. These include genetics, certain personality traits, and medicines to self-treat ADHD symptoms. If you or someone you care about has problems, seek help as soon as possible. The earlier you do, the better.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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