ADHD and Substance Abuse: Exploring the Link

With attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) frequently lasting into adulthood, there are some studies suggesting a greater likelihood of children with ADHD developing alcohol and substance abuse problems as they age, compared to the general population.

The fact that ADHD appears with five to 10 times greater frequency among adult alcoholics than those without the condition is a matter of concern for parents of ADHD children and those with an interest in substance abuse intervention in Florida. Around 25 percent of adults receiving treatment for alcohol and substance abuse have ADHD.

Children with the condition are also more likely to begin abusing alcohol than those without, once they reach their teenage years. One study suggested that among ADHD children aged 15 to 17, 14 percent went on to have adulthood problems with alcohol abuse or dependence. Another study showed that while 22 percent of children at a mean age of 14.9 years old without an ADHD diagnosis had began to use alcohol, this rose to 40 percent of children with ADHD.

When the mean age in that study was raised to 25, young adults did not differ in their likelihood of using alcohol irrespective of an ADHD diagnosis, but excessive use of alcohol was a greater probability among those with ADHD. Links between ADHD and marijuana and other recreational drug use have also been uncovered MaleEdge by researchers, especially where other psychological disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, are present.

Drug and alcohol problems are also typically encountered from an earlier age by those with ADHD than those without. Possible reasons for the higher likelihood of those with ADHD abusing drugs or alcohol include a greater prevalence of impulsiveness and behavior problems, which researchers claim can both contribute to drug and alcohol abuse. There’s also a tendency for ADHD and alcoholism to run in families, common genes between the two being highlighted by researchers.

As a parent investigating substance abuse intervention in Florida, you may be concerned about how addictive stimulant drugs taken by your children for the treatment of ADHD – like Ritalin – can be. It’s true that according to studies, the abuse of Ritalin can lead to dependence. However, it is not a risk for addiction in either children or adults when taken as prescribed.

It is true that large doses of Ritalin – largely than is typically prescribed for ADHD – can produce effects not dissimilar to cocaine. However, there are also significant differences between the drugs. Inhaled cocaine, for example, raises a person’s dopamine levels within seconds, thereby creating greater potential for addiction, compared to almost an hour in the case of Ritalin. Combined with the lower doses typically prescribed for treating ADHD, this means that Ritalin poses a somewhat lower risk for addiction.

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