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How is Addiction Related to Undiagnosed ADHD?

It may seem unrelated to struggle with addiction and undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, but the connection is more common than you may realize. According to a recent study, it’s estimated that more than 25 percent of adolescents with substance use problems fit the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Another survey found that nearly triple the rate of adults without ADHD struggled with substance abuse, with more than 15 percent of adults with ADHD having abused, or were dependent upon, alcohol or drugs during the previous year. 

In this brief article, our team with addiction treatment in Tampa at Phoenix House Florida, shares a few reasons for this connection and what to do if you are struggling with addiction and suspect you may have ADHD.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a developmental impairment of the brain’s executive functions, mainly presenting as having trouble with impulse-control, focusing, and organization. ADHD is characterized by the following symptoms: 

  • Inattention 
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor time management
  • Weak impulse control
  • Exaggerated emotions
  • Hyperfocus
  • Hyperactivity
  • Executive dysfunction

ADHD is often characterized as feeling like you are crawling out of your skin, or that you are easily distracted and bored. It’s important to note that ADHD is not a mental illness, but is a developmental impairment.

Why Does ADHD Lead to Substance Abuse?

ADHD leads to substance abuse for different reasons than those who abuse drugs or alcohol due to mental illness. In a study of young adults conducted by Harvard Medical School, only 30 percent said they used substances to get high, while 70 percent reported using substances to self-medicate for mood improvement, better sleep, or calming their thoughts. 

In other words, if you don’t know you have ADHD and are not properly medicated for the condition, you may turn to substances to quiet your mind and slow down your thoughts in order to feel a sense of rest. This can lead to substance abuse, which leads to many more problems.

How to Treat ADHD and Substance Abuse

Seeking help for substance abuse is important, whether or not you struggle with ADHD. However, it may be helpful to know that if you choose a rehab program and are diagnosed with ADHD you are not alone. Approximately 25% of adults that go to a treatment center for alcohol and substance abuse also live with ADHD. 

If you suspect that you have ADHD and are struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to find help from professionals who can help treat both your ADHD and addiction. Alcohol rehab in Tampa is available with Phoenix House Florida. Licensed therapists will help you address and unlock the causes behind your addictive behaviors, including ADHD, and will help you treat both conditions.  

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, speak with alcohol rehab in Tampa, Phoenix House Florida. To schedule a consultation with Phoenix House Florida, please request an appointment today.


Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Phoenix House Florida website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services provided by Phoenix House Florida or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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At Phoenix House Florida, we have a passion for healing. If you or your loved one are in need of subtance use treatment, we are here to help. Give us a call or submit our appointment request form today.

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The Derek Jeter Center

The Derek Jeter Center Adolescent program in Brandon, FL provides comprehensive outpatient services that help families deal with teen substance use and related mental health conditions.

At Your House

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Outpatient treatment must follow a continuum of care that starts with a thorough needs assessment and ends with recovery monitoring.

At Our House

For some patients, stepping away from the buzz of everyday life is the only way to make a full recovery. Inpatient treatments help patients refocus their recovery efforts to achieve positive, long-lasting outcomes.