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Rehab for ADHD & Alcohol Addiction

Many who struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD) may also struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders, like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD generally begins in early childhood; even when a person receives a diagnosis in adulthood, they have likely struggled with the condition for most of their life. Undiagnosed ADHD increases a person’s risk for developing AUD, other forms of substance misuse, and can even lead to the development of other co-occurring mental health disorders.3 Recognizing the warning signs of ADHD, understanding how it can interact with AUD, and understanding dual diagnosis treatment can lead to better recovery outcomes.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a complex mental condition, which may involve genetics, family history, and environmental triggers.1, 2 Typically, one-third to one-half of people who receive childhood diagnoses of ADHD still need to manage the condition when they are in adulthood; however, with appropriate therapy and medication, adults with ADHD can lead normal, healthy lives. ADHD can cause patterns of high energy, inattention, and impulsive behaviors.2

  • Inattention: This is characterized as wandering off task, lack of persistence, disorganization, and trouble sustaining focus. Children may struggle in school while adults may suffer from low self-esteem, relationship problems, and constant work changes or problems.
  • Hyperactivity: This is a high level of physical energy that manifests as moving around constantly, even when it is inappropriate. In children, this may show up as tapping, excessive talking, or fidgeting. Adults may be restless, performing constant physical activity.
  • Impulsivity: This involves making hasty decisions, including risky experiences; there is a desire for immediate reward and an inability to delay gratification. Children may be unable to stop talking, may interrupt their peers, or may succumb easily to pressure from their peers. Adults with ADHD manifest similar behaviors and do not consider the long-term consequences.

The combination of early diagnosis (as early as 4 years old, but typically around 6-7 years old), appropriate prescription medication like Adderall or Vyvanse, and ongoing behavioral therapy helps children reduce their risk of abusing substances. While impulsive behaviors may put them at a higher risk compared to the average population, receiving education about this potential problem, along with medicines that treat impulsivity, has been found to reduce the risk of substance abuse. When people with diagnosed ADHD properly took medication, substance abuse risk was reduced 35 percent in men and 31 percent in women, according to a survey of 3 million individuals published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

Signs that an adult may struggle with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD include:

  • Poor time management.
  • Excessive restlessness or activity.
  • Poor planning ability.
  • Low tolerance for frustration.
  • Frequent mood swings.
  • Quick temper.
  • Difficulty with other sources of stress.

Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to manage these struggles is common in people with mental conditions, including ADHD.

Dual Diagnosis for Co-Occurring AUD and ADHD

Treating AUD in a person with ADHD may include prescribing stimulant medications or some of the non-stimulant medicines that have been approved. Medically supervised detox is needed to reduce the risks of alcohol withdrawal, and it is also important because stimulant prescriptions do not mix with alcohol. Therapy in a rehabilitation program that specializes in co-occurring disorders will help individuals learn to manage their disorder.

Other therapeutic approaches, focusing on ADHD symptoms, include:

  • Keeping routines
  • Making lists to stay on task
  • Using a calendar to keep schedules organized
  • Using reminder notes in a specific organized pattern
  • Finding specific places for bills, keys, important paperwork, and more
  • Breaking large tasks into smaller steps to complete individual pieces in a timely manner

Finding Dual Diagnosis Treatment for AUD and ADHD

If you or a loved one is struggling with ADHD and addiction, it’s important to know that help is available. If you’re ready to seek professional, dual diagnosis treatment, there are steps you can take. One would be to reach out to your doctor. They may be able to help determine your medical needs and possibly refer you to a suitable addiction treatment center. You may also benefit from visiting the SAMHSA treatment locator, which can help you find treatment nearby.

Addiction helplines can also help connect you with ADHD and addiction treatment. Addiction helplines, like the one owned and operated by American Addiction Centers (AAC) provide 24/7 support for those seeking resources and information about addiction. Our compassionate staff can help answer questions about the rehab process, verify your insurance, and help you find suitable treatment centers. Don’t wait to start your journey to recovery; call us today at .