Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) And Addiction
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, abbreviated ADHD, is a mental health condition present in millions of children and adolescents that often continues into adulthood. The symptoms of ADHD differ in type and severity based on the individual. However, because many of the symptoms are related to inability to concentrate for extended periods of time, individuals with ADHD must often deal with peripheral mental and social challenges including poor academic performance and difficulty in interpersonal relationships.
ADHD cannot be cured, but regular treatment with medication and behavioral therapy can help effectively manage the symptoms. Most children diagnosed with ADHD grow up to be healthy, fully functional adults.
Signs And Symptoms
ADHD is characterized by two primary categories of symptoms: hyperactive-impulsive symptoms and inattention symptoms. Although periods of hyperactivity and inattention are normal in all children, should such periods increase in frequency and severity, interfering with the child's school life and home life, it may be a sign of ADHD.
Some signs of inattention include:
- Difficulty paying attention during play or to specific tasks
- No signs of listening when being directly addressed
- Poor organizational skills
- Susceptibility to distraction
- Forgetfulness or habitual inability to recall where items have been left
Some signs of hyperactivity and impulsive include:
- Frequent fidgeting
- Difficulty playing or sitting quietly
- Excessive talking
- Constantly feeling restless
- Inability to wait for his/her turn
Causes And Risk Factors
There is no single cause of ADHD although several factors may influence the condition's development. Some risk factors for ADHD include:
- Having a family history of behavioral or mood disorders
- Maternal exposure to toxins, alcohol, or drugs
- Low birth weight
- Having a co-occurring learning disability
- Suffering from anxiety or depression
Children will not be diagnosed with ADHD unless the symptoms are severe and persistent in all environments over an extended period of time. There is no set test for ADHD; instead, medical professionals base their diagnosis on the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV; with the newest edition being released soon).
Children may be diagnosed with:
- Predominantly inattentive-type ADHD, which is characterized by at least 6 symptoms of inattention.
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive-type ADHD, which is characterized by at least 6 symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity.
- Combined type ADHD, which is characterized by at least 6 symptoms of each category.
ADHD And Addiction
It is quite common for patients to present with both ADHD and problems with either substance abuse or pathological behaviors; this is called dual diagnosis. Because ADHD is often characterized by impulsivity, individuals with ADHD may be inclined to experiment with substances or to have difficulty controlling behavioral impulsivity, both of which can lead to addiction. Additionally, those with ADHD may have difficulty coping with their condition and its associated social and occupational consequences, which may compel the person to self-treat (i.e., escape from) with substances or behaviors.
The standard treatment for ADHD is a combination of behavioral counseling and medication.
Other therapies include psychotherapy, behavioral therapies, family therapy, basic support groups, or parenting skills training to help families better understand and manage the symptoms of ADHD. Patients who are also suffering from an addiction require a treatment plan that addresses both conditions simultaneously. Contact the UCLA Dual Diagnosis Department today to learn more about treatment program.