I’ve continued to do research and see if there are connections between addiction and ADHD. In particular of special interest is alcoholism. I found the following article that sheds some light:
Are Drug Abuse and Alcoholism More Common Among People With ADHD?
Several studies have shown a strong connection between ADHD, drug abuse, and alcoholism. ADHD is five to 10 times more common among adult alcoholics than it is in people without the condition. Among adults being treated for alcohol and substance abuse, the rate of ADHD is about 25%.
Why Are People With ADHD More Likely to Abuse Drugs and Alcohol?
People with ADHD tend to be more impulsive and likely to have behavior problems, both of which can contribute to drug and alcohol abuse, researchers say. Also, both ADHD and alcoholism tend to run in families. A child with ADHD who has a parent with alcoholism is more likely to also develop an alcohol abuse problem. Researchers have pointed to common genes shared between ADHD and alcoholism.
How are Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Treated in People with ADHD?
It’s important to remember that not everyone with ADHD will develop an alcohol or substance abuse problem. In adults who do develop a problem, doctors suggest treatment with nonstimulant medications, including atomoxetine (Strattera), clonidine (Kapvay), or guanfacine (Intuniv, Tenex), and sometimes certain antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and desipramine (Norpramin).
Whether Ritalin and other stimulants are effective treatments for ADHD patients with substance abuse problems is less clear. These drugs may be useful when prescribed in a long-acting form and in a controlled way to minimize the risk for becoming physically dependent on or misusing them. Individual or group therapy, as well as 12-step support groups, can also be an important part of the substance abuse program for people with ADHD.
What About Self-Medicating My ADHD?
Self-medication is when you turn to things like prescription or illegal drugs, caffeine, exercise, or alcohol.
Just like ADHD meds, marijuana, alcohol, and other substances also can boost your dopamine levels. That’s why some people find them so appealing.
Alcohol. People with ADHD turn to alcohol for different reasons:
- To ease the distress that comes with the condition.
- Help them deal with social and academic problems.
Many don’t realize alcohol will make their symptoms worse.
There’s a strong link between impulsive behavior, which is common in ADHD, and heavy drinking.
You may be self-medicating if you have more than 14 drinks a week if you’re a man or more than seven drinks a week if you’re a woman.
Illegal drugs. Some people believe that marijuana can help ease ADHD symptoms. But research has found almost no proof of this. In fact, cannabis — which more states are legalizing for medical and recreational use — can actually worsen your attention, impulse control, focus, and organization. Doctors advise against using pot to treat ADHD symptoms, even as a last resort. Stay off cocaine, heroin, and other illicit drugs.
Caffeine. Research shows that while caffeine may improve your concentration, it doesn’t work as well when taken as medication for ADHD. And too much caffeine can make your memory worse. If you’re a healthy adult, chances are that a couple of cups of joe a day may help perk up your mind. But if you drink more than that or can’t seem to cut back, talk to your doctor. Kids and teens should avoid any caffeine, since it can cause poor sleep and affect their growth.