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Substance Abuse And Adhd

Substance Abuse and ADHD: Is There a Connection?

Many individuals have symptoms of both substance abuse and ADHD, but is there a connection between the two? Read on to find out.

Overview of Substance Abuse and ADHD

Do you or someone you know have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and also struggle with substance abuse? If so, you are not alone. Millions of individuals around the world suffer from both substance abuse and ADHD, making it one of the most common comorbidities in mental health today.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how these two disorders may be related, what treatments exist that can help manage both conditions simultaneously, and how support networks can be beneficial for those dealing with them.
It’s important to note that not everyone who has ADHD struggles with substance abuse, or the other way around.
Substance Abuse And Adhd

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Substance Abuse and ADHD

Make sure that you meet with your doctor or other medical provider to see if you may need treatment for either or both conditions.

Some treatment centers offer dual diagnosis treatment, meaning they can help treat both substance abuse and ADHD at the same time to make sure you get the help you need.

What Is Substance Abuse Disorder?

Substance abuse disorder (SUD) is a medical condition that is characterized by the excessive and prolonged use of drugs or alcohol. This often causes significant impairment or distress, especially if an individual uses substances frequently over a long period of time.

Symptoms of SUD

Signs of a substance abuse disorder may include:

  • Strong feelings of needing to use drugs or alcohol 
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop using
  • Withdrawal symptoms when substance use is stopped

SUD affects people from all walks of life and can have devastating consequences on their health, relationships, and overall well-being.

Risk Factors for Developing SUD

Some people may be at a higher risk of developing a substance abuse disorder than others, including those who have family with a substance abuse disorder and those who grew up in an environment that supported or encouraged substance use.1

Fortunately, with the right treatment and support, it is possible to recover holistically and healthily from substance abuse disorder. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse disorder, seek professional help immediately. Remember, you do not have to go through it alone.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a common neuro-developmental disorder that can cause individuals to have difficulty with paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It affects both children and adults and can have a significant impact on daily life.

Impact of ADHD

People with ADHD may struggle with everyday activities such as:

  • Focusing on tasks 
  • Remembering important details
  • Thinking before acting

Although ADHD is a common condition, it can be difficult to identify and diagnose. That’s why it’s important to seek professional help if you suspect you or a loved one may have ADHD.2

What Medication Is Used for ADHD?

There are a few medication options that your doctor may recommend in order to treat ADHD. Stimulants are typically the first line of treatment for ADHD. Stimulants work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that are responsible for focus and attention.

Common stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall. If stimulants are not effective or if their side effects are too severe, your doctor may suggest a non-stimulant medication instead. 

It’s important to work closely with your doctor to find the medication that works best for you or your loved one, as each individual may respond differently to different medications.

Is ADHD a Risk Factor for Developing a Substance Abuse Disorder?

Studies have shown that there may be a connection between substance abuse and ADHD. Individuals with ADHD may be at a higher risk of developing substance abuse disorders due to impulsivity or a need to self-medicate.3

Having ADHD Does Not Mean SUD Is Inevitable

It is important to note that having ADHD does not guarantee that an individual will eventually misuse drugs or alcohol. It only means that they may have a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder.

Properly treating ADHD symptoms may help teenagers and adults with ADHD be able to make healthy decisions about drugs and alcohol. Early recognition, proper diagnosis, and treatment play a crucial role in getting individuals the help they may need. 

If you or someone you know has issues with substance abuse and ADHD, don’t wait to get help. Seek specialized care at a dual diagnosis treatment center to help them achieve a fulfilling life free from substance abuse.

Why Does Substance Abuse and ADHD Occur Together?

The relationship between substance abuse and ADHD is not fully understood. It is possible that adolescents and adults with ADHD are more likely to use nicotine and other substances to self-medicate.

They might be looking for ways to feel better or help themselves focus at work or school. Other possible explanations for link between substance abuse and ADHD include genetic contributions and structural brain abnormalities.4

How Are Prescription Stimulants Misused?

Stimulant substance abuse is a serious problem that can have dangerous consequences. People abuse illegal stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine as well as misuse ADHD medication. 


A common problem is teenagers and college students selling their prescription ADHD medication to other students to help them focus or get high.



Stimulant ADHD medication such as Adderall and Ritalin affect people without ADHD differently and can produce feelings of euphoria. Individuals with ADHD who use prescription stimulants need them to function normally.

Understanding the Dangers of Stimulant Misuse

It is dangerous to use stimulants without a prescription or take more than the prescribed amount. It is also dangerous to take them in a different manner than prescribed, such as snorting or injecting.


Misusing this type of drug can strain the heart and lead to serious heart problems, as well as cause anxiety and paranoid behavior. In extreme cases, stimulant abuse can lead to seizures, strokes, and even death.5


Stimulants should never be taken in ways other than how they were prescribed. If you or a loved one have ADHD and treat it with medication, you should communicate closely with your doctor. They can adjust the dose and type of medication for the best results. 

What Is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A co-occurring disorder is when someone has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. It’s important to understand that these two conditions often go hand in hand.

Therefore, treatment requires an integrated approach. This means addressing both the mental health and substance use issues concurrently. 

What Happens if You Leave Co-Occurring Disorders Untreated?

If left untreated, co-occurring disorders can worsen over time. They can lead to negative consequences in all areas of a person’s life, from work to relationships. It’s essential to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. A great place to find help is an addiction treatment center that specializes in treating co-occurring disorders.

There have been cases of co-occurring disorders for substance abuse and ADHD. The most common substances that those with ADHD tend to misuse include marijuana, nicotine, stimulants, and alcohol.6

A co-occurring disorder may also be referred to as dual diagnosis. Many substance abuse treatment centers specialize in dual diagnosis treatment. This ensures that individuals get the care they need for both disorders.

Why Is it Important to Treat Both Substance Abuse and ADHD?

Dual diagnosis treatment is vital for those who suffer from co-occurring substance abuse and ADHD disorders. It is essential to understand that these two disorders are deeply interconnected and cannot be treated separately. 

Co-occurring disorder treatment can help address the root cause of both disorders by providing integrated care simultaneously. 

Dual diagnosis treatment helps individuals work through their psychological and emotional problems, which may have led to the development of addiction in the first place.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Empowering Individuals to Lead Happy, Fulfilling Lives

With targeted and personalized therapies, people can achieve long-lasting recovery and avoid relapse. Dual diagnosis treatment is not just about treating addiction or mental illness. 

Its goal is to empower individuals to regain control of their lives through holistic and compassionate care.

What Are the Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Studies have also shown that dual diagnosis treatment for conditions such as substance abuse and ADHD can lead to:7

  • Reduced substance use
  • Improvement in ADHD symptoms with correct care
  • Increased chance for successful treatment for both disorders
  • Improved and healthier quality of life
  • Decreased hospitalization rates

What Are Treatment Options for Substance Abuse and ADHD?

There are multiple treatment options available for those with co-occurring disorders of substance abuse and ADHD. Some of the most popular ones include:8

Medication Management

When it comes to dual diagnosis, medication management is an important aspect of treatment. This refers to the careful administration and monitoring of medications. Medication can be extremely effective in helping to manage symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD side effects. 

However, it must be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional who specializes in dual diagnosis treatment. 

Working closely with your healthcare team to make sure you are taking the correct dosage and using the medication as prescribed can make a big difference in your recovery.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps an individual change negative thought patterns and learn new behaviors. 

It’s a practical, evidence-based approach that has been shown to be effective for a wide range of mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders.

In CBT, you’ll work with a therapist to identify negative thoughts that are contributing to your problems, and you’ll learn strategies for challenging and changing those thoughts. You’ll also practice new behaviors and coping skills to help you manage your symptoms.

Support Groups

Support groups for dual diagnosis are a valuable resource for those who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences, receive encouragement, and learn from others who are facing similar challenges.

Dual diagnosis can be a complex and overwhelming issue to handle alone, and these support groups offer a sense of community. It is a place for individuals to discuss their concerns and receive helpful advice from peers who understand what they are going through.

Behavioral Therapy

This type of therapy focuses on changing harmful behaviors and thought patterns that may be contributing to both substance abuse and ADHD. 

Through counseling sessions, individuals can learn coping mechanisms, develop healthy habits, and improve communication skills.

Behavioral therapy can also address underlying trauma or past experiences that may have led to the dual diagnosis. While it can be a challenging process, with time and persistence, behavioral therapy can lead to a happier and healthier life.

Substance Abuse And Adhd

Rise Above Treatment Helps People with Substance Abuse and ADHD

Rise Above Treatment in California can provide comprehensive treatment for individuals struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders such as ADHD.

Our dedicated and experienced team at Rise Above Treatment combines evidence-based therapies, individual and group counseling, and medication management to address the root causes of addiction and its associated challenges. 

Treatment Opportunities

Additionally, we offer specialized treatment programs that focus on co-occurring disorders like ADHD, which can significantly impact an individual’s recovery journey.


Our dual diagnosis treatment programs are personalized for each individual in order to fully treat the range of symptoms that you or a loved one may be experiencing. You don’t have to struggle with your co-occurring disorders alone. 

Reach Out to Rise Above and Begin Healing

Through our comprehensive range of services and commitment to individualized care, Rise Above Treatment offers hope and healing to those grappling with addiction and co-occurring disorders.

Get in touch with us today if you or a loved one struggle with substance abuse and ADHD. We will be with you every step of the way during your recovery.

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Are you ready to Rise Above your mental health and addiction challenges?

Reach out to us today. Let us provide the support and guidance needed for sustainable recovery and wellness, allowing you to lead the happy, healthy, and fulfilling life you deserve.