The Truth About ADD/ADHD And Substance Abuse

Children and teens with ADD/ADHD are 2.5 times more likely to develop an addiction or substance use disorder (SUD), according to a research paper published in Pediatrics.

Did you know that that children with ADD/ADHD are:
• Twice as likely to use nicotine
• Almost twice as likely to develop a dependence on alcohol
• Approximately 1.5 times more likely to use marijuana recreationally
• Twice as likely to develop cocaine dependence

The fact that 11% of school-age children have received a medical diagnosis of ADD/ADHD—a 16% increase since 2007 and a 41% increase in the past decade—raises the red flag on the issue.

Drugs & ADD/ADHD

Even more alarming is that drugs such as:
1. Marijuana
2. Inhalants
3. Pain medications
4. Alcohol abuse
…interfere with the action of first-line medications or supplements used to treat ADD/ADHD.

Does Substance Abuse Affect Brain Function?

Not only does substance abuse disturb brain function, but it also disrupts brain development. Almost everyone knows this is true for babies exposed to substances during development, but most people don’t realize that teenagers and young adults are still vulnerable because the brain continues to develop until around the age of 25.

Why Can’t I Just Say No? The Brain’s Self-Control Circuit

The brain systems that drive you to seek out things that bring you pleasure are the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which puts on the brakes when you are about to engage in risky behavior, work in concert to create your self-control circuit. In a healthy self-control circuit, an effective PFC provides impulse control and good judgment while the deep limbic system offers an adequate dose of motivation so you can plan and follow through on your goals. You can say no to alcohol, hot fudge sundaes, cigarettes, gambling, sex fetishes, and many other bad behaviors.

The PFC is diminished and the drive circuits take control. When the PFC is underactive, it can create an imbalance in the reward system and cause you to lose control over your behavior. When this is the case you are more likely to fall victim to your cravings. Having low activity often results in a tendency for impulse-control problems and poor internal supervision.

In this video, Dr. Elizabeth Stuller talks about the brain areas involved in addiction, including the prefrontal cortex—the area responsible for ADD/ADHD symptoms.

We Can Help

At the Amen Clinics, we can help you and your loved ones overcome the stigma and suffering associated with ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, brain injury, weight loss, addictions, memory issues, brain fog, and other emotional and cognitive issues. If you are ready to regain control over your life or help a loved one do the same, give us a call at 1-888-288-9834 or click here to ask a question.

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