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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) And Addiction
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may present in adults, but it is difficult to diagnose this in adults as compared to children with ADHD. Those who have lived with the ADHD undiagnosed for a long time since childhood may not even be aware of their own behavior. Adults with ADHD may adapt or cope with the symptoms over the time. Symptoms of ADHD in adults vary and are difficult to diagnose. ADHD in adults can pose many difficulties in their life if goes undiagnosed or remain untreated.
Adult patients with ADHD or other associated complications of adulthood ADHD are not easily convinced that they have this disorder or if convinced they are more reluctant to seek help. Sometimes ADHD in adults finds it as blessing in disguise that is, they enjoy a benefit from the power/activity that can define the hyperactivity part of this disorder. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD also exhibit a much more frequent incidence of addictive behavior than those who do not suffer from the disorder. Probably because substance abuse often is connected to a need to self-medicate untreated ADHD symptoms.
The Prevalence of Addiction (Alcohol addiction, smoking addiction, drug addiction) in Adults with undiagnosed ADHD is much more as compared non ADHD persons. It has been observed in many studies that ADHD represents a significant risk factor for the onset and development of addiction. The rate of addiction for all substance abuse, especially drugs with stimulant properties is much higher for ADHD patients than others. In a recent trial it was found that more than 20 % of adults with the ADHD had abused or were addicted to alcohol/drugs and this is almost three times the rate for adults without ADHD disorder.
Abusive substances or other similar drugs affect the brain in the way similar to the medicines commonly advised for ADHD this might be because they treat themselves by self medication as they are not well aware of their underlying illness.
The bigger problem here among treating physicians or primary health care persons is that even they consider ADHD features to other more commonly diagnosed disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or other forms of psychosis disorders. This erroneous diagnosis can lead to ADHD remain untreated. Adult ADHD is also a challenging one. Although most of childhood ADHD patients remain normal in their adult life but many remain with ADHD and this may be alarming for these persons. ADHD is easily controllable with medicine and counselling
Self medication to get rid of the symptoms of the ADHD lead to use of some abusive substance or use of multiple substances. The relief these abusive drugs brings encourages one to continue my substance abuse.
Therefore, consulting physician must rule out the possibility of underlying ADHD while treating an alcoholic or a drug user and hence treat accordingly.