ADHD and Alcoholism: How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect ADHD?

ADHD and alcoholism are common in teens and adults, but the reason might not be what you think. Some people believe that ADHD medications are a gateway to alcohol abuse and other drugs. You will know about ADHD and alcohol, its treatment, how alcohol affects ADHD, and why they are frequently combined.

What is ADHD?

ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a mental health condition that affects nearly 5 percent of adults. Less than 20 percent of adults having ADHD get treated, and about 40 percent of all cases of ADHD in adults are severe. Men are more likely to have ADHD than women, particularly in adulthood. ADHD causes many symptoms, primarily the inability to focus. People who have ADHD are also impulsive and hyperactive, which are triggers for alcohol and drug abuse.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is the second most common form of substance abuse in the United States, after tobacco addiction. When alcohol is consumed frequently, its excessive use affects relationships, work, and family, yet abuse continues. You will know that you have a problem with alcohol abuse if you continue drinking alcohol, even if it harms your health and negatively affects your life. Some people are more severely affected than others.

How Common are ADHD and Alcohol Abuse?

Every third child who has ADHD continue having issues with the disorder into adulthood. According to statistics, approximately 25 percent of adults treated for alcohol abuse also have ADHD. Children with ADHD are more likely to abuse alcohol in their teen years. 40 percent of children having ADHD go on to abuse alcohol at the age of 14, compared to 22 percent of children without an ADHD diagnosis.

Why are ADHD and Alcohol Abuse Linked?

ADHD and alcohol abuse are associated because people with ADHD self-medicate, according to Dr Carl Sherman. In a research, 30 percent of adults with ADHD and alcoholism said they drank to get high. A 70 percent said that they use alcohol and drugs to lessen the disorder's symptoms, such as insomnia, social awkwardness, and hyperactivity.

There is also a myth that ADHD medication causes drug and alcohol abuse, but the opposite is true. People with ADHD who take medication to control symptoms are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. People with ADHD are either undiagnosed or untreated and try to control symptoms by themselves. There may also be a biological link between ADHD and alcohol abuse. The genes associated with impulsivity and risk-taking are also the same genes linked with ADHD.

How does Alcohol Abuse Affect ADHD Symptoms?

Many people with ADHD abuse alcohol or other drugs because they are trying to self-medicate. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the human brain considerably. Many adults who have ADHD lose physical hyperactivity over time, but they are internally hyperactive. Their thoughts race so fast, and they’re unable to be productive.

Yet the opposite is true of alcohol abuse. In a healthy person, the effects of alcohol are the same as the effects of ADHD. Both ADHD and alcohol abuse affect the brain's frontal lobe, which reduces the ability to think. Even though thoughts may not be racing along, concentration can still be lacking in a person who consumes alcohol to treat the ADHD symptoms.

The biggest problem is when people find themselves in a binging situation. They drink more to lessen their symptoms and feel better. Drinking causes further complications with unclear thinking ability, and people continue to drink while trying to reach the balance. As a result, people with ADHD who drink to self-medicate are more likely to become addicted and have an alcohol abuse problem.

How to Treat Both Disorders?

If you have ADHD and alcoholism, you will need to treat both disorders. Adults who seek treatment for alcohol abuse but have untreated or undiagnosed ADHD are more likely to have a relapse.

ADHD treatment usually contains behavioural therapy and medication. Medication consists of stimulants that can be addictive. Many people think they should avoid these medications if they have an alcohol addiction. However, the fact is that adults with ADHD who use these medications are less likely to engage in alcohol or drug abuse.

Your primary step to getting help for ADHD and alcohol abuse is seeking substance abuse treatment from a provider. If you have never been diagnosed with ADHD, you should consult a psychiatrist for an accurate diagnosis.

What Can You Do Right Now?

You can do some things to combat the ADHD and alcohol abuse problem. Your first step is to avoid drinking to cope with symptoms. If you cannot stop alcohol abuse, visit an accredited treatment facility. Your second step is to book an appointment with a psychiatrist to diagnose and treat ADHD disorder.

If you are still unsure where to see help or whether you have ADHD, consulting professionals can help you. Talking to a certified psychiatrist can assist you in seeing patterns in your behaviour and identifying the issue of ADHD and alcohol affecting your life.

Consulting a therapist is often the primary step to finding resources and taking the following steps to ensure wellness and mental health. With Omni Help, it is way easier to talk to a therapist that can assist you on your journey to health and wellness. Via online chat, video chat, or call – Omni Help therapists can help you regardless of time and location. You can continue therapy in your comfort and on convenient days for you.