Exploring the Intersection of ADHD and Substance Abuse

adhd and addiction

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity that interfere with functioning or development. Despite the challenges associated with ADHD, people with this form of neurodivergence often exhibit a range of strengths, including creativity, spontaneity, resilience and the ability to think outside the box.

If you have ADHD, you might struggle with focus, organization, impulse control and time management skills. The obstacles related to this neurotype can lead to difficulties at school, work or within your relationships. They may also make you more vulnerable to developing a drug or drinking problem.

Women and ADHD

Many mistaken beliefs about ADHD – both within and outside the medical community – have hindered the study and detection of ADHD in women, often leading to inadequate evaluations and improper treatment. For example, there’s a common misconception that ADHD only affects young boys, which is why we see far more men getting the accurate diagnoses and support they deserve. While ADHD can and does affect women, it tends to present differently due to a complex web of factors, including comorbidities and hormonal fluctuations.

Often, lingering stereotypes, referral bias and outdated gender role expectations cause women with ADHD to remain undiagnosed for years. Consequently, they might have trouble completing day-to-day tasks, not understanding why things that seem simple for others are so challenging for them. Other people may unfairly label these women as “lazy” or “careless,” resulting in frustration, shame and low self-esteem.

Many women with ADHD are highly motivated to camouflage or compensate for their symptoms. This “masking” often manifests as anxiety or mood disorders, which can also lead to misdiagnosis.

Co-Occurring ADHD and Addiction

A growing body of research predicts severe mental and physical health outcomes for women who receive inadequate ADHD evaluations and treatments, including a higher risk of substance use disorder. For example, self-medicating is a misplaced coping strategy some people resort to for managing their ADHD symptoms.

While alcohol, marijuana, nicotine or illicit drugs might provide temporary relief, they can be harmful in the long run, leading to addiction, deteriorating mental and physical health and potentially making your ADHD worse.

ADHD Challenges and the Path to Recovery

Despite all the difficulties presented by co-occurring ADHD and addiction, they are treatable conditions. At Rising Roads Recovery, we recognize the unique obstacles faced by women with ADHD. We provide a range of treatments, including psychiatric consultations and medication management, to help our clients manage their ADHD symptoms effectively and healthily, without resorting to self-medication.

Through individual and group therapy, we provide a supportive environment for women to understand and manage their ADHD and co-occurring substance abuse. Our approach aims to empower women, using their strengths to create personalized recovery paths and foster healthier relationships with themselves and their futures.

Rising Roads is a place for women to heal. We believe that by residing in a safe, gender-specific environment, our clients can lay the groundwork for lifelong recovery. To learn more, take a tour of our facility or contact our admissions team.

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