Are Stimulant Use and ADHD Related?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed in children. About half of childhood cases persist into adulthood, although it is normal for hyperactive symptoms to diminish somewhat.

Adults with ADHD are at much higher risk of developing substance use disorder; between 25% - 40% of adults in active addiction also have ADHD.

ADHD and Addiction

The exact mechanism of what causes ADHD is unknown, but we know that it often correlates with a deficit of dopamine in the brain. This characteristic poses a multitude of challenges to people with ADHD, including:

  • Difficulties with judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Fidgeting
  • Overactivity
  • Short-term reward-seeking
  • Social awkwardness

These traits put people with ADHD at a unique risk of developing an addiction. Young people who struggle to control impulses or behavioral differences are often exposed to drug use earlier in life and are less resistant. At the same time, self-medication is extremely common among people who are not diagnosed. Adults with ADHD frequently abuse substances initially to quiet distractions, calm themselves down, and be productive.

Self-Medication With Illegal Stimulants

Abusing stimulants to self-medicate puts users at the same risk of addiction as using stimulants to get high. In addition, most illegal stimulants cause mental dependence when they are taken long-term, meaning the brain slows down its dopamine production when the drug is consistently in the system.

Using stimulants to self-medicate increases the risk of addiction. To the user, it may feel like these drugs are necessary to function, but this self-imposed treatment sets the groundwork for psychological addiction.

In a user with ADHD, this could cause further issues and make recovering from addiction more challenging. Withdrawal can also heighten ADHD symptoms, and they can be more extreme due to initial low dopamine production in the brain prior to the use of any medication.

Prescription Stimulant Addiction

Prescription drugs used to medicate ADHD are addictive in their own right. The most common drugs used to treat ADHD (Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin) are all central nervous system stimulants with the potential for abuse.

Modern research hasn’t found an overall trend in people developing addictions to their prescription drugs, but it occasionally happens. ADHD stimulant medication tends to produce highs only when it is improperly used or used by people without ADHD - however, dependence can develop regardless.

In addition, when people in treatment start to increase their dose against their doctor’s guidance or use short-acting medications at times of day not prescribed (e.g. outside of regular working hours), this can suggest abuse.

Treating Addiction and ADHD

Dual diagnosis

If a person is suffering from substance abuse disorder and undiagnosed ADHD, addiction treatment is highly likely to help. Effective addiction treatment incorporates dual diagnosis from the very beginning, which highlights the presence of any underlying psychiatric or behavioural conditions. Recovery is different for everyone, and co-occurring disorders require individual treatment. In people with ADHD, an effective treatment program needs to focus on building healthy coping strategies for its mental and behavioral challenges.


Attending any type of professional addiction therapy is universally helpful. However, in many cases, ADHD and drug treatment therapy compliment each other. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to strengthen resolve and empower people to make positive changes in their actions. These changes help people to manage ADHD symptoms and also cope with drug cravings healthily.

We Can Help

If a mental health disorder is complicating a substance use disorder for you or your loved one, we can help. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders such as ADHD that frequently accompany them. We offer a range of modalities, including dual diagnosis, psychotherapy, yoga, meditation, art and music therapies, acupuncture, and chiropractic care - all rooted in the 12-step philosophy. If you would like more information about our ADHD and stimulant addiction treatment, please call us at (833) 801-5483.

Do Natural Remedies For ADHD Work?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is common in young people and adults. ADHD which goes untreated throughout adolescence can become problematic in adulthood leading to difficulties in school, work performance, and handling life’s responsibility. Impulsivity, lack of control, and acting without consequence are character traits shared by both addiction and ADHD. Addiction is frequently co-occurring with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Often, people find it necessary to cope with their fast-moving thoughts due to ADHD with external substances. They find relief in getting, high or getting drunk because it helps disconnect them from their own minds.

Treating ADHD has been a source of controversy for some time. Studies have shown that children who are prescribed ADHD stimulant medications like Ritalin and Adderall have a higher risk of addiction later in life. However, early treatment of ADHD is supposed to limit the liability of addiction. Stimulant medications are powerful and often become addictions of their own. For example, college students are known to abuse drugs like Adderall and become addicted. Some studies have suggested that taking stimulant amphetamine drugs like Adderall is no different from taking cocaine or methamphetamine.

Outside of medication, there are plenty of other ways to manage ADHD. Holistic health supporters believe that a variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can give the brain the power it needs to find a sense of calm and focus. Yoga and meditation can increase focus and concentration. Many behavioral and organizational tools can help keep someone’s life with ADHD in better order.

Though there isn’t a magical “cure” for ADHD, creating a comprehensive routine including a balanced diet, exercise, vitamins, meditation, and medication can be helpful. For those who have addiction and co-occurring ADHD, stimulant medication usually isn’t prescribed any longer during and after treatment. Non-stimulant medications exist which still help with ADHD symptoms, especially in combination with other methods.

Managing recovery with ADHD requires a holistic approach of mind, body, and spirit. The integrative programs at Enlightened Solutions can help you find balance and healing in your life. For more information, call 833-801-5483.

What It Means (And Doesn’t Mean) To Live With A Mental Illness

Mental health and mental illness are becoming more well understood, but continue to face harmful shame and stigma.

Living With A Mental Illness Means You’re A Human Being

Humans develop mental illnesses. You have a mental illness. Chances are, you’re a human being. Living with a mental illness simply means you’re a human with a certain set of circumstances to live with. Mental illness does not make you sub-human or any kind of different breed of person. You still have the same heart, same brain, and same chemical makeup as everyone else. A few special variations have given you some particular challenges to work with. These don’t make you abnormal, they make you unique.

Living With A Mental Illness Does Not Mean You’re Crazy, Dangerous, Or A Monster

There are severe psychiatric mental health disorders which can completely cut someone off from their own humanity. Extreme cases of mental illness without any kind of treatment or intervention can cause someone to head down a troubled path. Such pathology is often sensationalized in the movies and books by villains, “psychos” and other harmful people. Mental illness is treatable more often than not. Without treatment and the use of tools to regulate your emotions, balance your moods, and help yourself stay centered, you can start to act “abnormal”. However, the damaging stigma and characterizations of mental illness do not apply to you. You’re not crazy, you’re not dangerous, and you’re not a monster. You are not a bad person who needs to be transformed into a good person. You live with an illness which needs to be healed so you can live well again.

Living With A Mental Illness Means You Have To Work Extra Hard

You feel things, experience things, and process things differently than your peers. When you have ADHD, you have to put in extra effort to create an environment in which you can focus, organize yourself, and manage your attention. Living with depression means being sensitive to your sensitivities and practicing self-care. Those who live with addiction and alcoholism work hard to create lifestyle changes which keep them away from using drugs and alcohol.

Living With A Mental Illness Does Not Mean You’re Weak

Quite the opposite. Going to greater lengths to take care of yourself, create a healthy environment, participate in good communication, and continue to work on yourself is courageous. It takes bravery and courage to look yourself in the mirror and confront your mental illness. Coming to a place of loving-kindness, compassion, and healing with yourself is something many people will spend their lifetimes avoiding. You are not weak, deficient, or a victim because of your mental illness. You are a recovery warrior! Be proud of the work you do for yourself.

Recovery is something to celebrate, not to be ashamed of. Making the decision to seek treatment and work towards a better you is a tremendous moment in your life. If you are in need of treatment for addiction, alcoholism, and/or a co-occurring mental health disorder, call Enlightened Solutions today for more information on our integrative, holistic healing programs of treatment. 833-801-5483.

ADHD Is A Plus, Not A Minus

Within the name, ADHD makes the diagnosis sound as if it is a matter of lacking rather than an actual advantage. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is usually characterized by an inability or extremed difficulty in concentrating or focusing. Along with inattention, ADHD comes with other characterizations that are not negatives. Sadly, ADHD is often labeled as being unmanageable. It is true that learning to live with ADHD requires adopting tools for managing an array of hyper-traits. However, they do not make you deficient, as the name might indicate. Instead, parts of living with ADHD man you an exceptionally unique and gifted person.

For example, you have an endless amount of energy. Though others call it “hyper”, your energy can be used in many different ways. Exercise is very good for managing ADHD. You have enough energy to be great at sports and get tons of things accomplished throughout the day. Harnessing that energy and focusing it on the task at hand is your challenge. When you learn to work with your energy, there is little you will not be able to accomplish!

“Learning disability” has nothing on creativity. People with ADHD think faster and more creatively than other people. You don’t have to work hard to come up with original ideas that are out of the box. You don’t even know what the box looks like!

Your hyperactive attention may sometimes make you feel like you’re not taking any information in. On the contrary, you pay attention to more detail than most people. You have more attention to be paid than you do things to pay attention to. For some, ADHD causes them to be bored because they are not being mentally stimulated by what is in front of them.

When you put your mind to it, there is literally nothing you cannot do. Passion is a factor in changing that boredom to incredible productivity. Once you find something you are interested in, your hyperactivity turns into hyperfocus. There will be no stopping you until you are done. Most of the time, you will do whatever you are doing with great success.

Other characteristics of ADHD that are usually seen with a negative connotation are impulsivity and risky or reckless behavior. It is true that when ADHD is not properly managed, that can lead to dangerous places. ADHD creates a three time higher chance in young people for experimenting with drugs or developing an addiction. However, impulsivity can become spontaneity and reckless behavior can lead to successful risk taking.

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed dual-diagnosis treatment facility equipped to treat patients with co-occurring disorders of substance abuse and mental health issues, like ADHD. ADHD can be managed with the proper treatment and education in life skills and personal development. We see your potential. Let us help you exceed it. For more information call 833-801-5483.