Are ADHD Sufferers More Likely To Start Abusing Substances?

Written By Alla Levin
October 09, 2023

Are ADHD Sufferers More Likely To Start Abusing Substances?

ADHD puts a person more at risk of substance abuse. Researchers found that a person with this disorder is up to three times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than children in the general population. This is possibly because drugs or alcohol can help the child calm down. They find that drugs or alcohol serves as a quick fix compared to traditional methods of controlling the symptoms.

Furthermore, teens who try drugs and alcohol find the effects are more intense if they have ADHD. They enjoy the experience more because their brains are wired differently. Sadly, the impulsivity seen with this disorder often leads them to addiction rapidly. The child may need the help of dual diagnosis treatment to address ADHD and substance abuse.

Which Drugs Do Teens Prefer?

Teens typically turn to marijuana to relieve their ADHD, although they will also use alcohol and nicotine. They don’t want to get high as much as they want to bring their symptoms under control. Kids often find their ADHD to be tiring. They can never slow down, thanks to this disorder. Cocaine and nicotine help boost their attention span. Marijuana, in contrast, sedates them while leaving them feeling euphoric.

Risk Factors

Teens may have other risk factors that put them at high risk of substance abuse. Many kids with ADHD also have other mental health issues. The combination of the problems increases the risk of abusing one or more drugs. Environmental factors may also lead the child to abuse one or more substances. They may want to fit in and use drugs to do so. They might struggle in school and use these substances to help them in this area.

What Role Do ADHD Medications Play In Substance Abuse Risk?

Many people think the stimulant medications used to treat this disorder serve as gateway drugs to more complex substances. Researchers have found the exact opposite to be true. ADHD medications don’t increase or decrease the risk of a child-abusing other drugs or alcohol in the future. Further research suggests children who take ADHD medication are less inclined to struggle with substance abuse as they get older.

Are ADHD sufferers more likely to start abusing substances: the parents’ role

Parents must advocate on behalf of their children. If they suspect a child has ADHD, they need to have the child evaluated so a treatment plan can be developed. Furthermore, they need to make the child aware of the dangers of alcohol and drugs early. The parents must explain the child is at high risk of misusing these substances, which can impact their lives in countless ways.

Parents should not, however, make accommodations for the child or excuse their behavior. There must be consequences if the child is found to be using drugs or alcohol. The child must learn other ways to handle the problems they are experiencing. The parents cannot do this for them.

Open lines of communication are essential. Parents and children might constantly fight. It falls on the parents to maintain a positive relationship with the child, as the child may not know how to process. They lack the coping skills to do so. Family therapy may be of help in this situation.

A child with ADHD may be at a higher risk of abusing substances. This does not mean they will. Parents need to work with their children to keep them on the right path. However, if a child turns to drugs or alcohol, the parents need to step in immediately and get them help. Doing so will ensure they have a better quality of life.

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