ADHD and Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

How many times have you heard someone claim to have ADHD, but just have some trouble focusing or paying attention? The reality is, that we misunderstand the concept of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If you have navigated to this page, odds are you struggle with a dual diagnosis of ADHD and addiction (or one of the two).

These two mental illnesses may seem foreign to each other, however, they are much more connected than we may initially think. We will be discussing ADHD, why we misunderstand it, what it is, why we should understand addiction as a proper illness, what a dual diagnosis is, and finally the connection between ADHD and substance abuse (and how to cope).

If you or a loved one struggles with ADHD and substance abuse, or one of the two, please reach out for help. The road to recovery may seem daunting, but we at the Discovery Institute in Marlboro, New Jersey want to help you. The road to recovery may seem daunting, but our goal for our clients is to make the path of entering rehab seem much easier. Let’s take a look at the connection between ADHD and addiction, and the treatment options available.

Addiction Is A Disease

adhd and addictionRecently, the Surgeon General declared drug abuse to be a disease. This has sparked controversy in the community, among loved ones affected by alcohol and substance abuse addiction. Many argue that this enables people to continue to use, and argue on the basis that drug addiction is inherently a choice. The idea stems from the notion that since someone chooses to use drugs and alcohol, etc., then addiction is a moral failure.

However, misunderstanding the idea of substance abuse problems has stigmatized it (which is one connection between addiction and ADHD). The stigmatization has done more harm than good, even though it makes sense on a rational level. It makes sense that since people choose to use narcotics and alcohol, then addiction is a choice.

However, to properly understand the connection between addiction and ADHD, and even to understand substance abuse addiction in itself, we have to move on from this notion. Addiction is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and while there certainly are some who choose to use narcotics and alcohol; nobody chooses addiction. There are other diseases similar to addiction, such as lung cancer and diabetes.

No one would say these people chose their disease, yet it functions in much the same way as addiction. Even in addiction, certain people have become dependent upon medically prescribed opioids, alcohol is encouraged by our culture and no one knows how much it takes to become dependent, and even those who binge drink or do drugs do not desire to become addicted to them despite knowing the consequences.

The Prevalence Of ADHD

Individuals diagnosed with ADHD in young adulthood exhibit a significantly higher occurrence of substance abuse disorder, with a prevalence rate of 15.2%, in contrast to those without ADHD, who have a prevalence rate of 5.6%. Research indicates that between 33% and 44% of young individuals with ADHD encounter issues related to alcohol misuse or dependence. Furthermore, individuals with ADHD are 5 to 10 times more prone to developing alcohol addiction compared to their counterparts without ADHD.

It is not difficult to see why these two illnesses are connected. The distractions, impulsiveness, and desire to always be experiencing something are all hallmarks of ADHD and addiction. Since many dual diagnoses stem from attempts at self-medication to cope with a disorder: one can infer that when we experience ADHD we turn to addiction as a way to self-medicate or attempt to slow down, focus, or relieve our constant hyperactivity.

ADHD is A Misunderstood Condition

The sad reality is that those who have ADHD will often be looked down upon by teachers, parents, or peers early on in life. This is because many misunderstand ADHD in children and adolescents as defiance. Individuals exhibiting ADHD symptoms might portray other disorders or behavior problems.

Any other symptoms similar to those described above should be taken to a psychiatrist to receive an ADHD diagnosis so that they can treat ADHD. ADHD can manifest itself early, and continue into early age, adulthood, or young adults.

Although this is understandable, it should motivate individuals to seek treatment as in our dual diagnosis treatment program. To help with co-occurring ADHD and alcohol dependence or substance abuse, our dual diagnosis program can assist. When you choose to start treatment for both ADHD impulsive behaviors and substance abuse problems, your life can change for the better.

The sheer number of people who have misunderstood ADHD is massive. Odds are we all lack an understanding of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Unless you are diagnosed, it may seem like a normal personality quirk, excessive energy, fidgetyness, etc.

The sad truth is that those who struggle with ADHD must constantly be on the move, never lacking stimulation. Individuals with this disorder often turn to anything they can to keep going. Substances like drugs and alcohol offer a quick fix for a lack of stimuli for people with ADHD.

ADHD is a disorder that causes people to lack a long-term view and act impulsively. So, many people who have this disorder turn to “quick fixes” to find relief. Non-stimulant medications, alcohol abuse, and illicit drugs might provide that relief. So, people who have ADHD engage in impulsive behavior and use these substances. This can result in an increased risk of an addiction problem.

addiction and adhd treatment center

What is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts individuals of all ages. It is marked by ongoing issues with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. People with ADHD may struggle to concentrate on tasks, adhere to directions, and stay organized. Additionally, they may display restlessness and act quickly without thinking about the outcomes.

It is crucial to recognize that these symptoms exceed what is considered normal behavior for their age group. ADHD does not indicate a lack of intelligence or skills; instead, it signifies a variance in how the brain processes information.

Types of ADHD

ADHD manifests in various forms, each characterized by distinct sets of symptoms. Health professionals classify ADHD into three main types:

1. Predominantly Inattentive Type
This variant of ADHD is primarily characterized by inattention and being easily distracted, with minimal or no signs of hyperactivity or impulsiveness. Individuals with this type are more prone to making careless mistakes, struggling with following instructions, and facing challenges in staying organized.
2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
 Individuals with this type primarily exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. They may experience restlessness, have difficulty sitting still, interrupt others, and make impulsive decisions without considering the consequences.
3. Combined Type
As the name implies, the combined type of ADHD involves a combination of symptoms from both the types above. Individuals with this typeface have significant difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Understanding the distinct types of ADHD is crucial as it enables the development of an effective treatment plan tailored specifically to address the individual’s unique set of symptoms.

ADHD Symptoms

The symptoms of ADHD are divided into two main categories: inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Inattention symptoms consist of:

  • Struggling to maintain focus on tasks
  • Being easily distracted
  • Making careless errors
  • Forgetting daily responsibilities
  • Difficulty organizing tasks

On the other hand, hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Excessive talking
  • Acting impulsively
  • Impatience in waiting for their turn

It is important to note that these symptoms need to be present for a minimum of six months and must be inappropriate for the individual’s age to warrant an ADHD diagnosis. It is also crucial to understand that while the general population of everyone may display these behaviors occasionally, individuals with ADHD exhibit them more intensely and frequently.

Causes and Risk Factors Of ADHD and Substance Use Disorders

Addiction is a multifaceted condition that is shaped by a blend of genetic, environmental, and psychological elements. It does not stem from a solitary cause but rather emerges from the intricate interplay of these influential factors. Although the precise origin of ADHD remains uncertain, scientists pose that various elements collectively contribute to the emergence of this condition. It entails an intricate interplay between genetics, environment, and brain structure.

The role of genetic predisposition in addiction is significant, accounting for approximately 50% of an individual’s likelihood to develop an addiction. Certain genes can lead to heightened rewards from drug and alcohol use, making individuals more susceptible to addiction

Various environmental factors, including family, peer influence, socio-economic status, and quality of life, play crucial roles in shaping an individual’s vulnerability to addiction. Exposure to drug use, stress, poverty, and lack of parental supervision can increase the risk of substance abuse and addiction.

Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and post-traumatic stress disorder significantly increase the risk of addiction. These conditions often co-occur with addiction, creating a cycle where each disorder worsens the symptoms of the other.

The earlier an individual starts using drugs or alcohol, the higher the likelihood of developing an addiction. Early exposure to substances can disrupt the brain’s reward system maturation, thereby increasing the risk of substance use disorders.

The way a drug is consumed can impact the risk of addiction. Ingesting substances through smoking or injecting can intensify and expedite the drug’s effects, thereby heightening the risk of addiction.

Understanding these factors can aid in the prevention of addiction and the effective treatment of individuals who have become addicted. Each person’s journey towards addiction is unique, necessitating personalized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs.


Find out how we can help

Our compassionate counselors are standing by to answer any questions you may have. After helping thousands of people over the last 50 years, we have the resources to help you and your family and all your individual needs.

The Relationship Between ADHD and Addiction

Individuals diagnosed with ADHD frequently experience coexisting addiction and mental health disorders, resulting in an intricate interplay of symptoms that pose a considerable challenge to effectively address one’s conditions. Studies have revealed a higher likelihood for individuals with ADHD to develop substance use disorders. This correlation may be attributed to the inherent difficulties in impulse control associated with ADHD, which can drive individuals towards substance use as a means of self-medication.

Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis occurs when an individual receives a diagnosis for both ADHD and a substance use disorder. This diagnosis can complicate the treatment process due to the interaction between these two conditions. For example, substance abuse can worsen the symptoms of ADHD, while untreated ADHD can heighten the risk of substance use.

ADHD symptoms and Addictive Personality

Individuals with ADHD frequently display characteristics linked to an “addictive personality,” such as impulsivity, seeking out sensations, and struggling to postpone gratification. These traits may heighten the likelihood of forming an addiction. Nevertheless, it is crucial to highlight that not all individuals with ADHD will experience an addictive disorder.

Each person’s circumstances are distinct, and various factors, like genetics and environment, can impact addiction development. Recognizing the connection between ADHD and addiction can guide prevention efforts and assist those facing these challenges in obtaining the specific treatment they require.

ADHD and Addiction Treatment

dual diagnosis treatmentAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, and addiction can be daunting diagnoses. However, there are plenty of ways to recover; such as holistic care, community, support groups, an emphasis on mental health, family therapy, and more. These are a few ways that we should try to recover.

Holistic care focuses on caring for the whole person; mind, body, and soul. This means going out into nature, practicing meditation, learning to be mindful, and trying to be our truest selves, which all help the dopamine system. For a disorder that needs us to constantly go fast, slowing down can be a very helpful practice.

Developing a positive relationship within the community through recovery is also imperative. We were designed to be social and should be amongst others in recovery. Alongside this, seeking to improve ourselves through group therapy or individual therapy are great way to recover. All in all, we want to seek treatment. Above all else, we aim to embark on the daily journey to recovery.

A comprehensive treatment strategy is necessary to effectively treat both ADHD and addiction, taking into account the specific difficulties that come with managing these co-occurring conditions. Engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a nutritious diet, and ensuring sufficient rest can effectively assist in managing symptoms of ADHD and promoting overall well-being. Additionally, it is beneficial to refrain from interacting with individuals and visiting locations that may trigger ADHD symptoms, as this can aid in their management.

There are several types of treatment programs available for individuals diagnosed with both ADHD and substance use disorder. The choice of treatment often depends on the severity of both conditions and the individual’s circumstances.

This step is typically the initial phase in numerous addiction treatment programs. Under the supervision of professionals, detoxification aids in the management of the physical repercussions that arise from withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. Occasionally, medication may be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal. However, it is important to note that detoxification alone is not comprehensive enough to serve as a complete treatment for substance use disorder.

Stimulant medications such as Adderall or non-stimulant medications like Strattera are commonly used to effectively manage symptoms of ADHD. These medications aid in enhancing concentration, reducing impulsivity, and improving the ability to focus. When it comes to treating addiction, medications like methadone or buprenorphine are utilized for opioid addiction, while Disulfiram or Naltrexone are prescribed for alcohol addiction. Medication must be carefully prescribed and monitored to mitigate the risk of potential misuse or addiction.

Inpatient or residential treatment centers create a structured space that is free from daily distractions and potential triggers. These centers commonly utilize a mix of therapeutic methods, including individual counseling, group therapy, and sometimes medication. They can be particularly helpful for individuals with severe symptoms of ADHD and addiction, or those facing other co-occurring mental health challenges.

Outpatient treatment programs offer a less intensive approach compared to inpatient programs, enabling individuals to reside at home while undergoing treatment. These programs are particularly suitable for individuals with milder symptoms or those transitioning from an inpatient program

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) encompass a range of therapies, educational programs, and support groups. Irrespective of the program chosen, it is crucial to address both ADHD and addiction concurrently to effectively manage symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse. This comprehensive treatment approach can greatly enhance an individual’s quality of life and provide a clear path towards recovery.

It is crucial to comprehend the correlation between ADHD and substance abuse to effectively address them. Psychoeducation plays a vital role in enlightening individuals and their families about these disorders, leading to a reduction in stigma, enhanced comprehension, and improved commitment to treatment strategies.

Addiction therapy services such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are a valuable tool for addressing ADHD and addiction. This type of therapy equips individuals with techniques to handle symptoms, enhance behaviors, and cultivate healthier coping mechanisms. In the case of addiction, CBT can be behavioral interventions that assist in recognizing triggers, controlling cravings, and averting relapse.

It is crucial to customize each person’s treatment plan according to their specific requirements and situation. A blend of these therapies is frequently the most successful method, and it is vital to collaborate closely with a healthcare professional to create and execute a thorough treatment plan.

Getting Help for ADHD and Addiction

It is never too late. You owe it to those who care about you, the recovery community, your treatment center, and yourself to take your life back from these behavioral addictions. Dealing with ADHD and addiction is very difficult, but it is not impossible.

We at Discovery Institute want you to know that we are here for you. If you need anything, help is one phone call away. We have experts available for connection at all hours. Taking recovery one step at a time is extremely important. Visiting this page was a great first step. Now, it is time for you to embark on the journey to a whole new life, please consider contacting us today.


Get Help Now

Looking for addiction help for yourself or a loved one? Our professionally trained admissions coordinators are always available to assist you with any questions you might have.


Make a Referral

For professional client referrals, please call our helpline and ask to be directed to the outreach team. You can also submit a contact form below to schedule a call with us.


Schedule a Tour

If you are an addiction professional or a prospective patient interested in our services, we would love to arrange a tour of our treatment facility with you.