Substance Use Disorders and ADHD: Treating Addiction and ADD


Attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and substance use disorders (SUD) overlap significantly. About a quarter of grownups with SUD have ADHD, and people with ADHD are 3 times most likely to establish a SUD. 1 2 What’s more, SUD is frequently more extreme in people with ADHD. 3

Research study validates that ADHD treatment (i.e., stimulant medication) considerably enhances signs of both conditions and results for clients with ADHD and SUC. Still, prevalent misconceptions about addiction and ADHD medication frequently hinder treatment.

Below are 5 important takeaways from Dr. Timothy Wilens’ ADDitude webinar, “Substance Use Condition and ADHD: Safe, Effective Treatment Options,” broadcast on January 31, 2023, together with extra resources to assist you much better comprehend ADHD and SUD.

1. Does stimulant medication use increase the threat of addiction (to other compounds and/ or to stimulants)?

No. Utilizing stimulants for ADHD does not trigger addiction to stimulants or other compounds, consisting of drug, cannabis, and alcohol. In truth, the reverse holds true: Treating ADHD with medication decreases the threat of substance abuse, particularly when treatment begins early. 4

ADHD Stimulants and Substance Abuse: Next Actions

2. Does without treatment ADHD increase the possibility of SUD?

Yes. Several long-lasting research studies reveal that, compared to without treatment people with ADHD, kids and grownups who are dealt with for ADHD are at reduced threat for establishing substance use disorders. 4

Dangers of Unattended ADHD: Next Actions

3. Does stimulant medication aid deal with SUD also?

Definitely. For clients with ADHD and SUD, research study reveals that treating ADHD with stimulants enhances a client’s capability to remain in treatment for SUD– and treatment retention is the most essential consider a client’s healing. 5

Stimulant Medications and Comorbidities: Next Actions

4. What ADHD treatment strategy is best for individuals with SUD and ADHD?

Structured treatments that use cognitive behavior modification (CBT adjusted for SUD and ADHD) and medication are most reliable for treating people with ADHD and SUD. 6 If a client’s SUD is extreme, or if the client is high threat, a clinician might think about recommending a non-stimulant or an extended-release stimulant instead of an immediate-release choice that’s more vulnerable to abuse. In all, previous substance use history ought to not prevent clients with ADHD from getting treatment with stimulants.

SUD and ADHD Treatment: Related Resource

5. What are the threats of cannabis use by teenagers and young people with ADHD?

Cannabis is the drug most frequently misused by people with ADHD Research studies reveal that persistent cannabis use, particularly if started in teenage years, is connected to neuropsychological problems, relentless executive dysfunction, and other destructive modifications to brain function. 7

ADHD Teenagers and Cannabis: Next Actions

Substance Use Disorders and ADHD: Next Actions


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1 Wilens T. E. (2004 ). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity condition and the substance use disorders: the nature of the relationship, subtypes at threat, and treatment concerns. The Psychiatric centers of The United States and Canada, 27( 2 ), 283– 301. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-953X( 03 )00113-8

2 Charach, A., Yeung, E., Climans, T., & & Lillie, E. (2011 ). Youth attention-deficit/hyperactivity condition and future substance use disorders: relative meta-analyses. Journal of the American Academy of Kid and Teen Psychiatry, 50( 1 ), 9– 21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2010.09.019

3 Wilens, T. E., & & Morrison, N. R. (2011 ). The crossway of attention-deficit/hyperactivity condition and drug abuse. Present viewpoint in psychiatry, 24( 4 ), 280– 285. https://doi.org/10.1097/YCO.0b013e328345c956

4 Quinn, P. D., Chang, Z., Hur, K., Gibbons, R. D., Lahey, B. B., Rickert, M. E., Sj√∂lander, A., Lichtenstein, P., Larsson, H., & & D’Onofrio, B. M. (2017 ). ADHD Medication and Substance- Related Issues. The American journal of psychiatry, 174( 9 ), 877– 885. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16060686

5 Kast, K. A., Rao, V., & & Wilens, T. E. (2021 ). Pharmacotherapy for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Condition and Retention in Outpatient Substance Use Condition Treatment: A Retrospective Associate Research Study. The Journal of scientific psychiatry, 82( 2 ), 20m13598. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.20m13598

6 Zulauf, C. A., Sprich, S. E., Safren, S. A., & & Wilens, T. E. (2014 ). The complex relationship in between attention deficit/hyperactivity condition and substance use disorders. Present psychiatry reports, 16( 3 ), 436. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-013-0436-6

7 Tamm, L., Epstein, J. N., Lisdahl, K. M., Molina, B., Tapert, S., Hinshaw, S. P., Arnold, L. E., Velanova, K., Abikoff, H., Swanson, J. M., & & MTA Neuroimaging Group (2013 ). Effect of ADHD and marijuana use on executive operating in young people. Drug and alcoholism, 133( 2 ), 607– 614. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.08.001





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