Dual Therapy Helps ADHD and Addiction Issues

Diagnosing Adult ADHD

An estimated 4.4 percent of U.S. adults have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also common among adolescents and characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. About 25 percent of U.S. adults with ADHD are treated for substance dependence every year, and people with ADHD are 2.5 times more likely to develop a substance dependence issue than those without the disorder.

What substance use treatment is effective for people with ADHD?

Treating individuals with ADHD for substance dependence adds a layer of complexity that does not exist for recovering individuals without the disorder. Frequently, substance users with ADHD must receive treatment for the disorder before addressing their substance dependency. Treating ADHD first alleviates symptoms that make drug and alcohol treatment difficult.

Such a dual diagnosis, which refers to when a person has a problem with alcohol and drugs while suffering from a separate condition at the same time, most commonly depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and PTSD, requires a different treatment plan for each illness. These disorders are treatable conditions when approached in a structured way by identifying and addressing priorities in the order of negative effect on the person’s daily living.

Co-existing conditions must be considered together

When neither or only one condition receives attention, any treatment is less effective, and the overall condition can become worse. By considering both conditions simultaneously, the chances for a full and lasting recovery are greatly improved. Typically, the distress caused by the disorder such as ADHD or depression feeds the need for self-medication and elevates the risk of substance use. The symptoms of these disorders could therefore interfere with effectiveness of the sobriety or harm reduction methods that are common treatments of substance use.

Dual recovery programs

Treatment programs that focus on substance dependence and other mental health conditions, called dual recovery programs, address both disorders simultaneously. Upon completing an introductory period of treatment for ADHD and sobriety (usually six weeks to two months, ensuring ADHD treatment is working after evaluation), individuals begin rehab treatment that includes therapy and traditional substance use treatments while continuing treatment for ADHD.

Through dual recovery programs, traditional substance use treatments can be effective after individuals begin to treat their ADHD. Medications to treat ADHD provide the best protection against substance use and can help individuals focus on recovery. This along with proper therapy gives people the greatest chance to eliminate their substance use habit.

Excerpted from Drugrehab.com.

About Joan Swart, PsyD, Forensic Psychologist and lecturer

Joan Swart is a forensic psychologist, lecturer, and business developer at Open Forest LLC. She authored two books titled “Treating Adolescents with Family-Based Mindfulness” (Springer, 2015) and “Homicide: A Forensic Psychology Casebook” (CRC, 2016). She is a contributor to Hubpages and HuffPost.

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More on: Addiction, ADHD, Alcohol, Therapy
Latest update: August 10, 2018
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