Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders: ADHD and Substance Abuse

Treatment for Dual DiagnosisUnfortunately, it is quite common for people to suffer from substance misuse disorders. Indeed, this can be extremely challenging. At the same time, a person may suffer from a mental health disorder. For example, an individual may deal with ADHD and addiction simultaneously. When these conditions co-occur, it is essential to seek treatment for both disorders.

Of course, professional help for only one disorder will not lead to a successful recovery. At Harmony Place in Los Angeles, we offer a safe and healthy environment for individuals who seek help for a dual diagnosis. In particular, we offer assistance for people who are struggling with ADHD and substance abuse.

What is ADHD?

ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that often begins in childhood. In many cases, it continues into adulthood. Scientists have not been able to pinpoint the cause of the disorder, but many believe that genetics is involved. Also, it is believed that a brain injury, exposure to certain environmental hazards, or premature birth may lead to ADHD.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

What is Substance Abuse?

Although it is common for a child or a person to have difficulty focusing from time to time, symptoms of ADHD are more severe and make it challenging to live normally:

  • Fidgeting
  • Losing things
  • Talking in excess
  • Excessive daydreaming
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Difficulty dealing with others

Types of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation. With this form of ADHD, it is difficult to finish a job, pay attention to details, or follow instructions. Also, an individual is constantly distracted during the day.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation. With this type of ADHD, it is difficult to sit still. Also, a person talks profusely and is constantly restless. Impulsiveness occurs as well. As a result, injuries are common.
  • Combined Presentation. With this form of ADHD, a person experiences symptoms from both types of ADHD.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is classified as harmful behavior that involves using drugs or alcohol for mood-altering reasons. Abuse does not always include illegal substances. In fact, it is possible for an individual to abuse prescription medications. As a result, the person becomes dependent or addicted.

Harmful use includes abuse that leads to impaired control, failure to perform regular daily activities, or health issues. In other words, a person may be unable to get through work without using these substances. Also, a person may withdraw from social interactions.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

There are both physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of substance abuse.

Physical Signs

  • Tremors
  • Puffy face
  • Cold hands
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Change in eating habits
  • Disruption of sleep cycle
  • General deterioration of health

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Mood swings
  • Financial problems
  • Secretive behavior
  • Personality changes
  • Poor work performance
  • Withdrawal from social interaction

ADHD and Drug Abuse Co-occurring Together

ADHD and Drug Abuse Co-occurring TogetherIn a number of cases, a person with a drug misuse disorder will suffer from another mental disorder. This is considered a dual diagnosis. Many times, this condition is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to some scientific studies, there is a connection between ADHD and addiction.

Children with ADHD are more likely to become adults who are dependent on drugs or alcohol than children who do not have the condition. In fact, adults who abuse alcohol are five to 10 times more likely to have ADHD. This may be linked to the lower impulse control that comes with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Addiction to Medication for ADHD

In general, people with ADHD require medicine to control symptoms. Unfortunately, this type of medication is commonly abused. Usually, the two most prescribed drugs for ADHD are Adderall and Ritalin. Both are stimulants that control the nervous system. With improper use, these drugs have similar effects as cocaine. A person feels an instant “high”. As a result, addiction commonly develops.

After treatment, ADHD medication may still be necessary. Many doctors believe that non-stimulants are the smartest options. Although they may not be as effective as conventional drugs, they are safer for people who have a tendency to become addicted. Other times, extended-release stimulants are used.

Specialized Treatment is Essential

When a person has received a dual diagnosis of ADHD and substance abuse, it is essential to seek specialized treatment. Again, treating substance misuse without addressing the co-occurring mental health disorder will not lead to successful recovery on a long-term basis. It is essential to receive medical attention for both disorders.

How to Help a Loved One with a Dual DiagnosisTreatment for Dual Diagnosis

It is essential to seek treatment for a dual diagnosis. An integrated approach is vital for a successful recovery. First, detox is necessary. Then, a person should further treatment in a rehab facility. At Harmony Place, we build plans that address a patient’s total needs. In other words, counseling and medical treatment is used.

Therapy for Dual Diagnosis

It is important to recognize and understand the treatments that work best for people who suffer from co-occurring disorders. To be sure, an individualized approach is most effective. This includes a variety of therapies.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy brings many benefits to individuals who battle ADHD and drug abuse simultaneously. According to the National Association of cognitive behavioral Therapists, patients “unlearn” preconceived notions about their lives and the ways that they form decisions. In other words, individuals change how they view their self-worth. Therefore, they change the negative behaviors that are associated with substance abuse.

With this therapy, a patient takes an active role in setting goals. Also, a therapist creates a long-term plan with this person so that recovery is successful. True healing occurs as a person learns ways to accomplish these goals.

Alternative Therapies

Frequently, treatment for a dual diagnosis brings a great deal of stress. Besides conventional therapies that take place in office settings, some patients respond best to alternative forms of treatment. In fact, practicing relaxation techniques is an excellent way to deal with anxiety or pain. When they are combined with conventional treatments, a patient’s body enjoys lowered blood pressure and a decreased heart rate. In many cases, a person practices yoga, massage therapy, or other meditation.

Benefits of Individualized Treatment for Successful Recovery of ADHD and Addiction

When a person experiences ADHD and substance abuse, it is vital to treat both problems at the same time. First, a person receives focused care. The initial step of recovery is detox. When a person is dealing with a co-occurring disorder, medically-supervised detox allows a person to wean off of drugs in a secure environment. Medication may be prescribed when necessary. Besides addiction, a patient’s mental health is monitored and treated.

To be sure, individuals medicate themselves with drugs or alcohol to alleviate symptoms of their medical disorders. With an individualized treatment plan, a medical professional addresses ADHD symptoms and teaches healthy ways to deal with them.

How to Help a Loved One with a Dual Diagnosis

When a loved one deals with a mental illness and a substance misuse disorder, communication may be limited. It often causes a large rift in the relationship. After a person helps a loved one seek medical attention, it is essential to seek family counseling to understand the problem.

Usually, drug addiction worsens mental illness and its effects. As a result, a person may feel even more alone. Also, it causes an individual to turn to drugs as a means of help.

Understanding the Problem

When a friend or family member understands addiction and how it relates to a dual diagnosis, it is easier to offer a source of support. Through therapy, families learn how to identify conflicts and overcome them. Also, it becomes possible to re-establish honesty and communication. Therefore, trust and forgiveness can occur.

Relapse may be a process that takes weeks. Therefore, it is vital to watch for signs. If a loved one appears restless or irritable, it is essential to intervene. In fact, reminding a loved one about the best ways to deal with temptations can prevent the urge to misuse drugs.

Work With a Trusted Treatment Center in Woodland Hills, CA

At Harmony Place, we offer a safe environment in Woodland Hills for people who have been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, including ADHD and substance abuse. Dealing with these types of issues is extremely challenging. Without assistance, sobriety is nearly impossible.

Thanks to our numerous therapy options, we make it easier to deal with a dual diagnosis and to manage symptoms of ADHD. Also, we help individuals identify triggers and modify responses during recovery. In the end, we try to help people return to healthier and more functional lives without dependence on drugs or alcohol. For more information, contact us today.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4414493/ 

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Substance-Use-Disorders