One of the most difficult parts of committing to a lifelong abstinence from all mood and mind-altering substances comes when you happen to be afflicted with a mental or behavioral disorder that is treated exclusively with mood or mind-altering drugs. Attention Deficit Disorder, known widely as ADD, is one such disorder.
What is Attention Deficit Disorder?
Attention Deficit Disorder is a disorder that is most frequently detected and diagnosed during childhood. ADD is displayed by problems with hyperactivity, attentiveness, and difficulty controlling impulses. The disorder is currently classified as a developmental disorder, seeing as it has the potential to stunt the development of young children if not properly diagnosed and treated. Symptoms are typically noticeable by age 7, and ADD is 4 times more likely to affect males than females. While researchers are still unsure of the primary cause of ADD, there are several theories as to what may bring on the disruptive disorder, including abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex of the brain or in levels of the neurotransmitters noradrenalin and dopamine.
Those who have been diagnosed in childhood with attention deficit disorder are far more likely to suffer from substance dependency later on in life. In fact, alcoholics are 10 times more likely to be simultaneously afflicted with ADD than non-alcoholics. Most adolescents who are diagnosed with ADD are prescribed a stimulant, such as Ritalin. Adolescents who are prescribed Ritalin may not take it based on a desire to feel the way they feel while they are not medicated – full of energy, hyper-alert, and impulsive. However, many young adults or grown adults who are not prescribed a medication to help treat their ADD, or who simply do not take the medications they are prescribed, will frequently turn to drugs and alcohol in attempts to self-medicate.
Treating ADD in Addiction Recovery
Once one has gotten sober, the symptoms of attention deficit disorder will likely become apparent. The issue with treating ADD in addiction recovery is that Ritalin (Adderall, Vyvanse) is a powerful stimulant, and a highly addictive prescription medication. Addicts and alcoholics who suffer from attention deficit disorder will likely be prescribed a non-stimulant form of medication, though many addicts chose to simply live with their symptoms – as long as they do not interfere with their recovery. For those afflicted with severe cases of ADD, it may be difficult to sit still and attentively through an hour-long AA meeting. In this case, medication may be necessary. There are other practices that may help alleviate symptoms as well, such as yoga, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy.