The Connection Between Addiction and ADHD

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Many people experience ADHD and addiction separately, but several of them do not. Instead, approximately 15% of those with ADHD also abuse or are dependent on drugs or alcohol, making this one of the most common co-occurring disorders. But before we get into ADHD and addiction as a pair, let’s talk about ADHD. 

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a behavior disorder that is characterized by hyperactive behavior, inability to pay attention or focus, and impulsivity. ADHD is most noticeable in children because they may experience difficulty focusing in school and at home. In addition, they experience problems keeping their impulses under control and being unable to manage their hyperactivity. These symptoms stick out like sore thumbs in children, especially because adults are more versed in managing their behaviors. 

Some of the most common symptoms associated with ADHD in children include:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Problems finishing tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequently losing or misplacing things
  • Constant fidgeting
  • Problems listening to others 
  • Inability to control speech or actions
  • Troubles with organizing projects 
  • Difficulty managing responsibilities 

For someone with ADHD, life can feel constantly chaotic and out of control. Even in the smallest of children with this behavior disorder, their lives may feel overwhelming to them. It is no secret that ADHD is one of the most challenging behavior disorders a person can have. Regardless of age, though, ADHD can be difficult to learn how to manage independently.

Statistics of ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common behavioral disorder that is most prevalent in school-aged children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 11% of children in America have ADHD. Surveys show that 2.4% of children between ages 2 and 5 have been diagnosed with ADHD. In addition, 9.6% of children diagnosed with ADHD are between the ages of 6 and 11. The average median age for the onset of symptoms of ADHD is six years old.

While ADHD is certainly more common in children than in adults, that does not mean that adults cannot be diagnosed with this behavioral disorder. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that the overall rate of ADHD in adults is 4.4% of the population. 

What is also more common in adults than in children is the disease of addiction. More than 21 million people in the United States are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Alcohol is the most widely abused substance across the board, while street drugs like heroin and meth follow close behind. The prescription drug crisis facing the country has more adults than ever before abusing medications like OxyContin, Ativan, Vicodin, and even the ADHD medication Adderall. 

How are ADHD and Addiction Connected?

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain that is characterized by the continued, uncontrollable abuse of mind-altering substances despite the damages the use causes. As mentioned before, more than 21 million Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol. For every addict or alcoholic, there is a story behind the development of their addiction. And for some, that story is closely linked to ADHD. 

People who have a mental illness, disability, or disorder are oftentimes at greater risk for abusing drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives. So, it comes as no surprise that individuals with ADHD have a higher risk factor for becoming addicts or alcoholics than those individuals who do not have this or other disorders. Why is this? Consider the following:


Impulsivity is one of the top symptoms of ADHD. Those with ADHD tend to be reactionary and many times do not favor the idea of thinking about doing something prior to doing it. People who are impulsive, regardless of if they have ADHD or not, are more likely to experiment and abuse drugs and alcohol because of their difficulty with thinking their actions through prior to engaging in them.

Problems slowing down

Just because people with ADHD may appear to not be bothered by running a mile a minute does not mean that it doesn’t upset them. A major downside of ADHD is that those who have it may feel trapped by their symptoms. Meanwhile, they may want to be less hyperactive or impulsive. When this is the case, a person may look to alcohol or drugs to help self-medicate their symptoms to reflect what it is that they want for themselves. The longer that this type of self-medication occurs, the more likely it becomes for a person to become fully addicted to the substances they are using. 

Interpersonal problems

People with ADHD often experience symptoms such as forgetfulness, misplacing things, and trouble listening to others. This can make developing and maintaining healthy relationships extremely difficult. The emotional pain, discomfort, and guilt that a person with ADHD can feel because of these symptoms can cause them to isolate from others and become lonely and sad. This is a perfect storm for substance abuse, as the idea of being able to take away the pain with a pill or a drink becomes more and more appealing. 

Having ADHD and an addiction at the same time can make the symptoms of both conditions much worse. Depending on the substance that a person is abusing, they can easily begin developing mood swings, symptoms of anxiety, and physical health problems like gastrointestinal issues. Those symptoms will exacerbate the symptoms of the ADHD, creating a never-ending cycle of unmanaged symptoms and substance abuse.

ADHD and Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles, CA

If you are struggling with and addiction and a condition like ADHD, call us right now. We understand the challenges that you are experiencing and know that we can help you begin recovery. Contact us now to learn more about how we can help you cope with the symptoms of ADHD in ways that foster a healthy, sober life. Our team is ready and willing to answer any questions you may have.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

treatment team los angeles ca

Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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