The impact of methamphetamine use on individuals with ADHD is a topic that warrants deeper exploration. Methamphetamine, a highly addictive substance, can have intense effects on both the physical and mental well-being of those who use it. When combined with the challenges already faced by individuals with ADHD, the consequences can be particularly severe. By understanding this impact, individuals can see the prevalence of not using substances like meth to self-medicate their ADHD.
In this article, we will discuss what ADHD and methamphetamine are, what meth can do to someone with ADHD, and the relationship between ADHD and substance abuse.
What is ADHD?
ADHD, also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. ADHD is typically noticed in children and can last into adulthood. This disorder is categorized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity patterns that can affect an individual’s quality of life. According to a study published by the Journal of Global Health, 366.33 million adults were affected by ADHD worldwide in 2020.
ADHD in Adults
Since ADHD is not just a childhood disorder, it’s essential to take a look at how ADHD can affect adults. In many cases, adults have never been diagnosed with ADHD, as the symptoms may decrease over time. Adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD may find that they experience some ADHD symptoms that include:
- Struggles with organization and time management
- Feeling restless or impatient
- Unable to pay attention or focus on tasks
- Difficulty maintaining a job
- Decreased self-esteem and self-image
- Isolation from peers or family
- Engaging in risk-taking behaviors
- Substance abuse or addiction
Read more here to continue learning about ADHD in adults.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crank, or ice, is a highly addictive and potent stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine is in the amphetamine family, making it chemically similar to other prescription stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin or Adderall. However, methamphetamine is Schedule II controlled substance and is an illicit drug, resulting in the drug being distributed illegally and causing widespread drug abuse and addiction.
Methamphetamine increases the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, in the brain. This leads to a surge of these neurotransmitters, resulting in increased alertness, euphoria, and heightened energy levels. However, prolonged methamphetamine use results in life-threatening side effects.
Side Effects of Methamphetamine Use
Due to the widespread drug use of methamphetamine, it’s essential to be aware of the side effects of using methamphetamine. Methamphetamine users have reported side effects such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Decreased appetite resulting in weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Impaired cognitive function
- Severe dental problems
- Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, and schizophrenia
What Does Meth Do to Someone Who Has ADHD?
Due to meth’s stimulating effects on the body, when individuals with ADHD use meth, these effects can interact with the existing neurobiological vulnerabilities. If someone with ADHD uses methamphetamine, it will exacerbate these symptoms, leading to dangerous consequences. Meth’s effects on dopamine, in particular, can alleviate some symptoms of ADHD initially, causing many individuals to believe meth use makes them feel better. However, these effects are typically short-lived and long-term use of meth will lead to greater ADHD-related impairments.
As stated previously, the combination of meth and ADHD can exacerbate symptoms and increase the risk of drug addiction, and lead to more severe physical and mental health problems. It’s crucial to understand the impacts of meth use on those with ADHD, and these impacts can include:
- Increase in ADHD Symptoms: Meth use can worsen symptoms of ADHD, including increased impulsivity, heightened restlessness, hyperactivity, and worsened attention and focus. It also intensifies impulsive behaviors, exacerbates restlessness and hyperactivity, and impairs attention and focus, making it more challenging for individuals with ADHD to control their actions and make sound decisions, interfering with their daily life.
- Higher Risk of Addiction: Individuals with ADHD who use meth can cause an enhanced activation of the brain’s reward system, resulting in a surge of dopamine and intense feelings of pleasure. This heightened reward response increases the risk of addiction, as individuals with ADHD may be more prone to seeking the drug’s pleasurable effects as a form of self-medication. These individuals may develop tolerance more rapidly, necessitating higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This increase in tolerance can lead to dependence and addiction at a quicker pace compared to those without ADHD.
- Mental Health Conditions: As stated previously, meth can have severe consequences on an individual’s mental health. Meth can worsen anxiety and paranoia, which can be especially concerning for individuals with ADHD who already experience anxiety symptoms. There is an increased risk of developing psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoid thinking, when using meth. Additionally, meth can worsen mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder in individuals with ADHD, resulting in more intense mood swings, heightened irritability, and emotional instability.
Why Are People with ADHD Prone to Meth Addiction?
Individuals with ADHD have lower dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward, compared to those without ADHD. This dopamine deficiency can create a vulnerability to meth addiction as individuals seek to compensate for the lower dopamine levels. Particularly among young adults with ADHD, there is a desire to experience a sense of calm, leading to a constant craving to use meth.
The intense hyperactivity experienced by individuals with ADHD can be physically and mentally draining, and the calming and focusing effects of meth may be seen as a solution to escape these exhausting symptoms. However, relying on meth instead of pursuing productive routines can lead to the development of addiction.
The Relation Between ADHD and Substance Use Disorders
The correlation between ADHD and substance use disorders, or SUDs, is complex but undeniable. As difficulties with self-control and impulsivity characterize both ADHD and SUDs, there is a higher risk of developing both disorders.
This higher risk emphasizes the importance of individuals with ADHD being aware of their heightened vulnerability, effectively managing their symptoms, and utilizing available tools to reduce the risk of SUDs. Several factors contribute to this. Firstly, the impulsive nature associated with ADHD makes it challenging to resist impulsive and risky behaviors, including the use of drugs or alcohol. Secondly, individuals with ADHD often struggle with planning and decision-making, further compromising their ability to make sound choices. By understanding these factors, individuals with ADHD can take proactive steps to minimize the risk of developing a SUD and enhance their overall well-being.
Early identification of ADHD, along with addiction treatment strategies such as medication, therapy, and behavioral interventions, can help individuals better cope with their symptoms and reduce the likelihood of turning to substance abuse.
Continue reading to learn about ADHD tools to treat substance abuse.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Los Angeles, CA
Suffering from two different disorders can be overwhelming, and you may not know how to get help. When dealing with co-occurring disorders, it’s vital to ensure you are receiving treatment that manages symptoms of both conditions. Dual diagnosis treatment is one way to accomplish this.
At Launch Centers, located in Los Angeles, CA, we offer comprehensive and individualized treatment options to those struggling with mental health conditions and substance abuse. Our treatment center provides a variety of therapies, programs, and healing modalities to ensure we can treat all of our client’s unique needs. Our programs feature inpatient, outpatient, and detox rehabilitation to fit into any schedule.
If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, substance abuse, or mental disorders, contact us today to learn more about our programs. Launch Centers is here for you.