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The Common Link Between ADHD and Substance Abuse

August 22, 2014

The Common Link Between ADHD and Substance Abuse

Is your teen more likely to have a substance abuse problem if they have ADHD? If you’re a parent with a teen who has ADHD, it’s an understandable concern. While many teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder don’t develop a substance abuse problem, there is a common link between the two.

 Proven studies have shown that children with ADHD are more than twice as likely to abuse drugs than children without the disorder. In one study, about 35 percent of teens with ADHD averaging the age of 15 years old have abused at least one or more addictive substances.   

So What’s the Connection?

Genetics. It’s been proven that genetics play a crucial role in the link between ADHD and addiction; however, there isn’t one specific gene that causes one or the other to occur.  

You may have also noticed that symptoms from ADHD play a huge factor in teens deciding to experiment with drugs. If your teen is struggling with behavioral problems with family or in school, they might be more likely to turn to drugs to escape their stress and anxiety.  

It’s common for teens with ADHD to turn to addictive substances such as nicotine, marijuana, and alcohol to control their restlessness. This experimentation with drugs can lead to abuse and eventually addiction to other drugs.  

Does Medication Play a Role?

You may think that common ADHD medications like Ritalin could increase the chances your teen will get addicted to medication and other drugs, but it’s unlikely.  

While there is potential for abuse of these stimulants, the prescribed medical doses of Ritalin tend to have a lower and longer reaction time; therefore, they often reduce the risk of addiction.  

However, effective therapy for teens with ADHD can reduce the chances your teen will abuse their medication and other illegal substances. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectal behavioral therapy will help your teen better manage stress, anxiety and any other symptoms from their ADHD.  

Effective Treatment

If your teen is experimenting with drugs or alcohol to cope with their ADHD, they can recover with evidenced-based treatment. A program that helps your teen find healthier alternatives to manage stress, anxiety, and social issues is the best effective treatment method.  

At Teen Treatment Center, we provide treatment for co-occurring disorders such as ADHD and substance use disorders. If your teen is struggling with their ADHD and substance abuse, our licensed therapists have decades of experience treating both co-occurring disorders.  

To get help for your teen today and to find out more about our services, call our admissions counselors at (844) 319-5239.. We are always available for a confidential chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


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