ADHD And Substance Abuse

A team of psychologists hailing from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of South Carolina together set out to examine existing evidence in order to discover the ramifications of living long-term with ADHD.

The researchers sifted through no less than 27 extensive studies which tracked more than 4,000 kids with ADHD and almost 7,000 kids without the diagnosis. The data included in the studies stretched across a period of approximately 10 years.

After examining and analyzing these long-term results, researchers concluded that for persons with ADHD, the likelihood that they will experience serious drug abuse in young adulthood and onward is roughly three times as great as it is for people without the condition.

Today, in the U.S. and in other Western countries, somewhere between 5-10% of children receive a diagnosis of ADHD. In order to be diagnosed with the condition, health experts look for kids to exhibit six of nine inattentive and/or hyperactive impulsive symptoms. Some of the symptoms healthcare professionals look for are:

  • Non-goal-oriented movement
  • A child who is frequently bored and is readily distracted
  • An inability to complete assigned tasks.

Teens may experience ADHD at one of three levels. At its most extreme, ADHD can markedly impair a child’s socialization and academic performance. Other teens experience only moderate impairment in these areas while for others the impact is negligible.

Impulsivity is a common problem for kids with ADHD. While it has been customary to blame the stimulants used to treat ADHD for subsequent abuse problems, the National Institutes of Health argues that issues of self-image are more likely to underlie later addictions. Kids with AHDH often struggle with a lack of self-confidence and have a low self-image.

Impulsiveness leads these kids to quickly reach for anything that will erase these negative feelings. Getting the proper mind-set about self can help kids to avoid the danger of substance abuse. Here are a few ways to turn around the negative self-talk:

  • Think of yourself as an intelligent and capable individual. Refuse to make the assumption that you cannot do something and be quick to acknowledge the benefits you earn through hard work.
  • When things go wrong, don’t overreact. Things often do not follow the plans we make — this is normal for everyone. When things go right it is worth celebrating and when they don’t, refuse to beat yourself up about it.
  • React to painful situations slowly. Anger may be your initial response to a personal failure, but don’t give in to it and definitely don’t stay there. Quickly look for positive solutions to the present failure, then feel good about your ability to problem-solve.
  • Journal your successes. It is far too easy to get lost in the negative self-talk so keep a record of resolved problems and personal successes and even compliments paid to you. When you catch yourself focusing on your failures, pull out the journal and remind yourself of the number of successes you have enjoyed.

The quantity of research upon which the team’s results are based make their findings compelling, but persons with ADHD are not doomed to bad choices and future failures. Learning techniques for controlling impulses and directing thoughts into a positive stream can lead anyone into a more successful path.

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