How Do Drugs Affect ADHD?

ADHD is a common problem that affects millions of people in America today. It’s estimated that about 5% of children and 1-2% of adults have some form of this disorder.

How Do Drugs Affect ADHD?

The symptoms are very similar to those of substance abuse.

Substance use and addiction can also be used as an attempt to self-medicate for ADHD symptoms.

In fact, many kids with ADHD turn to drugs and alcohol to help them focus and calm down.

However, drug and alcohol dependence often leads to other issues such as depression and anxiety.

There are several types of medications used to treat ADHD, but all of these medications come with side effects.

Some of the more commonly prescribed drugs include:

•Methylphenidate (Ritalin) – This is one of the most widely prescribed stimulants for treating ADHD. It works by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Side effects include stomach upset, loss of appetite, insomnia, and headaches.

•Amphetamine (Adderall) – This medication increases both dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Amphetamines also increase blood pressure and heart rate. Adderall has been linked to long term health issues, including liver damage.

•Dexedrine – Dexedrine is another popular stimulant. It acts on the same receptors as amphetamines, but it doesn’t cause the same cardiovascular changes. It comes in a variety of different forms including pills, liquids, and patches.

•Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) – Lisdexamfetamine is a combination of dextroamphetamine and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). It was approved by the FDA in 2010. It helps improve attention span and concentration. Common side effects include nausea, dry mouth, increased appetite, and headache.

•Clonidine – Clonidine is a prescription drug that reduces catecholamine activity. It’s most commonly used to reduce high blood pressure or tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. It may also be helpful in reducing ADHD symptoms.

•Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – SSRIs are a class of antidepressant drugs that target the neurotransmitter serotonin. They are usually effective at relieving symptoms of major depression. There is evidence suggesting that they may also be useful in treating ADHD.

•Other drugs – Other drugs that have been shown to be effective in treating ADHD include guanfacine (Intuniv), bupropion (Wellbutrin), and methylphenidate (Concerta). Each of these drugs has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

What Are The Symptoms Of ADHD?

The exact number of people who suffer from ADHD is unknown. Many experts believe there are about 3 million children and adults living with this disorder.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the following are some common signs of ADHD:

•Fidgeting or squirming when sitting still

•Difficulty paying attention

•Being easily distracted

•Having trouble concentrating

•Poor impulse control

•Problems finishing tasks

•Sleeping too much or too little

•Talking excessively.

What Drugs Should You Avoid When You Have ADHD?

There are many medications that can help you manage your ADHD. However, there are several drugs that should be avoided if possible.

Some of these drugs include:

•Cocaine – Cocaine is a stimulant that is often abused. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which makes it dangerous to use. Cocaine also causes mood instability which can exacerbate the dysregulation symptoms that are associated with ADHD. 

•AlcoholAlcohol can make ADHD worse. In fact, alcohol withdrawal can trigger ADHD symptoms. If you drink alcohol regularly, talk to your doctor before stopping as you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop without assistance.

•Valproate (Depakote) – Valproate is an anticonvulsant drug used to treat epilepsy. It can cause drowsiness, mood swings, and nausea.

•Opiates – Opiates such as codeine and morphine are painkillers that can be addictive. They can also cause sedation and constipation.

•Lithium – Lithium is a medication used to treat bipolar disorders. It can cause tremors, confusion, and fatigue in those with ADHD.

•Antihistamines – Antihistamines can cause dry mouth, blurred vision, and drowsiness. These drugs are commonly used for allergies, but can mask ADHD symptoms as opposed to treating them properly.

•Barbiturates – Barbiturates are sedatives that can cause drowsiness and muscle weakness. They are often prescribed for anxiety and panic attacks. Experiencing memory loss can be extremely frustrating for someone with ADHD. 

•Benzodiazepines – Benzodiazepines are tranquillizers that can cause drowsiness and memory loss. They are typically prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. However, these drugs can lead to addiction in those with ADHD.

•Stimulants – Stimulants like amphetamine and methamphetamine are illegal street drugs that can cause high energy levels, increased appetite, and sleeplessness. These drugs exacerbate pre-existing symptoms of ADHD and lead to vast mood fluctuations that can be incredibly dangerous. 

Why Do So Many Addicts Have ADHD?

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, you may wonder why so many people who abuse drugs have this disorder.

There are two reasons why this happens. First, some people think they need to take drugs to feel normal.

Second, some people have a genetic predisposition to become addicted to certain substances.

The first reason is easy to understand. People who do drugs believe that they will get high. This belief causes them to want more and more drugs.

The second reason is less obvious. Scientists don’t know exactly what genes control addiction.

However, there is evidence that suggests that some people are genetically predisposed to develop addictions.

For example, people who have family members who suffer from alcoholism or other substance abuse tend to be at higher risk of developing these disorders themselves.

What Are Some Signs That You May Be At Risk Of Addiction?

How Do Drugs Affect ADHD?

There are several signs that you might be at risk of becoming addicted to drugs. Here are three warning signs:

1. You start using drugs even though you know it could harm you.

2. Your friends or relatives tell you that you seem to spend too much time on drugs.

3. You find yourself spending money on drugs instead of buying food or paying bills.

If any of the above situations apply to you, you should seek help immediately.

ADHD & Addiction: Statistics

Approximately 25% of adults who attend rehab or a treatment center for addiction will also have a diagnosis of ADHD.

However, many addicts will have undiagnosed ADHD and will therefore be unaware that it is their ADHD that is fuelling their addiction.

This is most common amongst women and girls as ADHD is stereotypically viewed as being a male-illness and thus, many women struggle whilst trying to manage their symptoms and addictive behaviors simultaneously. 


To conclude, whilst some drugs can impact ADHD positively through means of medication, illegal drugs and alcohol tend to have a negative effect on ADHD symptoms.

This is because drugs affect brain chemistry and alter the dopamine levels that are already defective in people with ADHD.
Tom Anderson