Is There A Correlation Between ADHD And Cocaine Use?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a mental health condition characterized by distraction, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The high quality of impulsivity and restlessness is a risk factor for developing a substance use disorder later on in life. Many adults and young people with a substance use disorder are diagnosed with ADHD when they are admitted for treatment. Never having been diagnosed or treated for the condition before, their treatment for addiction tends to have greater success as treating the ADHD significantly influences recovery from addiction.

A new study from researchers in Brazil looked at the connections between ADHD and addiction in patients currently in treatment. Important factors included in the analysis were:

  • How frequently drugs were abused
  • How severely drugs were abused
  • How dependent upon drugs and individual became
  • The age of their first admission to treatment
  • The age of when they begin to use drugs

Interestingly, by way of numbers there was no difference in drug dependency among the participants who either did or did not have ADHD. However, some of the findings were notable for the risk ADHD provides for future substance abuse:

  • Participants with ADHD first used cocaine and other cocaine-related drugs at a younger age than those without ADHD
  • Participants with ADHD were admitted to treatment at a younger age than those without ADHD
  • Participants with ADHD who used cannabis at a younger age had more significant problems with cocaine later on

Cocaine is a stimulant amphetamine drug, which closely resembles many of the stimulant drugs prescribed to treat ADHD. Creating high amounts of hyperfocus, energy to stay awake, and impulsive behaviors fit the characteristics of ADHD too well. One of the reasons researchers believe people with ADHD might be more prone to entering treatment at an earlier age is because they use cocaine at an earlier age. Whether or not their use of cocaine was habitual or occasional had little to do with the fact that dependency on cocaine or other drugs became a problem. A highly addictive drug, first experimenting with cocaine can prime the brain to be vulnerable to other drugs, needing to chase a high greater than that provided by cocaine.

Dual diagnosis treatment for ADHD and cocaine use disorder is essential for total healing and lifelong recovery. Avalon By The Sea houses two primary care facilities, for mental health and for substance use disorders. Our dual diagnosis treatment programs are unparalleled in their excellence and trusted results. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call us today at 888-958-7511.

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