The Impact of ADHD Symptoms on Relapse Risk and Recovery

Understanding ADHDRelapse Prevention

Kelsea Wulff on February 26, 2024 at 9:41 AM

The Impact of ADHD Symptoms on Relapse Risk and Recovery Progression

By Hiba Berry

With so little time and the stressors of daily life, more and more people are forgetting to take care of themselves mentally, leading to certain mental health problems. The worst thing about psychiatric issues is that they often go undiagnosed and untreated. This may be partly to blame for their connection to other behavioral issues. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for example, is often linked to substance abuse disorders despite them typically being seen as totally separate. Many also seem to believe that there is a significant impact of ADHD symptoms on relapse risk and recovery progression on those undergoing treatment for SUDs. But how much truth is there to this, really? Let's explore!

Understanding ADHD

ADHD is a neurological disorder characterized by a consistent lack of focus, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity. People with it typically have a hard time functioning in many areas of life. They may have trouble keeping track of their tasks and controlling their emotions. As a result, they may experience problems at school and at work, for sure, but also in social settings.

Since the precise cause of ADHD is still unknown, discussing its origins is tricky. Most people think that a combination of hereditary, environmental, and neurological variables determines the likelihood of a problem developing, however. Medication and behavioral therapy are the cornerstones of treatment, with the latter aiming to provide individuals (often children) with the skills necessary for daily functioning.

ADHD Symptom Relief

Finding relief from ADHD symptoms is very important for individuals wanting to regain control over their lives. One way to actually relieve adverse symptoms is through medication, typically Adderall and Vyvanse. Both drugs belong to the group of stimulants, which means they increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, resulting in improved cognitive functions and attention. However, they differ in formula and the duration of effects.

For instance:

  • Adderall has amphetamine and dextroamphetamine as active ingredients. Its effects typically last for around 4 or 6 hours.
  • One of the prodrugs found in Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine, which gets converted into dextroamphetamine once ingested. Thanks to its long-release formulae, its effects can last for up to 12 hours. Since Vyvanse contains a prodrug that must be activated by enzymes found in the human body, the chances of it being misused are lower.

It's important to mention that neither of these drugs should be taken without the actual need for them. If they have been prescribed to you, though, you could have certain questions surrounding the dosage, potential side effects, and more. The answers to these lie in the Adderall vs Vyvanse guide, which you are encouraged to go through, all while remaining in touch with your doctor. In doing so, you can understand your condition better, including how it's managed.

A Correlation Between ADHD Symptoms and SUDs

People with an ADHD diagnosis are more likely to acquire a substance use disorder (SUD), according to the Cannabis Youth Treatment (CYT) research. Common physiological factors, such as abnormalities in the dopamine circuits that regulate impulse control and reward processing, contribute to this increased susceptibility.

Addiction tends to occur early in the development of ADHD symptoms, as affected individuals begin to self-medicate just so they can get through the day. Over time, they began increasing the dosage, leading to a substance abuse problem that becomes difficult to shake.

The Impact of ADHD Symptoms on Relapse Risk and Recovery Progression

Now that we have explained the connection between ADHD and SUDs, it's time we explored just how the former can impact the recovery of the latter.

Impaired Executive Functioning

The ability to make sound decisions, rein in impulsive behaviors, and take deliberate, goal-oriented actions is known as executive functioning. In people with ADHD, executive functioning is impaired, making it challenging to plan and organize their tasks but also keep their behavior in check. These problems might make it more difficult to manage stress and adhere to treatment plans, increasing the likelihood of relapse.

Emotional Dysregulation

ADHD is characterized by emotional dysregulation, which includes major shifts in mood, heightened irritability, and trouble dealing with stress. If these symptoms aren't properly managed, individuals suffering from this condition could experience severe distress, which may prompt them to turn to drugs, especially if they have a history of previous substance abuse. This increased emotional turmoil makes relapse more likely in such people, which also makes it much harder to stay sober in the long run.


Impulsivity, often synonymous with ADHD, plays a huge role in relapse risk. Individuals with ADHD are prone to acting on immediate impulses without considering the consequences, leading to impulsive decision-making regarding drug use. This impulsivity makes it difficult to resist the temptation of substance use, especially during vulnerable moments in the recovery process.

Cognitive Distortions

ADHD-related cognitive errors, like thinking in black and white and having trouble judging risks, can lead to skewed views on drug use and recovery. People may not realize how bad their drug use is or think that relapsing is just a brief setback, which makes them less likely to stay sober. Dealing with these false beliefs is important for getting a true picture of the difficulties of recovery and building up your resistance to things that could lead to relapse.

Treating ADHD and SUDs Simultaneously

Recognizing the profound impact of ADHD symptoms on relapse risk underscores the importance of integrating comprehensive treatment strategies that address both disorders simultaneously. Here are key approaches to consider:

  1. Diagnosis is the initial stage in addressing these two conditions. As a result, a comprehensive evaluation is required to detect co-occurrence initially. After a diagnosis, the best course of treatment is to employ tried-and-true methods. These can be medication and behavioral therapies that target ADHD symptoms.
  2. Programs that focus on improving executive functioning, emotion management, and impulse control are very helpful for people with ADHD, mainly because they give them the tools they need to deal with the challenges ahead.
  3. Teaching individuals healthy coping mechanisms through mindfulness therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, for instance, makes it easier for them to deal with situations that make them want to jump on the wagon of addiction.
  4. To stay clean, individuals prone to SUDs require ongoing help and monitoring. Setting up regular follow-up visits, joining peer support groups, and using contingency management interventions all help those with ADHD stay clear of drugs when things get tough.

The Impact of ADHD Symptoms on Relapse Risk Doesn't Mean You Are Doomed!

Although the impact of ADHD symptoms on relapse risk in those with SUDs exists, how much of an influence it actually has on someone's recovery depends on multiple factors. No person has the same symptoms, and no one is treated in the same way. So, if you or your loved one is suffering from ADHD and have resorted to drugs before, that doesn't mean you'll go back to substance abuse at one point. Many forms of treatment are there to support your joint recovery and help you stay sober for years to come!

keyword: ADHD symptoms on relapse risk

Author: Hiba Berry


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