Neurodiversity and Addiction: Is There a Connection?

Why this resource is helpful:

Quoted From:

"Have you seen the popular ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) content trending on TikTok recently? Perhaps you"ve heard that so many people recently diagnosed with ADHD are being prescribed stimulant medication that we"re facing an Adderall shortage in the United States.
It"s 100% true that we"re diagnosing more people with ADHD and ASD now than ever before.
Neurodiversity is, scientifically speaking, trending.
Another big diagnostic trend in the medical community? Addiction. Diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder, along with ASD and ADHD have absolutely skyrocketed in the past few years.
Is there a link between SUD, ASD and/or ADHD? How do these various conditions interact? Are neurodivergent people more likely to suffer from SUD and, if so, why?
Today we will look at the interactions between these conditions and look at what we know about neurodivergence and effective treatment for addiction.
While there are a lot of studies yet to be done on the subject, we do know for certain that neurodivergent people have a much higher risk of developing SUD than neurotypical people.
It"s well documented that ADHD and addiction often co-occur in patients. One in two people diagnosed with ADHD will also receive a SUD diagnosis in their lifetime. When compared with the general population, people with Alcohol Use Disorder, in particular, are five or ten times more likely to also have ADHD. Over the course of treatment, 25% of all SUD patients also receive an ADHD diagnosis.
While there are many biological, psychological and sociological causes for addiction, both autistic people and ADHDers are more likely to report that they first turned to addictive substances in an effort to self-medicate for some of the more troubling symptoms of their neurodivergence.
This self-medicating behavior often plays out in a number of ways:
Both ADHD and ASD have very high rates of co-occurring mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety. Those conditions alone frequently cause patients to self-medicate.
Both ADHD and ASD are associated with various forms of executive dysfunction, which can make it difficult to regulate emotions, successfully navigate close relationships, and easily navigate complex work and school environments.
Both conditions can cause sensory issues for patients that can easily contribute to feelings of discomfort and overwhelm in everyday settings.
Both conditions are under-supported and under-funded in the United States. Low levels of awareness, education and advocacy means that people with both conditions struggle to get appropriate treatment from clinicians and appropriate accommodation at work and school. This added burden can make self-medicating more appealing.

Search Mental Health Providers Find Similar Resources