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Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are brain disorders that typically present in childhood. However, adults can continue to struggle with the condition, especially if it wasn’t diagnosed or treated correctly during the younger years. The symptoms that often accompany these conditions, such as impulsivity and difficulty focusing, can present challenges to adults in their professional and personal relationships. Their presence can also lead to low self-esteem, even in professionals that have achieved success in their academic pursuits and careers. Fortunately, treatment modalities are available that can help individuals manage their symptoms and obtain a higher quality of life. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that around nine percent of children and four percent of adults have ADD/ADHD.

What is ADD/ADHD?

ADD/ADHD is a disorder that usually encompasses three primary components:

  • Inattention – People with these disorders have difficulty paying attention and focusing on tasks. This inattention often leads to chronic disorganization and challenges in completing assignments and jobs.
  • Hyperactivity – ADHD is often characterized by an inability to sit still and a constant need for movement. Sufferers might constantly talk or become fidgety in situations that call for long periods of inactivity.
  • Impulsivity – A person with ADD or ADHD may make quick decisions without thinking about the consequences. This can increase the chances of harm associated with actions or put the individual in a poor light with others that don’t understand the impulsive behavior.

Although children typically present with all three elements of ADHD, adults may be diagnosed with ADD since they do not usually struggle with the hyperactivity aspect. While everyone tends to exhibit some of these behaviors at one time or another, for people struggling with ADD/ADHD, the battle is constant. The impact on one’s life can be significant, affecting every aspect.

Risk Factors for ADD/ADHD

Like other mental illnesses, ADD/ADHD appears to have a genetic component. This means that if a parent or sibling is diagnosed with the disorder, you are more likely to have it as well. Other risk factors might include:

  • Mother who smoked or drank during her pregnancy
  • Exposure to environmental toxins like lead during early childhood
  • Born prematurely or low birthweight
  • Brain injury, specifically to the area that controls attention

Symptoms of ADD

Symptoms associated with ADD can also be broken down into the two components that usually make up this disorder in adults. Not every person will exhibit the elements equally, although some will have symptoms from both categories.

Symptoms of inattention might include:

  • Easily distracted
  • Inability to stay with one activity at a time
  • Difficulty completing a task
  • Challenges in following directions accurately
  • A wandering mind, frequent daydreaming
  • Constantly losing or misplacing objects

Symptoms of impulsivity might encompass the following:

  • Talking out, interrupting others
  • Challenges in waiting for turns
  • Impatience with others
  • Acting out inappropriately

ADD/ADHD and Substance Abuse

There is a strong correlation between an ADD/ADHD diagnosis and substance abuse and addiction. WebMD reports that ADD is five to 10 times more prevalent in adults that abuse alcohol than in people without a substance abuse disorder. At the same time, as many as 25 percent of people seeking treatment for substance abuse may also have an ADD diagnosis. Teens and young adults are also more likely to use and abuse substances when ADD/ADHD is present; research has shown.

Treatment Options

ADD and ADHD are usually treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Treatment modalities might also include training in organization skills to assist those with the conditions remember appointments and deadlines. If substance abuse is also present, treatment for a co-occurring disorder will entail addressing both disorders simultaneously to improve the odds of successful recovery.

The Center for Professional Recovery understands the toll ADD can take on professionals in high-pressure industries like medicine and law. Using drugs and alcohol as a means of coping is a common decision, but the substance often becomes a part of the problem rather than a solution. We will work with you to address both disorders to help you achieve long-term recovery and restore your career standing when appropriate. To find out more about our treatment program, contact the Center for Professional Recovery today at 866.298.0056.

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