ADHD and Substance Abuse

January 25, 2011

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Though I like to focus on the strengths that come with ADHD, the reality is I wouldn’t be blogging if it was always smooth sailing, now would I? I promised to be real on here and the reality is that anyone living with ADHD knows that the condition comes with a fair number of challenges.

One of them is substance abuse and the statistics are staggering. It is said that between 30-50% of those living with ADHD will try drugs or alcohol in the hopes of improving their abilities, numbing their fears, decreasing their anxiety, and coping with painful issues and past traumas. Self-medicating may seem like a good idea in the short-term, but in the long-term it will result in a host of other addiction-related problems.

Wendy Richardson MA, MFCC, CAS, author of the best-selling book The Link Between ADD and Addiction explains, “The problem is that self-medicating works at first. It provides the person with ADHD relief from their restless bodies and brains. For some, drugs such as nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, diet pills and “speed” enable them to focus, think clearly, and follow through with ideas and tasks. Others chose to soothe their ADHD symptoms with alcohol and marijuana.

People who abuse substances, or have a history of substance abuse are not “bad” people. They are people who desperately attempt to self-medicate their feelings, and ADHD symptoms. Self-medicating can feel comforting. The problem is, that self-medicating brings on a host of addiction related problem which over time make people’s lives much more difficult.

What starts out as a “solution”, can cause problems including addiction, impulsive crimes, domestic violence, increased high risk behaviors, lost jobs, relationships, families, and death. Self-medicating ADD with alcohol and other drugs is like putting out fires with gasoline.”

That last part has been stuck with me since the first time I read it in her book. It makes so much sense to those of us on the outside, looking in. It is so easy to see clearly when you aren’t the one affected. It isn’t that simple for the addict though.

They can’t see what we see. Addiction is a disease that fools even the addict. It sits on their shoulder and tells them whatever they want to hear. It blocks out the ugliness they can’t deal with by covering everything with darkness, until they feel nothing. Their families and friends struggle to reach them and pull them back into the light but it’s never easy for either side. The brightness can be too harsh and the pain too much to fight with only good intentions. And so the struggle continues.

It doesn’t have to be a losing battle though. So many have overcome addictions using treatment plans that include medical interventions, therapy, 12-step programs and the support of the friends and families. There are so many inspiring stories out there and so much support to be found in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, from people who’ve been there and survived to tell about it.

So, where do you start if you or someone you love suffers from this disease?

The first step to dealing with a substance abuse problem is recognizing that there is a problem. To do that it helps to understand the disease better.

  • What signs should be looking for?
  • What might be causing it?
  • What part do genetics have to play?
  • What changes can be made to improve your situation?
  • What treatment options are right for you or someone you love?
  • How do you take care of yourself, if you love someone suffering with an addiction?
  • Etc.

I’ll be posting some helpful links over the next few weeks to help address this challenge. If you’re reading this and have any links to share, please feel free to comment below or send me a message.

Substance abuse is something I hope to teach both my sons to avoid. Given our genetic pre-disposition for it and the fact that D has ADHD, it won’t be easy.

I can use all the help I can get.


* WordPress has challenged their bloggers with a campaign to blog once a week (or once a day for the crazy keeners) in 2011 and I love a challenge! Damn you, WordPress geniuses! 🙂

They suggested that I share my intentions with you all, so that you know what I’m up to and can encourage me with comments and “likes” along the way.

Wish me luck!

Celebrities with ADD / ADHD

January 11, 2011

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I have included below a link to, where you can find a list of celebrities who live with ADHD each day.

Your children may or may not know all of these names and that’s ok. Go through the list with them and google the names of those they don’t recognize. Help them learn more about the successes others with ADHD have found. It could be a great conversation starter. 🙂

It’s always a good idea for anyone living with ADHD to have a little something like this in their back pocket. That way, the next time that really annoying mom from the school association starts to brag about how perfect her children are (yeah, sure they are) and how she “feels” for your son or daughter because they must find grade 6 so hard, with ADHD and all, you’ll be ready for her. Stand up for yourself and your child and put her in her place with a few of the more famous ADHD success stories. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Justin Timberlake – Musician and Actor
  • Jamie Oliver – Chef
  • Karina Smirnoff – Professional Dancer on Dancing With The Stars
  • Will Smith – Actor
  • Howie Mandel – Host of Deal or No Deal
  • Paris Hilton – Heiress and Actress
  • Paul Orfales – Founder of Kinko’s
  • Michelle Rodriguez – Actress on LOST
  • David Neeleman – Founder of JetBlue Airways
  • Michael Phelps – Professional Athlete and Olympian
  • Jim Carrey – Actor
  • Ty Pennington – Host of Extreme Makeover – Home Edition.
  • Sir Richard Branson – Founder of Virgin Atlantic Airline

For more on each of these celebrities, click on the link below.

Celebrities with ADHD

*Know of other ADHD success stories? Send me a message or comment below and tell us. 🙂

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I always loved this quote, by William W. Purkey:

“Dance like no one is watching. Love like you’ll never be hurt. Sing like no one is listening. Live like it’s heaven on earth.”

What would YOU do, if no one else was there to judge you? What would you try that you’re too afraid to? Would you dance? Would you sing? Would you love?

If I had been asked these questions a few months ago, I would have said at least three things…

1 – I would blog about ADHD.

2 – I would paint.

3 – I would play piano.

One down and two to go. 🙂

I have an idea! Let’s all step out of our comfort zones today, in some way, whether big or small. Join me and try something that you’ve been putting off because you’re afraid or intimidated. Sign up for a new class, visit a new restaurant or try a new recipe.

Need something smaller? Try picking up the phone when you want to email, saying hi to one of the other moms at the park or smiling at the cute guy who waits for the bus on your corner (if you’re single that is).  😉

Bullying is Unacceptable!

October 1, 2010

This is too important a message not to share. Watch the short message above.

Bullying of any type is unacceptable. Some children feel so alone in the world that they feel their only option is ending their lives. It needs to stop. Things need to change.

We need to teach our children how to respect each other’s differences. We need to model this acceptance for them on a daily basis. So I am urging each of you to take a moment and think about what you could be doing to improve the lives of our children.

Thank you.

I hate the name – Attention Deficit Disorder. It’s so negative, not to mention a mouthful to articulate. How’s anyone suppose to feel empowered and optimistic about the challenges they face with a name like that?!

Any ideas out there for new names? 🙂

Your Chance to Vote!

July 1, 2010

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