What is ADHD/ADD?

ADHD or ADD is an abbreviation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that it involves a dysfunction of the brain’s neurological system. ADHD often comes on in childhood and for approximately 80 percent of people diagnosed, continues into adulthood. When symptoms persist into adulthood, a person is diagnosed with Adult ADHD. Between 6 – 9 percent of children and 5 percent of adults worldwide suffer from ADHD.

The condition is characterized by inattention and impulsivity. There are subtypes of ADHD based on the predominant symptom.

Types of ADHD

ADHD is diagnosed as three different types. The type of ADHD diagnosed will depend on the predominant symptoms a patient presents.

Predominantly Inattentive

Those with Predominantly Inattentive ADHD will be easily distracted. They may face difficulty finishing tasks and paying attention to details. This was once known as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, although this term is no longer commonly used.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD makes it hard for a person to remain still and quiet. Smaller children with this type of ADHD may run, jump, and climb constantly. Sufferers will be interruptive to others on a regular basis, and will find it hard to wait for their turn.


People suffering from Combined Presentation ADHD will display a combination of the above two types.


Symptoms of inattention include:

  • Poor attention to detail
  • Difficulty sustaining attention
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor listening
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Poor organisation skills
  • Carelessness regarding daily activities

Hyperactivity is characterized by:

  • Fidgeting, difficulty staying still
  • High energy
  • Difficulty staying calm and quiet
  • Excessive talking

Characteristics of impulsivity include:

  • Disruptive in other people’s activities
  • Difficulty waiting for one’s turn

What causes ADHD?

Research is continuing into the root causes of ADHD. Today it is generally believed that the causes of ADHD are primarily genetic and hereditary. Some research suggests that ADHD risk is increased when a child is exposed to certain toxins and chemicals.

Contrary to popular belief, ADHD in children does not develop as a result of poor parenting style of excessive sugar. It is a condition associated with disruption to normal neurological development. Research has even found the brains of ADHD patients show some clear physiological differences to the brain of those without ADHD.

ADHD and Substance Use

There is a strong relationship between ADHD and substance abuse. More and more adolescents and young adult patients are reporting to clinical practice with co-occurring ADHD and Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

Common prescription treatments for ADHD (stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall) are also common substances of abuse among young people.

The following are some statistics relating to ADHD and SUD.

The rate of ADHD among adults receiving treatment for alcohol and substance abuse is approximately 25 percent.

Among adolescents aged 15-17 with ADHD, about 14 percent have problems with alcohol abuse or dependence in later years compared to adolescents without an ADHD diagnosis.

At around 15 years of age, 40 percent of adolescents with ADHD use alcohol for the first time. In adolescents without ADHD, this number is around 22 percent.

The use of alcohol is just as likely in young adults with a mean age of 25, ADHD diagnosis or not. However, those with ADHD are more likely to use alcohol in excess.

Support and Guidance in Recovery

At Heather R. Hayes & Associates, we understand that when our clients are suffering from co-occurring disorders, effective and integrated treatment is needed. We are able to offer support and guidance to individuals and families affected by co-occurring ADHD and SUD by providing appropriate Trauma-Informed Responsive Intervention measures and exploring the most suitable treatment options. Don’t hesitate to contact us today with concerns and queries about our services and what to expect going forward. We are proud to employ a team of dedicated professionals, all of whom aim to make the transition to recovery as easy and smooth as possible.

For more information about mental health and substance use, please see this article:

Dual Diagnosis Intervention: Addiction & Mental Illness

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