ADHD and Addictive Behaviour 2020-05-20T10:58:12-04:00

ADHD and Addictive Behaviour

Self Medication

Self medication doesn’t just include cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. This chapter talks about the many ways addictive behavior appears.  This video is Chapter 34 & 35 of our 99 video series ADHD Medication: Straight Answers to Big Questions

For a full transcript of this video scroll down.


The following is taken from ‘ADHD Medication – Straight Answers to Big Questions.’

What is Self Medicating?

Dr. Margaret Weiss – and self medication doesn’t just include; cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana. Which is what we most commonly think of. Self medication also includes addictions to video games, computer addictions, spending hours on attention leaving tasks like chat groups. Being on the internet all the time or being on the phone, the iPhone.
Dr. David Pomeroy – Internet addiction I really believe is is very real, and there’s dopamine hits there, and whether they’re playing Halo or Xbox or looking at porn it’s all stuff that just soaks up the time but it’s a lot of dopamine hits.

ADHD & Substance Abuse

Dr. Weiss –  it also includes overwork. Being so busy that you never have to stop and do a task that is quieting or soothing.
Dr. Edward Hallowell – Unfortunately people with adult ADHD are very prone to substance abuse, alcohol, marijuana cocaine, activities – gambling, sex, shopping, spending.
(Focus group member) I can’t seem to manage money or have the the impulses that I gotta have it even if I can’t afford it I gotta go get it.

Self Medication Eating Disorder

Dr. Pomeroy – Eating is another self-medicating feels good to have something to eat.
Dr. Ari Tuckman – One of the things that we need to regulate is what do we eat, how much do we eat, when do we eat it, how do we eat it, you know? etc etc.
(Focus group member) one of the weaknesses for me is impulse control. So we impulse control around food.
Dr. Tuckman – They’re eating impulsively and of course when we eat impulsively we don’t impulsively eat a whole bunch of you know, lettuce. We impulsively eat you know terrible hamburgers with bacon on top.
(Focus group member) so hard to exercise, so hard to come up with a formal meal plan and stick to it. Folks with ADHD are more likely to have trouble managing their weight and just generally speaking, eating a healthy diet. Folks with ADHD have higher blood cholesterol levels and I think that this is a direct measure of their eating habits.

Exercise Addiction

Dr. Hallowell – but you can become an exercise aholic, you know, you do too much of a good thing it plays into the same dopamine circuitry. You want to watch out for dangerous behavior. We adults with ADHD have a tendency to go to the to much to the wretched excess.
Once I left College it was adrenaline was my new drug. I had a motorbike and all I’ll say is I would try to do the top speed. I have driven a hundred miles in under an hour before, through Scottish Highlands. Which is, yeah, WOOHOO!! So that that was my drug. Yeah, I’ve done a lot of risk-taking, people would say, I have no fear and it’s like ‘come on let’s go!’
Focus group member – I had a mountain bike as well, and I would come down scary hills. So I got the specialized helmet and it had a warranty on it so if you fell off your bike & landed on your head they would give you a replacement. I was in the following day, can I get a replacement? I’ve had a couple of injuries but that never stopped.. the parasailing, I like the rush of it and the excitement of it. I also rock climbed, and did all those kind of crazy things. Give me a piece of rope and a helmet and it’s gonna, okay I’m safe now.

Work Addiction

Dr. Edward Hallowell – The trader on the commodities exchange who becomes reckless, or the the entrepreneur who gets too many businesses going. I work in the printing industry so it’s time-sensitive and deadlines sensitive and there’s always 12 things happening at once. I loved working in the ICU I always looked forward to work. It was non-stop euphoria. I love working with the patients and I liked watching and learning from all the doctors and fellow nurses. it’s been singing in bands and doing stand-up comedy acting and writing all in one.
(Focus group member) and I’ve always you know taken on lots of activities. Yes! it’s a form of self-medicating I think the creative pursuit is probably a form of self-medication for a lot of people. I was a self-employed IT guy so it was a bit like an emergency room doctor. I never knew what was gonna happen that day and the ADHD brain feeds off of that. It’s like okay it’s gonna what’s gonna happen today who’s gonna die? Who am I going after rescue? Once I got in the zone of what I was doing I heard nothing else it was a real hyper focus.
Rick Green – Founder of TotallyADD on stage in front of 2,000 people I am calm, clear, excited, focused, having to sit down and do some paperwork some receipts, some invoices, some .. oh God. When it came to billing the guy for rescuing him? That was months later and then it was how long was I there? What did I sell
them? Oh crap.
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