The Costs of ADHD

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If anyone still thinks ADHD is a gift direct them to this video.  The costs of ADHD are well documented in hundreds of studies. ADHD, when it’s undiagnosed and untreated, will sabotage you.  When it is severe enough, it will destroy your finances, your career, your relationships, your family, and your self-esteem.  It puts you at a much higher risk for everything from bicycle accidents and car crashes to STD’s, bankruptcies, and divorce.


Patrick McKenna: What are some of the costs of ADD?

Dr Laurence Jerome: What a typical adult will tell is they can read the words but they don’t understand the words. They don’t get under the skin of the text.

PATRICK MCKENNA:  No, there wasn’t — there was no sense that you were a failure or a success, other than you were… you were stupid is one way that they simply labeled you as.  You were lazy.  You didn’t apply yourself.  You were always distracted by talking to other people.  If you didn’t talk to other people so much, maybe you could get your work done.

There was always a reason it was always my fault that I wasn’t succeeding.  So, again, no matter how hard you worked, no matter what at the end of the day it was going to be my fault

Dr Stan Kutcher:  So the youngster grows up with sort of a negative input. It’s not uncommon that one to be dysphoric or unhappy getting negative input all the time. I would be that way, you would be that’s not depression.

Dr Annick Vincent:  When you grow up with ADHD, let’s say you’re a teenager, all those things sticks with you. Then you are — you have an increase risk of substance use and substance abuse, increase risk of tobacco use.

Dr Sam Chang: The studies have shown approximately 50% of substance abusing adolescence have ADHD.

Dr Muggli: You lose contact with friends, you become more isolated, you have less feeling for society and societal norms because, you know, what you were taught as a kid for discipline was hitting you or criticizing you.

And then I think you can slip through the cracks, the ADHD person can slip through the cracks and, you know, end up in the prison population.  So being connected is a very important thing, especially for people who have ADHD.

William E. Pelham Jr. Ph. D: ADHD kids in the absence of treatment don’t have particularly good outcomes. The parents will often say “Oh?” “What are the outcomes?” I actually do talk about the risk for having problems with delinquency, the risks for having difficulties in school, as the child gets older. The risk for not finishing high school, the risk for not getting the kind of job that they could get otherwise.

Patrick McKenna: So I was to blame for all of that.  And blame and shame, you know, they rhyme for a reason.  There’s a lot of things you carry as kids.

Miglena Grigorova: Unless you can get to the parents then he cant get any help until he’s an adult, and then he can hopefully save himself if its not to late. It’s the severe cases of adhd that are sometimes very difficult to treat because of the resistant parent.

Dr Annick Vincent: So higher marital dysfunction, higher divorce rate.  The impulsive spending and the fact that you forget to pay your bill increases your financial difficulties also.

Dr Muggli: They’re frozen.  They can’t do anything.  They’re just existing almost, you know. They’re just in their house, you know, in the clutter, not getting things done.  You know, their relationships are faltering.  They’re disconnected from people.

DR. VINCENT:  So I don’t want to say that everyone who has ADHD will go through all that for sure, but it increases the risk.

Dr Stan Kutcher:  When you treat the adhd symptoms the input gets better and that dysphoria goes away. Cross sectionally that could be called depression with adhd. So we have these artifactual issues that come up that can be really problematic. So the clinician has to be exceedingly careful.

DR. VINCENT: So I don’t want to say that everyone who has ADHD will go through all that for sure, but it increases the risk.  So this is why as clinician we think it’s really important to detect ADHD early and treat ADHD early.  And treatment includes educating what it is having ADHD, how to cope with the symptoms, and if you need medication, what would be the best medication for you.

William E. Pelham Jr. Ph. D: I say to parents, “What is your goal for your child?” The parents always say, “to help him get better now.” And it’s “to make him be whatever he could be.” I’ll say, “well with effective intervention, he can be that, but you got to start now and you got to work really hard and you have to keep in mind that it’s not an 8-week program, it’s not a 16-week program it’s a life program. We’re going to teach you skills that you can use to help your child. We’re going to teach his or her teacher skills that the teacher can use to help the child and we’re going to teach your child skills and help them get along with other children. Its learning those skills and applying them over a long period of time that’s going to help your child.

11 Replies to “The Costs of ADHD”

  1. I was thinking about people I was friends with and most of them were “like me”. A few were not, but the people I had the most fun with were also like me. That got me thinking about how many people are like me, we have families and children that are now predisposed to having this too. That lead me to the cost in the form of income and opportunities and how that impacts status because we tend to end up in the same types of jobs, social activities, neighborhoods and are in a sense creating two classes of people because of the social and economical limits you face if you are more likely to require a job that is up to your potential due to learning opportunities missed or growing up with an ADD dad.

  2. This video really hits the nail on the head when it comes to some of the often overlooked costs of growing up with ADHD. The negative comments from teachers and peers really do stick with a person. I was diagnosed with depression while I was in my undergraduate program but it wasn’t until going to graduate school that I realized what was going on. I’m studying to be a mental health counselor so I was taking a course in which we practiced counseling skills on each other when a lot of this stuff came flooding back to me. I was overwhelmed by all of the negativity and self defeating thoughts that I still carry with me today as a result of the very things mentioned in this video. I have a lot of counter-transference when I work with ADHD children now as well. I remember sitting and saying “Is it ever going to get better?” when i was in their position. Now that I’m aware of them, I’m better able to handle these thoughts and beliefs. I wish more families were aware of this aspect of ADHD.

  3. You can’t really stop those negative thoughts. The most you can do is notice them, notice that you’re listening to them, and let them go.
    Then you can create a different thought, one you generate consciously, rather than just being the passive listener to the negativity that is endlessly spewing out of your ‘monkey mind’, as the Buddhists call it.
    The fact that you are noticing the negativity is huge. Most people never get the fact that the voice is not them. They are the one listening to the voice.
    In his amazing book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle talks about feeling suicidal, and thinking, “I can’t live with myself.” and at that moment he had a flash of insight, because it implied there were two people. Himself and the one who had to live with himself. At that moment, in the depths of despair, he realized he was not his thoughts. And he was totally transformed.
    Highly recommend the book. Just reading it altered my molecules.

  4. Yeah. The Power of Now is a mind bending read. But you have to be ready for it if you know what I mean.. I gave it to my sister and she thought it was ‘wierd and flakey.’. Course she thinks I ‘m wierd and flakey.

  5. Sluffcard, I am not sure what you mean by costs. The video talks about the lower self esteem, higher risk of all kinds of problems, drugs, failing at school, etc… Those are what me mean by costs.

  6. Sluffcard I think they were using intangible items with regards to cost but didn’t really get into the where & how it affects in real life. I know they have to infer the costs rather than having actual dollar values assigned but I found they didn’t use practical examples.

    I know that it has cost me in my job – that is I probably did not get promoted or get raises because of my disorganization. I also did not ask for raises because of my low self-esteem. It has also cost me financially – being disorganized in my finances and procrastinating in my budget. I’ve had to pay interest fees. And I declared bankruptcy a while ago and most of it was consumer debt. Not being able to say no to myself is a huge thing. Being hyper focused on a project and forgetting (or procrastinating) to buy groceries and so we have to order in, etc.

    Balance is the thing I’m struggling with now. I am overwhelmed at my job. I think I have too much work and not enough time but I don’t know if it’s because of how I ‘work’ and so a ‘normal’ person could get it all done or if it really is too much work and we need another staff member. And so I work lots of overtime thinking I can get it done and then I’m not spending enough time at home. My son doesn’t see me or when he does I’m always working. I’m grocery shopping on the fly, buying crap or ordering in. My house looks like a bomb hit it. And I keep signing up for things I want to do, I like to do but then can’t follow through and feel guilty or stay up all night getting them done so people don’t think bad of me. And then I’m tired and worn out and I can’t concentrate at work and the vicious cycle continues. I’m just glad that I can ‘say’ okay this is the ADD it’s not me. I am not a bad person. I am not lazy, stupid, etc. But I am making bad choices.

  7. Not to promote the book we just wrote, but the book we just wrote, ‘ADD Stole My Car Keys!” has 155 different ways ADHD/ADD shows up in adults. From higher than average speeding tickets to excess clutter/hoarding to more STD’s despite fewer relationships. The ways it shows up are so complex. Some ways, like scoring higher on standard creativity tests, are kind of amazing.

  8. Teamkobza – Thanks for that comment, I identify strongly with all of those things you describe. Have you talked to HR or your boss? I just wrote my boss an email one day and explained what ADD is and how it affects my work. I’m a programmer who has always gotten by on being clever and producing lots of innovative work – but only if I’m “creating” something new. Once I get past the design and inventing part I get too bored to pay attention long enough to tie up the loose ends.

    A year or so ago I had been on vyvanse long enough to start getting my life together. I felt like I was coming out of a prolonged depression. I even wrote and article about dealing with depression as a programmer.

    Lately I’m starting to realize that my depression was just a natural reaction to constant negative input. I had always struggled to make a career, I’d always get bored and move on or just not understand the subtleties of office politics enough to know what sort of impression I was giving. I smoked a pack a day, was overweight, in debt, I had multiple garnishments on my paycheck due defaulting on credit cards when I lost my job a few years earlier. I had just never addressed the situation in any meaningful way.

    Then I took one of my wife’s vyvanse. She had been prescribed but had a bad reaction to it. I had always had stimulant cravings (I know that now) from caffeine to ephedra pills. It was the smallest possible dose, and I don’t really remember why I tried it.

    I went to work that day and … worked. All day. I could concentrate. I knocked out everything on my plate.

    I made an appointment with my doctor and figured out that I fit all the symptoms of ADD. I got a proper prescription and have spent the last couple of years learning all the organizational and life skills that I could never really comprehend before.

    I’m still a bit of a mess, but I’m learning.

  9. I love watching these videos! Whenever I need to find my ‘unique normal’ this is my destination. Thank-you for all you do – and to everyone who shares their comments.

    I do want to push back a bit on something that was said in this video. We (ADDers) don’t necessarily rebel against or reject societal norms because we were criticized for our inability to meet them; we were criticized because we question, and sometimes reject, societal norms. We are each born with a brain that sees myriad possibilities where others see only one. We don’t just think outside the box—we LIVE outside the box. It’s what makes us the inventors, the explorers, those whose questions lead to discoveries, and those whose ‘defiance’ has changed – and will continue to change – the course of human history.

    What we really wish for isn’t to be able to ‘do it the way everyone else does,’ or ‘get it done like everyone else,’ but to be valued precisely for the fact that we don’t—and for what we have to offer in its place.

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