View Full Version : ADD/ADHD and Alcohol Abuse


Crosswired
09-28-14, 08:35 PM
There is plenty of evidence that ADHD sufferers are far more prone to addiction that normal people. I was diagnosed in rehab when I was there for alcoholism. There other people diagnosed too as its the first thing they test for there.

I was just wondering if anyone else out there has struggled with alcohol?

sarahsweets
09-28-14, 09:41 PM
I'm an alcoholic.

Karamo
09-28-14, 09:47 PM
I've never fallen for alcohol, weed or other depressants as I believe my biggest assets are my wits and whenever I've had more than a few beers, I stop drinking because I can't stand the thought of being 'sub-myself', intellectually. That plus the fact that being drunk induces only very mild feelings of well-being. Therefor I run no risk of ever becoming addicted to the sauce.

However, since I value productivity, quality of performance and mental clarity higher than anything in this world as well as knowing that the only way for me to "unfog" my ADHD mind is through stimulants, I am well aware that I will eventually become dependant on them again... The problem is that I can't handle the crashes at all even from very low doses of dopamine agonists...

So my addiction lay mainly in my obsession with being able to be consistent in my productivity.

Alcohol is not nearly as easy to become hooked on when compared to the addiction potential of stimulants, mainly because the dopaminergic (feel-good) reward is far lower. However if and when down that alley, it's a far more toxic and dangerous substance than most stimulants and having witnessed it first hand; I don't wish alcohol withdrawal upon even my worst enemy.

Crosswired
09-28-14, 10:16 PM
I slowly got hooked on vodka over the period of a year. I was self-medicating my ADD. I turned into a daily drinker because I would go into withdrawal otherwise. I would be at work and have to sneak off for a drink to stop my hands from shaking. The ADD meds I am prescribed took away my alcohol cravings for the most part.

Karamo
09-28-14, 10:37 PM
I slowly got hooked on vodka over the period of a year. I was self-medicating my ADD. I turned into a daily drinker because I would go into withdrawal otherwise. I would be at work and have to sneak off for a drink to stop my hands from shaking. The ADD meds I am prescribed took away my alcohol cravings for the most part.

In what ways did you find alcohol to help you with your ADD?

I find that small amounts of alcohol (a shot of vodka) before bed somewhat helps me with my terrible inability to fall sleep at night, but I could never accept getting addicted to it for the help it provides so I rather toss and turn in bed for hours every single night... I don't feel that alcohol has any positive effect on my cognitive abilities -at all- but like I said, I want nothing more than to sharpen my senses rather than to dull them.

But we're all different and if you don't mind, I'd really like to try and understand what the appeal of alcohol was for you =)

shower
09-28-14, 10:55 PM
I have periods in my life when I am a full blown alcoholic, and periods where I don't really drink at all. However, Its either once vice or another for me, If I'm not drinking after school/work I'm smoking cannabis. I find It extremely hard to sit down, relax, and get my mind off work and school in those 1-2 hours I have free when I get home... I figure at least with pot I'm not completely destroying my body and bank account in the process but I know as soon as I can't find any anymore I will most likely be back to drinking.

This is just my experience, I am in no way condoning the use of marijuana. I wish I didn't need a method of escapism just to relax and sleep, but I do.

Crosswired
09-28-14, 11:37 PM
Well Karamo, with Alcohol it all started in high school. Here I had ADD and social anxiety. I was quite unsure of myself and I needed the alcohol to socialize. I was able to talk to people without the shyness. I used it in all social situations. Otherwise, I couldn't do small talk. I hate small talk, but not when I'm drunk. Slowly I began to use it to sleep at night and relieve anxiety and depression. Progressively, I used it more and more until I was addicted.

JJJJJJJJJJ
09-28-14, 11:44 PM
I slowly got hooked on vodka over the period of a year. I was self-medicating my ADD. I turned into a daily drinker because I would go into withdrawal otherwise. I would be at work and have to sneak off for a drink to stop my hands from shaking. The ADD meds I am prescribed took away my alcohol cravings for the most part.

It is great that the ADD meds have been helpful. I wonder if it is just helping to provide more self control or if you were really using alcohol to self-medicate an ADD problem. ( I'm not doubting that ADD is involved, just whether it is the only thing in play )

My case might provide some context. After a SPECT brain scan at the Amen clinic they prescribed a modest dose of Adderall for my mostly inattentive ADD and a tiny dose of a mild mood stabilizer, Trileptal, for my "difficult" intense, competitive mood. ( Note: I was not in terribly bad shape. I had a nice mid level systems admin job, but I was struggling, especially in a relationship )

They started me on the mood stabilizer first which did a nice job reducing the intensity. A week or so later when I added the Adderall, the situation improved even more. In situations where I'd get agitated the Trileptal turned down the level on the intensity and the Adderall gave me more self control to zip my mouth, etc.

They also recommended various supplements. Over time I was able to gradually wean off of the mood stabilizer. I continued to take the Adderall for around 5 yrs. While it seems that the supplements really did take the edge off of the mood problem, the Adderall was still there to help me control my actions when I would get somewhat agitated.

You might think about which specific symptoms you were trying to self-medicate with alcohol. For some it might be intensity like me. For others it might be anxiety. I bet the chemical processes that are most involved in those symptoms are not really the processes that are primarily involved in ADD.

If there is some anxiety and or mood instability you might learn about GABA, magnesium, even lithium. In the heavy metal detox groups we surprisingly see many hair tests with lithium low in the red. Those who also have the intense mood often report that a couple of mg of lithium orotate supplement will take the edge off of the intensity. It certainly did for me. Magnesium also has a calming effect.

Dr Daniel Amen's book, Healing the Hardware of the Soul has a long checklist in the back that can help a person get a feel for their area(s) of weakness. He then correlates the results with various areas of the brain and various treatment options. I bet this can be helpful when we go to a doctor and have to explain our situation. I gave my doctor a copy of the results.

You might also check out this recent discussion and the section of our group on Co-Existing Conditions.
http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1682593#post1682593

sarahsweets
09-29-14, 04:18 AM
I disagree. I do think you are right about the negative health aspects of alcohol vs stimulants but I believe its much easier to become addicted to alcohol then stimulants. The reason I believe this is because an excess amount of stimulants can have a lot more negative side effects than alcohol would have. I think that abuse of stimulants can cause short term albeit, intense side effects whereas alcohol causes major long term side effects like liver damage,esophageal cancer etc.

Alcohol is not nearly as easy to become hooked on when compared to the addiction potential of stimulants, mainly because the dopaminergic (feel-good) reward is far lower. However if and when down that alley, it's a far more toxic and dangerous substance than most stimulants and having witnessed it first hand; I don't wish alcohol withdrawal upon even my worst enemy.

Karamo
09-29-14, 10:02 AM
I disagree. I do think you are right about the negative health aspects of alcohol vs stimulants but I believe its much easier to become addicted to alcohol then stimulants. The reason I believe this is because an excess amount of stimulants can have a lot more negative side effects than alcohol would have. I think that abuse of stimulants can cause short term albeit, intense side effects whereas alcohol causes major long term side effects like liver damage,esophageal cancer etc.

Hmm, you think? I guess that's individual to a degree as well. I was addicted to speed for a year (I did however, read up on it before starting so I went willingly into it - there were no surprises) and I did so to be able to have energy to manage my full time job as a barista and the band rehearsals after work - something that normal people can handle without a problem. But we're not normal, are we? :P

The thing is, it was very small amounts and no one suspected or noticed anything until I told them - I had no tremors, no dilated pupils, no bruxism, no excessive talking et cetera. But I became addicted after just two weeks - if I didn't take any for a day I'd be depressed beyond belief.

However, with alcohol, my coordination is impaired before I even feel affected mentally and when the "social lubricant"-type of effects come into play then I'd already be way too drunk to be able to work and it would be way noticable that I was just that - drunk.

Now, I've never been addicted to booze so I don't know what a "sober day" feels like when you've been drinking to get drunk every day for a good while but I do know that without being addicted to either substance my personal opinion is that a "comedown" from speed is much easier on both mind and body than a hangover is. Withdrawal from speed (and Vyvanse 50mg/day) however totally sends me down oblivion.. But that's WHEN already addicted.

Point is, I never experienced anything bad with speed until I decided to take a break/try to quit. Since my life was great on all points back then I had no anxiety at night, no problems falling asleep (the comedown made me tired, not depressed.) et cetera but the things it allowed me to do - opening up a whole new world and unlocking my creativity and will to live... It was God sent... Booze just confines me in a haze of dulled senses and inability to fully control my body/mind.

So that's where I believe the difference to be - what you want out of life and how the drug can provide that for you.

RobboW
09-30-14, 04:24 AM
I'm an addictive personality too. I like a few drinks regularly, but not an alcoholic, I never drink during the day, whether at work or home.

If stimulants took away the desire to drink, it might be a non impact financially to have the meds but I kinda don't want to rely on them to get through my day and still haven't pushed through to be diagnosed and get them. I'm really going off the idea of taking meds.