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Old 05-20-17, 10:34 PM
mildadhd mildadhd is offline
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I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

My personal thoughts in this thread are not meant to discourage anyone who considers themselves an "addict", to help themselves avoid using addictive substances, all disagreements, thoughts and approaches that work for you are appreciated.

I just think being ADHD, is the underlying reason for me abusing addictive substances.

In other words, ADHD led to substance abuse.

About the age of 35, I was diagnosed with AD(H)D and started taking ADHD medication.

For at least 25 years before I was diagnosed, I used a lot of addictive substances.

About the age 7-10 I remember having my first cravings to use addictive substances, although at the time I had no understanding why.

If I was never diagnosed having ADHD, I would still have the same problems.

(It still took me about 10 years, til about the age of 45, before I stopped using addictive substances)

Now at age 46, this year I have finally figured out the right amount and type of ADHD medication and only take ADHD medication.

For the first time I do not use any addictive substances, to self medicate.

I now really understand that I was self medicating all those years because I have ADHD.

I know that those substances are bad for me and I cannot take those substances, ever.

I am still working on behavioural addictions that I have developed over the years (overeating,etc), but with the right medication and breathing techniques, etc, I have been slowly making progress on these types of addictions, as well.

While I understand and do not deny what so ever that I must avoid using the addictive substances.

I do not consider myself an addict, in the way society views addicts, i have ADHD and taking my medication is a good thing.

And that makes me feel really good about myself.


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  #2  
Old 05-21-17, 01:15 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Congrats on kicking your addictions and getting to it's cause! The proper medication always beats self-medication.
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Old 05-21-17, 03:11 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyhound1 View Post
Congrats on kicking your addictions and getting to it's cause! The proper medication always beats self-medication.
Thanks Greyhoooouuuunnnnd.

I still get cravings sometimes but I seem to be able to remember to breath and some other ways I have learned and people have taught me to help the cravings go away.

I have learned a lot from professionals and friends who have ADHD over the last few years.

Still have lots to learn, I would like to write more about what I have learned overtime.

Medication is such a personal topic, takes time to work out what is best, after screwing up so many times when I stop taking, not taking as prescribed, etc, I realize it is simply best biologically for me to take it.

Not exactly sure why I did not understand this in the past, but am curious to explore the topics more in the future.

Appreciate the support.


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Old 05-21-17, 03:44 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Life is a constant process of learning, even when you are having unwanted experiences. The brain takes it all in, indiscriminately, unfiltered.

You may have had experiences in the past that caused you to doubt or deny the suitability of ADHD medication - even if they were unwanted or unpleasant experiences, you couldn't have prevented yourself from learning.
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Old 05-21-17, 03:58 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

I agree that medication is definitely a good thing. I guess a lit of adhd ers self medicate with addictive substances..I remember I was always looking for something, something am ways seemed to be missing and alcohol and smoking seemed to fill that hole a little bit, give me a bit of an extra push.

I remember the first time I tried snuff tobacco. I was 14 or so and suddenly I felt so awake and alert. I tried it many times again but I could never quite recreate the feeling though I continued for another 2 or 3 years since it seemed to help a bit
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Old 05-21-17, 05:54 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

I think for me, it was a combination of the adhd and bipolar that lead me to self medicate. Ive been sober now for almost 5 years and the perspective I have gained on my adhd, bipolar and life in general has made me realize that all the suffering and craziness of those previous years were worth it to get to this point. I am at the place now where I can say that finding out I am an alcoholic was the best thing that happened to me because I am no longer the same person I used to be.
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Old 05-21-17, 09:57 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

If I may, I'd like to float an idea here -

I am not an addict in the conventional sense. At various times when I was younger I tried a few addictive substances, but never liked the effects. When I learned I had ADHD I tried a low dose of some generic speed (Methedrine?) and didn't like that either. Never tried anything else.

But I do have ADHD. After years of wrapping my head around what that means, I can't escape the idea that ADHD itself is a form of addiction.

Break it down. Addiction is a chemical dependence. You need something that ultimately gets the right chemicals flowing in your brain that make you feel good. The lack that you're filling might be chemical itself, or it might be an emotional need or psychological vulnerability, but it ends up as chemicals in the brain that give you some sort of "ahh, that's better" feeling.

ADHD supposedly is a deficiency of the "reward" system in the brain. (Sounds like addiction...) We need more stimulation than NTs. We give it to ourselves by letting our minds latch onto distractions, which are more interesting (more rewarding) than the drudgery we know we need to be doing.

Many of the behaviors are similar between ADHD and addiction. Like the time I knew I had to leave to take my son to an appointment, but simply couldn't tear myself away from the internet and ended up being a half hour late. Like ADHDers hiding their behavior from their peers and loved ones. And continuing to let their - let's just say it, ADDICTIVE behavior - ruin their lives when they can see it happen as it happens. Choice can be as difficult for someone with ADHD as it is for someone others see as an addict.

Stopping the ADHD cycle can be as hard as trying to stop using.

Certainly there can be a wide variation in severity. Being late for an appointment is not as big an issue as forgetting your wedding. But the mechanics of these situations are similar. It seems to me that the only difference between addiction and ADHD is the nature of the internal - and ultimately external - chaos wrought by the chemical dependence in the brain.

Let's say you need cocaine to feel good, and indulging in it negatively affects your life in major ways. I need the adrenaline from a fast motorcycle ride, or to lose myself in designing some new device, or to have wild sex, or to get into an intense internet debate, or, or, or, etc., and indulging in those things has a big negative impact on my life. It makes no sense to call you an addict and not think I'm one too.

Labels can be useful, but we need to be careful how we categorize. Drawing our boundaries incorrectly can cut us off from insights and solutions.

Comments, questions, accusations? I've never seen this idea presented, so I may be off the wall on this. I'd be interested in feedback.

ZD
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If ADHD was more prevalent it would be "normal". It would shape all of society, just as it shapes our individual lives now.

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"Normal" is a meaningless concept. Reality is what it is. How we choose to deal with it is what defines us.

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Old 05-22-17, 04:41 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoom Dude View Post
Break it down. Addiction is a chemical dependence. You need something that ultimately gets the right chemicals flowing in your brain that make you feel good.
I disagree. Addiction to sex, gambling, etc does not involve a chemical dependence yet they are still addictions.


Quote:
ADHD supposedly is a deficiency of the "reward" system in the brain. (Sounds like addiction...) We need more stimulation than NTs. We give it to ourselves by letting our minds latch onto distractions, which are more interesting (more rewarding) than the drudgery we know we need to be doing.
I disagree, because its not all about distractions that are interesting or stimulating, Many times the distractions are just annoying, or get in the way and are awful or boring.

Quote:
Many of the behaviors are similar between ADHD and addiction. Like the time I knew I had to leave to take my son to an appointment, but simply couldn't tear myself away from the internet and ended up being a half hour late. Like ADHDers hiding their behavior from their peers and loved ones. And continuing to let their - let's just say it, ADDICTIVE behavior - ruin their lives when they can see it happen as it happens. Choice can be as difficult for someone with ADHD as it is for someone others see as an addict.
So are you saying that you were so addicted to the internet that you were late taking your son? or was it just more interesting and you lost track of the time? And I dont think that the secrecy of hiding how much you use chemical substances, or that you do at all has anything to do with adhd.
Addictive behavior runs the lives of the addict because its addiction, but adhd is not like addiction. Its not something we can control. We cant pick what is hard for us.

Quote:
Stopping the ADHD cycle can be as hard as trying to stop using.
You cant stop adhd.

Quote:
Certainly there can be a wide variation in severity. Being late for an appointment is not as big an issue as forgetting your wedding. But the mechanics of these situations are similar. It seems to me that the only difference between addiction and ADHD is the nature of the internal - and ultimately external - chaos wrought by the chemical dependence in the brain.
Can you explain this more?

Quote:
Let's say you need cocaine to feel good, and indulging in it negatively affects your life in major ways. I need the adrenaline from a fast motorcycle ride, or to lose myself in designing some new device, or to have wild jungle monkey sex, or to get into an intense internet debate, or, or, or, etc., and indulging in those things has a big negative impact on my life.
In a way I think the idea of needing adrenaline to feel a certain way is sort of like and adhd myth. Yes, it applies to some people but what about the inattentives? Many times they dont have these types of symptoms. And indulging in these things doesnt have to be negative. There are many people treated properly with adhd that still engage in stuff like skydiving and their lives arent negatively effected.

I understand your need to correlate addiction with adhd as far as trying to dispell myths about adhd, or to try and discuss labels I agree that labels can be useless sometimes because often we are all one and the same. I just dont think its fair to the addicted or the adhd person to trivialize either of those things in order to find the similarities. I just dont see how they are similar.
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Old 05-22-17, 05:21 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Zoom Dude

I think we are more on the same page than not.

I am not an expert, and there is lots of things I have to learn about the brain and how the dimensional body and brain systems, lower, middle and higher processing levels, right and left hemisphere, etc, involved interact.

These examples are meant as a beginning, and my layman explanations are just that.

In the past there have been some terms given to describe and label some brain systems before the technology that now exists that provides a more accurate understanding of the brain research and how some brain systems actually work.

Example

There are more than one reward system in our brains'.

Two of brain reward systems often mentioned when discussing addiction are the opioid reward system and the dopaminergic reward system.

The dopaminergic pathway (medial forebrain bundle) provides general motivation to seek all rewards.

The opioid reward system provides the attachment relationship that motivates mammalian families/societies to care for each other.

Brain researchers who study these brain systems now call these two brain reward systems the SEEKING system and CARE system.

Each of these systems (and other systems) motivate specific instinctual behaviours.

Example

The dopamine driven general motivation SEEKING system is stimulated when it wants a reward, (some seeking examples: food, shelter, sex, drugs, rock n roll, information on the Internet, etc). It becomes more and more stimulated until it gets what ever reward it was seeking. When the SEEKING system gets the reward, the drive that stimulates this system to seek the reward is temporarily satisfied.

Focusing on addiction and ADHD, the dopamine driven SEEKING system originates in the lower midbrain subcortex (VTA) and extends all the way the higher neocortex (orbitofrontalcortex).

The orbitofrontalcortex is not the only area of the brain involved with underdevelopment associated with ADHD, there are many brain systems and chemistries involved, specifics depend on individual temperament and individual experiences, but development (or lack of) the orbitofrontalcortex is most affected.

The orbitofrontalcortex like many areas of the brain has more than one "job".

One of those "jobs" is to regulate/inhibit lower emotional behavioural systems like the SEEKING system.

People who have ADHD orbitofrontalcortex is about ~5% less developed than the orbitofrontalcortex of people who do not have ADHD.

(There are also other brain areas affected, but dopaminergic development (or lack of) of orbitofrontalcortex is the most affected brain area in people who have ADHD.)

Because of the lack of dopaminergic development, resulting in a lack of self regulation, the lower areas of the SEEKING system and associated instinctual behaviours, are often slightly overactive.

When people who have untreated/undiagnosed ADHD, experience a raise in dopamine from external sources/rewards in the world, example gambling, cocaine, food, adrenaline junky, nicotine, alcohol, crystal meth, sex, rock n roll, etc), there SEEKING system becomes more calm, sometimes for the first time in the persons life. (Like you mentioned, about certain addictive substances calming the brain)

My point is...if the person did not have ADHD, the calming effect of the taking the external substance would not be as addictive/rewarding (at least at first, than a person who does not have ADHD.)

The ADHD predisposes people to learn to become addicted to certain substances that raise dopamine levels.

Addiction is the result.

Therefore..in my opinion.

I am not an addict/junky, I have ADHD.



m
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Old 05-22-17, 09:15 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

I just stayed up all night SEEKING/searching on the Internet.

Doh!






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Old 05-22-17, 08:32 PM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Trying to understand without the benefit of personal experience here. (I don't even drink - never could get past the taste of alcohol.) Trying to see this from outside the experience gives me some appreciation for NTs who try to understand ADHDers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
Addiction to sex, gambling, etc does not involve a chemical dependence yet they are still addictions.
Hmmm. And here I was going to suggest that maybe what you're calling addictions are dependence on external chemicals, while ADHD (and the other activities you suggest above) has to do with behavior that causes the body to produce chemicals the brain likes. I think you just shot me down.

Quote:
... its not all about distractions that are interesting or stimulating, Many times the distractions are just annoying, or get in the way and are awful or boring.
The diversity of the ADHD experience isn't helping here. My crazy-brain is never attracted to distractions that are annoying, awful or boring. I have to wonder if that behavior is more related to anxiety, depression, etc.?

Quote:
So are you saying that you were so addicted to the internet that you were late taking your son? or was it just more interesting and you lost track of the time?
In that particular example, it wasn't the internet per se that I was addicted to. It was the complete engagement in what I was involved in, and I did not lose track of time - I knew when I had to leave, knew what time it was, but still kept telling myself 'just a little bit more, it'll be OK.' Basically lying to myself and superficially believing the lie, knowing full well what the consequences would be - and doing it anyway. Sounds like addiction to me.

Quote:
And I dont think that the secrecy of hiding how much you use chemical substances, or that you do at all has anything to do with adhd.
Well, I'm not hiding illegal drugs in my desk at work, but I have become adept at wasting a lot of the company's time. I know I have to frequently space out and let my mind freewheel or my head will explode. So I look like I'm working while I do a little internet surfing, take a meaningless walk around the factory while looking like I have a purpose in mind, that sort of thing. It's relatively harmless, but I am absolutely being secretive, hiding the effects of my disorder from my employer and colleagues. It's dishonest, it's not something I'm proud of, but I know it's necessary.

Quote:
Addictive behavior runs the lives of the addict because its addiction, but adhd is not like addiction. Its not something we can control. We cant pick what is hard for us.
Believe me, I do understand that the effects of addiction are generally far worse than ADHD. To my knowledge, no one has ever died from ADHD, at least not directly. But I have to disagree with your statement. Addiction never goes away. Ever. Neither does ADHD. You can manage them both in different ways, and successful management generally involves profound changes to one's life. To the extent that management of either disorder becomes the center of one's life, and everything else is affected by it. It's either that or it doesn't work and you spiral out of control. With time and experience you can push the management behind the scenes so you don't seem overtly like an anti-addiction or anti-ADHD crusader, but your quality of life depends entirely on how well and how consistently you manage your challenges.

Quote:
You cant stop adhd.
Nor can you stop addiction. But you can meet them both somewhere in the middle, where you still get to live your life. With addiction there's a whole range of things you need to stop doing, including involvements with certain people. Very similar to ADHD.

Quote:
Can you explain this more?
Referring to my comment:

Certainly there can be a wide variation in severity. Being late for an appointment is not as big an issue as forgetting your wedding. But the mechanics of these situations are similar. It seems to me that the only difference between addiction and ADHD is the nature of the internal - and ultimately external - chaos wrought by the chemical dependence in the brain.

The severity of the consequences of addiction is generally far worse than for ADHD (though some of what I've read here from ADHDers has been pretty harrowing). Maybe that's the main difference from my admittedly ignorant perspective - a hard time for an ADHDer might be losing a job and a marriage, while an addict can easily see going beyond that, to prison or death. The internal chaos differs by the disorder, but it's still chaos. The external chaos is how the internal ripples out into your life and the lives of others you interact with.

Quote:
In a way I think the idea of needing adrenaline to feel a certain way is sort of like and adhd myth. Yes, it applies to some people but what about the inattentives? Many times they dont have these types of symptoms. And indulging in these things doesnt have to be negative. There are many people treated properly with adhd that still engage in stuff like skydiving and their lives arent negatively effected.
There's that diversity of ADHD experience again. I'm inattentive, and the only time I feel like I'm firing on all cylinders is when I'm on an adrenaline rush. (Which I don't get the benefit of having anymore. I feel like I've been sleepwalking for decades. I'm sooo looking forward to retirement.)

And we're generalizing here, but there is such a broad spectrum of experience. My father was an alcoholic, but he had enough control to never show up to work drunk. Only at home, the corner bar or with friends. Several displays of really poor judgement, no one got hurt (thanks mostly to luck). We got through it.

Everyone has a different way of playing the game. What urges they indulge, how far they let things go, where they draw their lines. Management is everything. (My father could have done a lot better.)

Quote:
I understand your need to correlate addiction with adhd as far as trying to dispell myths about adhd, or to try and discuss labels I agree that labels can be useless sometimes because often we are all one and the same. I just dont think its fair to the addicted or the adhd person to trivialize either of those things in order to find the similarities. I just dont see how they are similar.
Trust me, trivializing was never my intent. I do understand that without personal experience to back me up it would be wildly irresponsible for me to assert that addiction and ADHD are somehow related. So I won't. I respect your experience over my logic.

I will, however, keep paying attention to the parallels and similar patterns I see, simply because I can't turn off my head. Maybe there is insight to be had there, maybe not. Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses.

ZD
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"Normal" refers to a majority view.

If ADHD was more prevalent it would be "normal". It would shape all of society, just as it shapes our individual lives now.

Those with an excessive need for order, consistency and timeliness would face a lifelong struggle. Most of us "normals" would wonder why they don't lighten up and be more open to life's ebb and flow.

"Normal" is a meaningless concept. Reality is what it is. How we choose to deal with it is what defines us.
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Old 05-23-17, 06:39 AM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoom Dude View Post
The diversity of the ADHD experience isn't helping here. My crazy-brain is never attracted to distractions that are annoying, awful or boring. I have to wonder if that behavior is more related to anxiety, depression, etc.?
I think its part of the impairments portion of adhd. Imagine if it was all about adrenaline? Would that even be a bad thing over all?


Quote:
In that particular example, it wasn't the internet per se that I was addicted to. It was the complete engagement in what I was involved in, and I did not lose track of time - I knew when I had to leave, knew what time it was, but still kept telling myself 'just a little bit more, it'll be OK.' Basically lying to myself and superficially believing the lie, knowing full well what the consequences would be - and doing it anyway. Sounds like addiction to me.
To me it simply sounds like distraction coupled with sort of "forgetting" the consequences short term. At least thats how it is with me.



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Well, I'm not hiding illegal drugs in my desk at work, but I have become adept at wasting a lot of the company's time. I know I have to frequently space out and let my mind freewheel or my head will explode. So I look like I'm working while I do a little internet surfing, take a meaningless walk around the factory while looking like I have a purpose in mind, that sort of thing. It's relatively harmless, but I am absolutely being secretive, hiding the effects of my disorder from my employer and colleagues. It's dishonest, it's not something I'm proud of, but I know it's necessary.
I think for me it would be a characteristic of shame. Shame over struggling but I can see what you mean about hiding that part. I just dont know if I would go so far as to call it addiction I guess.



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Believe me, I do understand that the effects of addiction are generally far worse than ADHD. To my knowledge, no one has ever died from ADHD, at least not directly. But I have to disagree with your statement. Addiction never goes away. Ever. Neither does ADHD. You can manage them both in different ways, and successful management generally involves profound changes to one's life. To the extent that management of either disorder becomes the center of one's life, and everything else is affected by it. It's either that or it doesn't work and you spiral out of control. With time and experience you can push the management behind the scenes so you don't seem overtly like an anti-addiction or anti-ADHD crusader, but your quality of life depends entirely on how well and how consistently you manage your challenges.
I guess because adhd can involve medication is what hangs me up. There is not really a medication or substance that manages addiction. At least not in the long term. Its more about habits and behavior, coping with things in a healthy way and avoiding self medication. People with adhd are statistically more prone t substance abuse so I think struggling both can make those areas gray.


Quote:
Nor can you stop addiction. But you can meet them both somewhere in the middle, where you still get to live your life. With addiction there's a whole range of things you need to stop doing, including involvements with certain people. Very similar to ADHD.
I just dont think you can manage adhd as well with avoiding people places and things. With my alcoholism I had to end some drinking friendships. I have never had to do that with adhd to manage it.



Quote:
The severity of the consequences of addiction is generally far worse than for ADHD (though some of what I've read here from ADHDers has been pretty harrowing). Maybe that's the main difference from my admittedly ignorant perspective - a hard time for an ADHDer might be losing a job and a marriage, while an addict can easily see going beyond that, to prison or death. The internal chaos differs by the disorder, but it's still chaos. The external chaos is how the internal ripples out into your life and the lives of others you interact with.
Yes but the chaos usually devastates those around us, and the family has the disease. Its never solely about the addict. There are lots of factors and emeshment of the family. I dont think the same can be said for adhd.



Quote:
There's that diversity of ADHD experience again. I'm inattentive, and the only time I feel like I'm firing on all cylinders is when I'm on an adrenaline rush. (Which I don't get the benefit of having anymore. I feel like I've been sleepwalking for decades. I'm sooo looking forward to retirement.)

And we're generalizing here, but there is such a broad spectrum of experience. My father was an alcoholic, but he had enough control to never show up to work drunk. Only at home, the corner bar or with friends. Several displays of really poor judgement, no one got hurt (thanks mostly to luck). We got through it.
See, I see the adrenaline portion as being unique to you and not an impairment which sort of flies in the face of adhd.

Quote:
, trivializing was never my intent. I do understand that without personal experience to back me up it would be wildly irresponsible for me to assert that addiction and ADHD are somehow related. So I won't. I respect your experience over my logic.

I will, however, keep paying attention to the parallels and similar patterns I see, simply because I can't turn off my head. Maybe there is insight to be had there, maybe not. Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses.

ZD
I really dont think you are or were trivializing addiction. You have great insight and have obviously put thought and compassion into what you are saying. I have the experience so my perception is definitely more subjective however you and I both have experience with adhd and the scientific standards of diagnosis and treatment.
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Old 05-25-17, 07:19 PM
dvdnvwls dvdnvwls is offline
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Until I was 15, I bit my fingernails all the time.

It was obviously not good for me. I tried to stop. My parents bought bad tasting stuff and I painted it on, but I just got used to the taste and carried on. I didn't want to keep doing it, but I did it anyway.

Then, one day, I simply stopped. I found I didn't want to bite my fingernails anymore.

I know that there are former alcoholics (and yes I know what I just said and yes I do know what I'm talking about) who went through the same experience of just stopping one day and being fine afterwards and not having any residual effects whatsoever. They are not "recovering alcoholics"; they have no relationship with alcoholism anymore, other than history.

I don't think that can happen with ADHD. I mean that it can never just stop one day like those other things can.
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Old 05-26-17, 08:09 PM
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdnvwls View Post
Until I was 15, I bit my fingernails all the time.

It was obviously not good for me. I tried to stop. My parents bought bad tasting stuff and I painted it on, but I just got used to the taste and carried on. I didn't want to keep doing it, but I did it anyway.

Then, one day, I simply stopped. I found I didn't want to bite my fingernails anymore.

I know that there are former alcoholics (and yes I know what I just said and yes I do know what I'm talking about) who went through the same experience of just stopping one day and being fine afterwards and not having any residual effects whatsoever. They are not "recovering alcoholics"; they have no relationship with alcoholism anymore, other than history.

I don't think that can happen with ADHD. I mean that it can never just stop one day like those other things can.
There are a percent of people that "grow out" of ADHD.

I wonder if people who have undiagnosed ADHD and no help, would be less likely to "grow out" of ADHD and less likely to stop self medicating with alcohol and other substances, than people who have diagnosed ADHD and proper help?


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Old 05-27-17, 05:36 AM
dvdnvwls dvdnvwls is offline
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Re: I am not an addict, I have ADHD.

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Originally Posted by mildadhd View Post
There are a percent of people that "grow out" of ADHD.

I wonder if people who have undiagnosed ADHD and no help, would be less likely to "grow out" of ADHD and less likely to stop self medicating with alcohol and other substances, than people who have diagnosed ADHD and proper help?
I don't know, but what you said makes sense to me.
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