Adult ADD – linked to Addiction and Substance Abuse

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Among adult suffers from substance abuse disorder (SUD), adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adult ADHD or ADD) is a common diagnosis with a prevalence of 15-30%. There is mounting evidence that ADHD is an important risk factor in the development and persistence of addiction. ADHD is associated with an early onset of substance abuse, a more rapid transition into severe types of substance abuse and a problematic course of SUD, including more difficulty in reaching remission.

Data on ADHD prevalence in EU countries are scarce. A systematic prevalence study has not yet been executed. Until recently, the majority of ADHD patients would remain undiagnosed due to a lack of recognition of the disorder and lack of treatment expertise. Controlled long term studies of the effect of ADHD treatment on the prognosis of addiction are also still lacking. ICASA increases knowledge and awareness on the subject of ADHD and SUD.
With the launch of the website the International Collaboration on ADHD and Substance Abuse (ICASA) is now an official Foundation. “An important step forward for research on ADHD and Substance Abuse”, says ICASA-director Geurt van de Glind of the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands. “When Substance Use Disorders develop in people with ADHD, both disorders are complicated even further. Working for ICASA provides the opportunity to conduct important and innovative research with a team of international experts and to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between these disorders”, states Sharlene Kaye from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Australia, and board member of ICASA.

ICASA is a collaborative network of over 40 researchers from 11 EU-countries, the USA and Australia. They all share one ambition: to contribute to a substantial decrease in the proportion of ADHD patients developing a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and to substantially improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of patients having both ADHD and SUD.

Currently ICASA is conducting three studies: the IASP (International ADHD in Substance use disorders Prevalence) prevalence study; the DNA sampling within the IASP study and the CASP study – Continuous performance test for ADHD in SUD patients. Two further studies are currently being developed: one international study on the genetics of ADHD and Drug Dependence (ISGADD) and another on the effects of physical exercise for patients with ADHD and SUD. This is just the beginning, with many studies to follow in the future. (Courtesy of ICASA)

Adult ADD

It was some 40 years ago that ADHD researchers tracking children over the years began to recognize that the symptoms of ADHD frequently persisted and followed a child into his teen and adult years. Family studies also often demonstrated that parents of children with ADHD frequently had similar problems. Adult ADHD was thus officially accepted in the DSM in 1978, and understood to occur in both children and adults. To differentiate the adult version it was referred to as Adult ADD; as hyperactivity did not play a major role in the adult version, the H (designating hyperactivity) was omitted.

It is estimated that there are close to one million adults in Canada that have Adult ADD. Some healthcare experts feel the problem is far more widespread, and that Adult ADD problems actually afflict twice that many people. Since Adult ADD is a spectrum type affliction there are various degrees of impairment. This can range from suffering from moderate disorganization, to a totally chaotic inability to focus and accomplish even the basics of managing one’s own life. This makes an accurate estimate of the prevelence of Adult ADD difficult to determine.

The Video below is an introduction to a series of videos about Adult ADD. To access the series please watch the introduction and then click onto the next video in the sequence. Videos courtesy of Experts Village.

A list of some of the more common ADHD medications



  • Adderal (two strengths, one for short period, one for longer periods)
  • Dexedrine (lower dosage – taken several times a day)

  • Ritalin
  • Ritalin LA (will last up to 12 hours).
  • Methylin
  • Focalin
  • Focalin XR (will last up to 12 hours)
  • Metadate CD

  • Atomoxetine HCI (Strattera)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin XL)
  • Benzphetamine
  • Clonidine
  • Provigil

Video Information on ADHD

Dr. Matthew H. Erdelyi Ph.D, Professor of Psychology at Brooklyn College, on HD, ADD and ADHD. Video courtesy of illumistream Health.

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Sobriety Foundation

Adult ADD – linked to Addiction and Substance Abuse

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