NorthShore ADHD and Addiction Clinic introduction by Co-founder Lawrence Sheppard, May 2010
Addiction is a pediatric phenomenon, since most addiction starts before the age of 18.
However, while almost every teen is exposed to alcohol or drugs, only 5% will develop a substance use disorder (addiction)
ADHD and Addiction are two separate disorders. But, they often co-exist. While ADHD refers to a deficit in the dopamine circuits that manage attention/ executive function/ impulse control and motor control. Addiction refers to a failure in impulse control/ reward deficiency/ and mood instability.
ADHD refers to inattention, executive dysfunction (difficulty getting things done), impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Depression, anxiety and mood dysregulation are not part of ADHD, they layer on top of ADHD, creating what we call co-morbidity.
All two year olds are ADHD. But as children mature, they develop the skills that allow them to focus, execute, inhibit impulses and control their movement. Children who do not develop these skills as they grow older start to separate from their peers. The more severe the ADHD, the earlier it shows up.
ADHD and anxiety are distinct disorders. But they often co-exist. The traits of anxiety (carefulness, attention to detail) mask the symptoms of ADHD (carelessness, lack of attention to detail). So this person, does not 'look' ADHD and they may be successful in many areas. But the anxiety will not compensate for their difficulty focussing/ listening/ speaking/ reading/ writing, in fact, it will make it worse.
ADHD is a relative deficit in dopamine neurotransmission. It can be influenced by everything from diet and exercise to sleep, stress and stimulation. When people can't manage their ADHD with any of these natural remedies, we will use medication as a last resort.
ADHD is a deficit in one or more dopamine circuits. The decrease in dopamine neurotransmission causes different symptoms depending on where in the brain the deficit occurs.