ADD/ADHD and Drug or Alcohol Addiction, A Dual Diagnosis

ADHD is a mental health disorder that usually begins and is diagnosed in childhood and continues into adulthood, although more and more people with ADHD are diagnosed these days in adulthood. Some because they slipped through the cracks of diagnosis as children, and some are diagnosed as “adult onset add/ADHD”. Someone suffering from ADHD or ADD may find that the mental health disorder interferes with their everyday life and activities at home, work, or school.

What’s The Difference?

According to WebMD, ADD is a type of ADHD that doesn’t present as hyperactive with a constant movement and high energy. In 1994 Scientists and doctors decided that all forms of attention deficit disorder would fall under the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder umbrella regardless of the energy level that the individual suffering from the disorder presented with. This has caused substantial confusion throughout the community of those who suffer from the disorder, but especially those who suspect that they may be suffering from attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Someone Struggling with ADD or ADHD

  • Aggression
  • High energy
  • Excitable
  • Habitually fidgeting
  • Restless
  • Hyperactive
  • Impulsive
  • Irritable
  • Lacking in self restraint
  • Forgetful
  • Repetition of words
  • Repetition of actions
  • Short attention span
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Near constant boredom
  • Depression
  • Learning disorders
  • Mood swings
  • Absent mindedness
  • Distractedness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Disorganization
  • Daydreaming
  • Spur of the moment decisions

ADD/ADHD Nature or Nurture, the Origins of a Disorder

Nature – Genetic or Hereditary Factors

  • Family history of ADD or ADHD
  • Family history of mental illness in general
  • Nurture – Environmental Factors
  • Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use in pregnant mothers
  • Premature birth
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Exposure to chemical substances
  • Exposure to pesticides
  • Exposure to lead
  • Exposure to certain food additives
  • Brain injuries
  • Trauma from events such as childhood abuse, being a veteran of war, natural disasters, being the victim of or witnessing a violent crime, among others
  • Other mental illnesses can trigger ADHD

Dual Diagnosis or ADD/ADHD as a Co-occurring Disorder with Addiction

Co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis come in all different forms and so the body and mind react to them with different symptoms. A dual diagnosis with ADD/ADHD will present in much the same way ADD/ADHD does without addiction, but may also spurr an addiction and misuse of the ADD/ADHD medication the person is utilizing for therapeutic treatment. Adderall and Ritalin, while safe when taken as directed by a doctor, do both have addictive qualities and if misused will become a problem for the user. Of course, patients with ADD/ADHD may develop other kinds of addictions to drugs like other amphetamines, meth for example, opioids, alcohol, sedatives like xanax, and many others.

Other common dual diagnosis mental health disorders are as follows:

    • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD – PTSD is a mental health disorder characterized by emotional disturbances that can affect and disrupt the lives of those suffering from the disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and overwhelming fear, causing the victim to relive their trauma over and over again. Those who have suffered through trauma such as military service, violent crime, natural disasters or witnessing violent crime, among others, can develop the disorder.
    • Major Depressive Disorder – Major depressive disorder is a mental health disorder where the person suffering from the disorder presents with a persistent low energy, a loss of interest in their everyday activities as well as that which the person feels passionately drawn to. The person suffering from major depressive disorder may present with extreme weight loss or extreme weight gain. They will likely suffer with severe insomnia, as well as suicidal ideation.
    • Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD – Generalized anxiety disorder patients present with a tenacious foreboding and unease about a variety of different issues in their lives. These worries can differ depending on the individual person suffering from the disorder. The person may worry about finances, housing, career matters, or they may suffer from paranoia about irrational anxieties on a proportional level. This anxiety affects the everyday life of the person suffering from the disorder and can spur a variety of different medical complications
    • Bipolar Spectrum Disorder – Bipolar spectrum disorder is characterized by a person who experiences shifting moods. These moods may range from manic, hypomanic, depressive, and severe depressive states. The moods may last a variety of different amounts of time depending on the individual suffering from the disorder. The moods represent a variety of levels of physical energy and volatility. There is now believed to be a spectrum of levels of bipolar disorder, most commonly diagnosed as Bipolar I and Bipolar II.
    • Eating Disorders – Eating disorders are mental health disorders where the person struggling with the disorder presents with obsessions surrounding food. The disorders may result in extreme weight loss or weight gain. Some of the common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. The social stigma that accompanies these disorders could be a co-occurring disorder all on their own. Often onlookers consider an eating disorder something that you only develop due to lack of control or lack of intelligence. On the contrary, eating disorders are developed due to mental health, can be caused by trauma and the person suffering is not making a choice to engage with food in this way.
    • Depersonalization Derealization Disorder – Depersonalization derealization disorder presents in the person struggling with the disorder as a feeling of observing themselves, almost like an out of body experience. They feel as though they are living in the dream and like the people around them, even they themselves are not real.
    • Personality Disorder – Personality disorder is a type of mental health disorder where a person can have a hard time in relationships and the disorder can often result in problems with people’s careers, relationships and other aspects of their personal lives. There are many different types of personality disorder and they each have their own set of symptoms.
    • Panic Disorder – Panic disorder is mental health disorder under the category of an anxiety disorder. The mental illness causes panic attacks which are overwhelming and sudden feelings of deep fear and loss of control. Usually there are also physical symptoms present like sped up heart rate, or a heavy weight on the chest.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health disorder that is characterized by the person presenting with sudden bouts of overwhelming anxiety that causes rational or irrational thoughts and obsessive fear or paranoia. The person suffering from OCD sufferers great discomfort and from these obsessions. They haunt the person with the disorder. Unable to escape their own disturbing and often terrifying thoughts and specific anxieties, the person develops compulsive habits. These compulsions are the efforts of the person to try and ease their obsessions, to try and work against it or quiet it in some way.

It is common for ADD/ADHD to be a comorbidity with another mental health disorder such as those listed above. The trickiest part of a dual diagnosis is recovery treatment. A person trying to recover from drug or alcohol addiction at a FHE Health drug and rehab facility who has one or more dual diagnosis cannot treat only one disorder and leave the rest for later. Picking the disorders one at a time and treating them individually is an inevitably failed approach to recovery. Even when it seems one disorder has been treated and is in remission, once the person struggling with the disorders starts fighting a different issue, the one in remission is likely to pop right back up with a vengeance. The disorders feed each other and catalyze each other’s symptoms, building them and torturing the person suffering with the disorder.

Not that long ago, prior to more medical and mental health research, doctors would scoff at a person who exhibited signs and symptoms of having attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was considered an excuse for bad behavior that many people believed should be attributed to a child or adult’s personality rather than a mental health disorder. Likewise, a doctor may have refused to treat a mental health disorder if someone were in the grips of a drug or alcohol addiction, siting an inability to treat one disorder while the person was “choosing” to abuse a drug or alcohol.

Thank goodness for scientific research and studies that have taught our society that this disposition in terms of dual diagnosis is firmly wrong. These days the majority of doctors are more than willing to fight both disorders at once, and fully believe in the reality that is attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

  • Treatment for ADD/ADHD
  • Behavioral modification therapy
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Social skills training
  • Family education and training
  • ADD/ADHD medication

Treatment For Dual Diagnosis at a Florida Drug Detox and Rehab Facility

The treatment you will receive at FHE Health is more in depth than that you may find elsewhere. We pride ourselves on going in depth, being up to date on technologies relevant to dual diagnosis treatments, bringing together medical, psychiatric, and clinical aspects of recovery treatment. We treat the whole person during drug and alcohol detox, rehab, and after care, and believe that all of the treatment we offer should be based in science and should be quantifiable. Even if we believe there is a diagnosis to be made in reference to both medical and mental health disorders, we will do full testing to be sure of our findings. We use a series of biometrics, and analyze and interpret the findings to come up with a full diagnosis for our patients. For us, this is just part of treating each individual holistically.

FHE Health 8-tier Neuro Treatment Rehabilitation Program Looks Like This:

  • Comprehensive Neuropsychological Testing – After residential treatment intake a person struggling with drug and alcohol addiction will undergo a complete neuropsychological assessment so to better determine the most effective treatment necessary for the individual patient. This evaluation takes into account the functionality of the brain in the different centers of the brain that are affected by persistent drug and alcohol abuse. This process includes a kind of brain mapping that can help doctors assess the patient’s current situation as well as monitor your brain health as you move through the treatment process. It also takes into account symptoms and clinical history.
  • Heart Rate Variability & Biosound Monitoring – FHE Health focuses on a holistic approach to treatment. Because of that part of the 8 tier neurological treatment includes treating neurological issues that are harming the body. Heart Rate Variability & Biosound Monitoring monitor the pulse, a patient’s blood pressure and their respiratory functions. Inducing something like the first stage of sleep patients are given a variety of audio selections to spurr positive affirmations and self worth.
  • Quantitative Electroencephalography (qEEG) – Quantitative Electroencephalography, or qEEG, is a scientific testing using sensitive electrodes placed on the patient to record the electrical activity in the brain. After the test the results are analyzed for dysregulation, or those that are acting abnormally. This can give doctors a baseline of brain function to work for. The patient’s brain is compared to a database of hundreds of others that function in a normative way.
  • QEEG-Guided Neurofeedback Training – After the Quantitative Electroencephalography maps the patient’s brain, the analysis should reveal any areas of the brain that are functioning significantly abnormally. The clinicians at FHE Health will then move forward to create a plan of treatment based on the specific neurofeedback training of the patient at hand. Neurofeedback training is unique to the individual and is done to retrain the brain to regulate the areas of the brain suffering from the effects of drug and alcohol addiction, thus encouraging the brain to regulate itself and correct the errors currently occurring in functionality. This form of treatment uses rewards to teach the brain to manage itself. The rewards come in the form of movies or stimulus appearing fully on a screen when the brain is working functionally. When it is not functioning properly the movie or stimulus will not appear fully on the screen. The more fully functional the movie, the more fully functional the patient’s brain, and visa versa.
  • Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy – Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy includes transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy and transcranial direct current stimulation which deliver safe, low level, high frequency electrical currents to parasympathetic nerves in the face and neck in order to produce an experience of relaxation. These treatments help to treat brain injuries and psychiatric conditions. Stress responses of the treatment are monitored by state of the art technology to assure proper treatment.
  • High Frequency Pulsed Electromagnetic Stimulation Therapy – Similar to Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy, in high frequency pulsed electromagnetic stimulation therapy utilizes electromagnetic pulses to promote optimal brain activity. Continuous electromagnetic pulses are applied to the scalp, neuronal activity is then increased in the cortical and subcortical regions, just beneath the pulses that are administered to the patient. This increases the likelihood of neuron depolarization. Improved neural function an help to counteract brain dysfunction due to substance abuse.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy – Deep brain stimulation therapy uses an electromagnetic coil that sends safe pulses to the patient’s brain. This is a cutting edge technology that is used to combat the symptoms of major depressive disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as other mental health disorders that are characterized by neurological dysfunction.
  • Computerized Cognitive Brain Training – Computerized cognitive brain training uses a software to work in tandem with the patient’s brain mapping that happens early in treatment. The computer programs are made to stimulate the patient’s brain through multiple cognitive tasks. These programs help a patient’s brain work back to normal function and to combat the symptoms caused by addiction disorder but can also combat some mental health disorder function.

This kind of holistic care is second to none. FHE Health is thorough because we know that dual diagnosis needs to be fought with all of the means possible.

At FHE Health medical detox centers in Florida, psychiatric services and medical services are both offered to our patients. FHE employs a dedicated and licensed medical staff as well as a highly qualified group of therapists to work with those who suffer from drug and alcohol dependency and co-occurring disorders. We structure each treatment program per the individual patient because we know that each person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction comes with their own set of individual needs and concerns. Call FHE Health today to learn more about our programs, and how we can help you or someone you love who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

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