The U.S. is struggling with its fight against the rise of opiate addiction and overdose. Abuse of heroin continues to be an issue, but the silent damage is being done by the misuse of prescription opioids: painkillers. Between 1999-2015, over 180,000 people have died from opioid overdoses. And over 1,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms daily for opioid related accidents or side effects. This is an unfortunate challenge that our country is faced because not only are we dealing with illicit drugs, but medically legal drugs as well.
There’s been a connection to ADHD and opiate addiction. There’s no single reason to explain why people with ADHD are more likely to abuse opioids and become addicted. We should always look at addicts individually and examine specific personal issues to reduce these risks. However, one factor could be the impulsive behaviors associated with ADHD. This could make them more likely to exceed the prescribed dosage. People with ADHD also seek stimulation and entertainment. They can be easily frustrated and bored, so they turn to drugs to help feel more pleasure.
ADHD has also been linked to chronic pain. Since opioids are pain relievers, this puts them at higher risk for abuse. Chronic pain is difficult to understand and needs to be examined in depth. Some doctors just sort to a quick fix and prescribe pain relievers. Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercise, and lifestyle changes can help. There are patients who feel like their pain isn’t taken seriously unless they’re prescribed medication. Good doctors will try to figure out why you have pain and suggest ways to help without masking the issues. The U.S. consumes more opioids than any other country in the world. In 2013 alone, 200 million opioid prescriptions were written.
It doesn’t help that many adults aren’t properly diagnosed with ADHD. Many people see it as a children’s disorder, but it doesn’t necessarily go away in adulthood. Not being diagnosed properly increases the risk of opioid and other addictions because no one is aware one’s vulnerability to serious symptoms (such as depression and anxiety).
This doesn’t mean people with ADHD shouldn’t be allowed pain relievers when they’re experiencing severe pain. We should prevent misuse with careful monitoring of prescriptions. Mental health professionals and primary care providers should work hand in hand to discuss safe treatments, possible alternatives first, and low doses.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and ADHD, or suspects that one might have ADHD, please contact Crownview Co-Occurring Institute to get in touch with a medical professional who can perform an evaluation and design a treatment plan. We have a team of medical professionals in psychology, nutrition, etc.. We work together, combining expertise from multiple angles, to make sure each individual is getting the best well-rounded care possible. We care about getting every patient healthy so they can live life to the fullest, free of addiction with a clear mind and free spirit.