ADHD vs. ADDLexie Walden
As researchers continue to gain a better understanding of mental illnesses, the terminology often shifts over time. This can create confusion, especially for those who receive a diagnosis of a mental health condition. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has evolved to encompass a more significant number of symptoms, leaving those with a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD) wondering where they now fit.
What is ADHD?
ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a type of neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning it impacts brain functioning. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorder in children. Those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder exhibit symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or a combination of the two. Often, those with this condition have both inattentive and hyperactive behaviors, but it is possible to display only one category of symptoms. While this is most often identified in children, some people receive a diagnosis later in life as well.
Difference Between ADD and ADHD
Up until the late 1980s, mental health and medical professionals differentiated between ADHD and ADD in their diagnoses. ADD refers to those with inattentive symptoms without hyperactivity. With the release of the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994, the American Psychiatric Association officially combined these two disorders under one diagnosis of ADHD. While many people still use the term ADD to describe those who primarily exhibit inattention, this is no longer accurate in the psychiatric community.
The purpose of this transition was to better describe symptoms and recognize the overlap between the two diagnoses. Now, the psychiatric community acknowledges that some people primarily exhibit hyperactivity, some inattention, and some a combination of both. However, all of these subtypes inhibit functioning and respond to similar treatment methods.
Do I Have ADD?
Symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can present differently depending on a person’s age, but the general categories of inattention and hyperactivity apply. Some common signs of the disorder include:
- Inability to focus on tasks for extended periods of time
- Feeling restless or unable to sit still
- Quickly moving from one activity or conversation to another
- Difficulty organizing tasks
- Excessive talking or frequently interrupting conversations
- Fails to follow through on assignments or commitments that require extensive mental effort
While this is not an all-inclusive list, these can be indicators of ADHD. However, an evaluation by a medical or mental health professional can rule out other potential diagnoses.
ADHD and Addiction
According to a study published in The American Journal of Addictions, more than 25% of adolescents with a substance use disorder meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. This often occurs because people will use drugs or alcohol to cope with symptoms of this disorder, especially those who are undiagnosed. This condition also impacts decision-making and impulse control which can make someone more susceptible to addiction. For those who have a diagnosis and are on medication, some become addicted to their prescription drugs, leading to substance misuse and addiction.
Treating ADHD and Substance Use Disorders
Managing an ADHD diagnosis alongside a substance use disorder can be complicated, but skilled providers can treat both. At Beach House, we offer a comprehensive dual diagnosis program for you or your loved one. Our treatment model emphasizes the importance of treating both conditions at the same time, resulting in better long-term outcomes for our clients. If you or someone you know would benefit from a dual diagnosis treatment program, contact us today.