What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common mental issue that negatively impacts a person’s attention span, activity levels or both. There are multiple subtypes of ADHD, some of which affect energy levels more prominently and others that severely decrease attention span. Most every teen with ADHD shares one thing, though: the unpleasant feeling that they cannot quite organize their brain so that it works properly.
Signs of ADHD
Every teen is different, so ADHD does not manifest in any single fashion. However, there are a number of symptoms that can point to possible ADHD. Many suffering teens have trouble in school, because it is so tough for them to focus on the topic at hand. Thus, academic performance is often incongruent with intelligence. Their emotional growth is slower than that of their peers, so teens with ADHD tend to feel isolated. Their poor impulse control can cause them to interrupt others; consequently, they often have difficulty in building and maintaining friendships.
Prior to receiving a diagnosis, teens under age 18 must consistently exhibit at least seven specific symptoms of ADHD. A teen with ADHD might have difficulty when asked to:
- Listen closely
- Follow directions
- Stick with a task until it’s complete
- Complete a task that’s so complex it must be planned out in advance
- Learn from a past mistake
- Stay still
- Refrain from interrupting
- Avoid impulsivity
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Teens with ADHD often have poor impulse control. Coupled with social isolation and low self-esteem due to the limitations of their condition, this is a recipe for substance abuse. It is much easier to reach for drugs or alcohol than it is to deal with the constant discomfort of ADHD symptoms.
In some cases, parents can intervene successfully to prevent their child from abusing substances. However, 65% of children with ADHD also have difficulties with authority, and these teens respond to direct commands with defiance. Although this trait can complicate treatment, we have helped many teens overcome addiction and learn to work with their ADHD.
Treating ADHD and Substance Abuse
Teens with attention disorders require specialized treatment that addresses not only their addiction but also their ADHD. We at Next Generation Village take a holistic approach to treatment, and integrate medicinal intervention with therapeutic life skill lessons. Our goal is not only to help your teen get sober for good, but also to teach them how to manage their ADHD symptoms for a lifetime.
Over the past several decades, great advances have been made in chemical ADHD treatment. Much of the time, ADHD results from some mixups in brain chemistry and medications can serve to fill in those gaps. For example, dopamine is one chemical that is responsible for connecting “thought passageways” in the brain. It tells the brain when a pleasurable activity (such as eating candy, for those with a sweet tooth) will occur. In the ADHD brain, there is often not enough dopamine to create motivation for action.
Medications such as Adderall and Ritalin serve to boost brain chemical activity up to normal levels. Medications only work for as long as the user takes them, though. But for about 85% of teens struggling with ADHD, medication is an effective solution. Only a doctor can decide if ADHD medication is right for your teen.
Not every symptom of ADHD can be fixed with medication. That is why we focus on behavior adjustment as well. This form of therapy is similar to coaching, in that specific skills are taught in a specific fashion. For example, teens at Next Generation Village learn proven techniques that help them listen to others, absorb messages, follow directions, and many other common ADHD-related struggles.
Get Integrated Treatment for Your Teen
It is incredibly important that your teen gets help while they are still young, as ADHD usually follows sufferers for their entire lives. We at Next Generation Village are experts at treating substance abuse in teens who have ADHD. Our holistic approach ensures that your teen is treated like a human being, and receives more than medication. Get in touch with us to discuss your teen’s unique circumstance, and learn how Next Generation Village can help pave the way for lifelong sobriety.