Addiction, ADHD & the Antisocial Behavior Connection


Brian M. Murray, MS, IMH


Addiction and adults with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), particularly men, can be a problem. It is a problem because there is a street fix for ADHD that often leads to antisocial behavior in the form of getting into trouble with the law. Here is how this works. ADHD in children and adults is frequently medicated with prescription drugs such as Adderall (Dextroamphetamine/Amphetamine) which are psycho-stimulants that enable the ADHD sufferer to focus. As a result, they can focus better at work, school and other areas of life in which they previously had trouble.


What happens when a person becomes an adult and they still have ADHD symptoms? Finding a medical doctor to prescribe proper medication is paramount. However, if this is not done, they can begin to find alternative ways to fix their problem often in the form of caffeine or other “approved” psycho-stimulant products that imitate “speed”. On the street, illegal psycho-stimulant drugs can be found in the form of cocaine, speed, crack-cocaine, methamphetamine, candy, blow, ice, crank, black beauties, uppers, drivers, rock, snow, toot, bump, rock and the list goes on. For someone who has ADHD they are not necessarily drawn by the addiction of the chemical itself as they are the side effects. Side effects of stimulants include mental alertness and feelings of exhilaration. What happens when these illegal psycho-stimulant drugs are consumed is the opposite of being hyperactive; they begin to calm down and are able to focus better on life around them, which brings some relief. This is basically why legal “speed” is prescribed (for relief) under medical care.


How is this connected to antisocial behavior? Think about it for a minute: a person who has trouble staying focused often has trouble following direction. They struggle to hold jobs, relationships and frequently get arrested for the same reason. Law enforcement tells them to do something and their inability to focus gives reason for arrest. This, in affect, becomes a difficult situation where a jobless person who cannot focus and has a need for a drug to allow them to focus often turns to stealing to get more money to pay for the illegal drugs. It’s a hamster wheel, so to speak, and becomes difficult to break out of.


How does a person get off the hamster wheel of this addiction cycle? It is going to take intervention such that the addicted person can get off the street and into a safe place with access to medical care. Controlled medications are often the most recommended way of beginning the process of building their life. There are other naturally occurring methods of getting this under control, such as a daily exercise regimen and other naturally occurring stimulants such as caffeine. However, first and foremost is getting a physical evaluation by a medical doctor.


If you know of someone who this way of life seems to fit this description, it may be time to step in as often, people caught in the hamster wheel lifestyle are hopeless and basically waiting on a miracle to happen. Family can be a huge asset as well as local rehab sources such as The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center commonly known as the ARC.  

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