Prescription Drug Abuse in Adults with Misdiagnosed ADHD

Prescription Drug Abuse in Adults with Misdiagnosed ADHDAccording to the American Psychological Association, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral condition marked by difficulty in focusing on everyday requests and routines. People with ADHD often have trouble staying organized and focused and are often restless and noisy.

In a 2013 article The Mayo Clinic listed other common behaviors associated with ADHD including the following:

  • Frequently daydreaming
  • Frequently losing items such as books, keys, or phone
  • Often failing to finish tasks or work assignments
  • Excessively talkative
  • Interrupting on others’ conversations
  • Difficulty remaining still
  • Seeming to be in constant motion

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 6.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, and the percentage of children with ADHD increased from approximately eight percent in 2003 to 11 percent in 2011 an average increase of five percent per year.

Misdiagnosis of ADHD

Unfortunately some children are misdiagnosed with ADHD. In many instances a child is misdiagnosed because he exhibits symptoms similar to ADHD. A 2010 article from Psych Central indicated that other causes of those symptoms come from a variety of issues including poor nutrition, head trauma, mental illness, learning disabilities, anxiety, giftedness and child abuse.

One major factor that has been shown to cause misdiagnosis of ADHD is the age of a child relative to peers in the same class. A 2010 article from CNN indicated that teachers often perceive ADHD symptoms in younger kids who are in a class of older students the same grade. Those younger children are misdiagnosed because their immature behavior (relative to the older peers) is mistaken for ADHD.

Medication and ADHD

In a majority of situations, children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed medication to help control their symptoms. Most often a doctor will prescribe Ritalin or Adderall. These medications help children and adults focus their thoughts and ignore distractions. However, if a child is misdiagnosed with ADHD and is given drugs to manage symptoms of the condition, he or she is at risk of becoming addicted to it as a young adult. Over time the body becomes physically dependent on the drug and will produce withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped. Psychological addiction can result as well. A person can begin to believe that he cannot function without the medication.

Prescription Drug Abuse and ADHD

A person who is misdiagnosed with ADHD will experience the effects of ADHD medication differently than someone who is correctly diagnosed with ADHD. According to a 2000 article from the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, someone without ADHD will experience an intense high accompanied by an intense euphoria much like the stimulating effects of cocaine. Accompanying those positive feelings are other side effects. Side effects of ADHD medication include the following:

  • Increased aggression
  • Urges to harm oneself
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Severe anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Anger

In order to alleviate these troubling side effects, a person may turn to other medications to alleviate them. Some may even become addicted to prescription drugs like Xanax.

Prescription Drug Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an estimated seven million people misused prescription drugs in 2010. Prescription depressants, opioids and antidepressants caused cause more deaths annually than heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamines combined. People misdiagnosed with ADHD may abuse prescription drugs in attempt to alleviate the side effects they experience from the ADHD medicine. They may abuse depressants like Xanax to alleviate the symptoms of aggression, anxiety, irritability and anger. Over time that person can become addicted to both Ritalin and other drugs like Xanax. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the year 2009 more than half of the visits to emergency departments for prescription abuse involved multiple drugs indicating that addiction to multiple drugs simultaneously is a common problem.

Treatment for Misdiagnosed ADHD and Prescription Drug Abuse

The first step in treating your drug addiction is finding the right treatment center for your situation. By doing a little research you can find treatment centers that specialize in both ADHD and prescription drug abuse. Because of the complication of withdrawal from multiple substances, do not stop taking the drugs cold turkey. You could experience severe side effects.

During treatment you will first undergo detox during which a physician will monitor both your withdrawal and your misdiagnosed ADHD symptoms. He or she will work with others on his team to diagnose any real medical symptoms that might have led to the wrong diagnosis. You will also be treated for any other medical conditions that arise. This underscores the importance of seeking professional help in overcoming your addiction.

During the rehab phase of treatment, you will evaluate reasons why you abused prescription drugs. You will also learn healthy ways of coping with those situations in the future such as stress management, therapy, or even meditation and exercise.

Getting Help for Your Addiction

If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription medications, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions counselors who understands the nuances of ADHD and the potential for prescription drug abuse. Together you can determine the best treatment protocol for your situation. Don’t allow prescription medication to destroy your life. Call us today, and start on the road of recovery.

Are you ready to seek treatment?

If you are ready to beat a Xanax addiction and start a new life in recovery then we can help. We have admission counselors standing by 24 hours a day to take your email, live chat request, or phone call to get you in the addiction treatment center that best fits your unique & specific needs.