There is a strong relationship between adhd and addiction. One choice that is a real fit for adhd women is smoking.

 In fact, adhd is one of the most common risk factors for developing an addiction. Adhd can lead to impulsive behaviors and an inability to control impulses, both of which can contribute to substance abuse. Adhd can also make it difficult to cope with stress and negative emotions, which can also lead to substance abuse. However, it is important to note that not all people with adhd will become addicted to smoking. Some people with adhd are able to smoke without becoming addicted, while others may develop an addiction despite not having adhd.Why do people with ADHD like to smoke. This page will explain some of what we know about smoking and ADHD. It may or may not be true for you!

Why do some  people with ADHD like to smoke?

People with ADHD report that it makes them feel good and regulates their ADHD symptoms. Research shows it can increase hyperactivity, but it may improve focus. People also say it calms thatm down. A recent review of all the research concludes that it isn’t just nicotine but increased dopamine receptor availability provided by smoking that may explain why ADHD people have these issues. Lack of dopamine is related to associated symptoms of reduced attention regulation and impulsivity in people with ADHD.

Studies have also shown genetic overlaps between genes associated with smoking behavior and ADHD.


What do the stats tell us about ADHD and smoking?

People with Adhd are more likely to smoke than their non-adhd peers.

  • About twice as likely to smoke.
  • ADHD’ers are likely to smoke longer.
  • ADHD’ers are likley to have a harder time quitting
  • They are likely to start much earlier.

Is it harder for people with ADHD to quit smoking?

According to an article in Attention magazine, ADHD smokers relapse more often and suffer more emotional dysregulation and withdrawal symptoms.  ALthough symptoms of emotional dysregulation appear in most people that have ADHD they aren’t in the current DSM. One of the most challenging aspects of adhd is difficulty with emotional regulation. Individuals with adhd may have a hard time identifying and expressing their emotions, and they may also have difficulty controlling impulsive behaviors. When stopping an addictive drug, it may be necessary to have these abilities.

Therapists can help teach you some of the  skills for managing your  emotions, and they can provide support and understanding during times of distress but medication also helps with emtional regulation so it makes sense to look at getting these two things on board before trying to quit. You can learn about emotional dysregulation symptoms  here 

4. So, how can I quit?

Lirio Covey, PhD, professor of clinical psychology in Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry, has investigated how people with ADHD can quit smoking. Here is her advice:

  1. She states it often requires several attempts to quit.
  2. Nicotine nasal spray is most effective.
  3. She said that most depression and anxiety will decrease. Although for some few, depression will emerge and need to be treated
  4. Methylphenidate reduced ADHD symptoms but did not improve quit rate.

To sum it up:

Adhd people are at risk of smoking earlier and having more trouble quitting due to nicotine possibly relieving some of their symptoms and genes. 

Quitting make take more than one try, using nasal spray and appropriate medication for their ADHD and possible treatment for depression if it emerges, although this is less likely. While quitting smoking may seem daunting for those with ADHD, it is not impossible. With the help of medication and therapy, along with support from family and friends, many people have been able to quit smoking for good. Don’t give up if you are struggling with an addiction to nicotine; there are treatments available that can help you overcome your struggles. Remember, quitting smoking and improving your health is never too late!

ADHD and smoking references

Taylor MR, Carrasco K, Carrasco A, Basu A (2022). Tobacco and ADHD: A Role of MAO-Inhibition in Nicotine Dependence and Alleviation of ADHD Symptoms. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 16. 845646-.

Four things people with ADHD should know about smoking. Columbia University Irving Medical Center. (2015, September 14). Retrieved August 17, 2022, from

Cigarettes and ADHD: A robust relationship that’s hard to break. CHADD. (2022, May 24). Retrieved August 17, 2022, from break/#:~:text=Smokers%20with%2n.d.HD%20struggle%20even,including%20craving%20and%20negative%20mood

Low, K. (n.d.). Why people with ADHD are more likely to smoke cigarettes. Verywell Mind. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from

Love, T. (n.d.). 2019 Annual International Conference on ADHD. In The Intersection of ADHD and Addiction: Myths and Truths. Philadelphia.