Exploring the Link Between Adhd, Trauma, and Alcohol Misuse
Being a woman with ADHD often feels like you’re trying to navigate a world that doesn’t quite fit you. Everyday challenges with focus, organization, and overwhelming emotions can lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy, especially when the world doesn’t seem to understand or accommodate your needs. When you add a history of trauma into the mix, these feelings can become even more intense, leading some to use alcohol as a temporary escape from the pain.
The Impact of Trauma on Adhd
- What is Trauma? Trauma is an event or series of events that cause significant distress and affect your ability to cope. It can come from experiences like abuse, neglect, violence, or sudden loss.
- Effects on Mental Health: Trauma can deeply affect mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- Complications for ADHD: For those with ADHD, trauma can make symptoms and challenges even worse, affecting focus, feelings of belonging, and emotional regulation.
ADHD and Trauma: What the Research Says
- Genetic Link: There is a genetic link between ADHD and alcohol use disorders (AUD), meaning the same genes can influence both conditions.
- Unnoticed or Untreated: Among adults with AUD, 20% also have ADHD, but this often goes unnoticed or untreated.
- Trauma as a Key Factor: Those with ADHD who are dependent on alcohol are more likely to have experienced trauma and are at greater risk of developing severe PTSD symptoms that affect their daily lives.
The Link Between ADHD, Trauma and Alcohol Misuse
- What is Alcohol Misuse? Alcohol misuse means using alcohol in a way that harms your physical and mental health.
- Higher Risk for ADHD: People with ADHD are more likely to have alcohol-related problems, engage in heavy drinking, struggle to control their alcohol intake, and develop alcohol use disorders.
- Using Alcohol to Cope: Those with ADHD and a history of trauma may use alcohol to cope with anxiety, depression, or hyperarousal linked to trauma. Unfortunately, this self-medication can lead to a cycle of alcohol misuse and worsen existing ADHD symptoms.
ADHD and Trauma
ADHD is linked to PTSD among AUD inpatients. A study found that AUD patients who self-harmed had a higher risk of significant ADHD symptoms and had experienced more childhood trauma, specifically physical neglect. This suggests a link between self-harm, past physical neglect, and current ADHD-related inattentiveness in AUD patients.
Little t trauma
The intricate relationship between ADHD, trauma, and alcohol misuse in women is further complicated by the accumulation of “little t traumas,” which although may seem less severe or ongoing, can significantly affect an individual’s mental health over time. These traumas, such as ongoing emotional abuse, chronic stress, or childhood neglect, may not cause PTSD but can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that intersect with the challenges faced by many, if not all, women with ADHD. This highlights the need for a nuanced and compassionate approach in addressing the multifaceted struggles faced by women with ADHD.
Are you struggling with these issues?
Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can with the tools you have right now. It’s okay to seek help and acknowledge that you’re struggling.
- Seek Support: Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, seek support from a therapist or support group, or explore different treatment options.
- Be Kind to Yourself: Healing is a journey with ups and downs, and that’s okay. What’s important is to approach yourself with kindness and compassion at every step.
References for Adhd Trauma and Alcohol Use
- El Ayoubi, H., et al. (2020). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Is Highly Comorbid With Adult ADHD in Alcohol Use Disorder Inpatients. Journal of Attention Disorders, 25, 1594 – 1602.
- Evren, C., et al. (2017). Relationship of self-mutilative behaviour with history of childhood trauma and adult ADHD symptoms in a sample of inpatients with alcohol use disorder. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, 9, 231-238.
- Luderer, M., et al. (2021). Alcohol use disorders and ADHD. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 128, 648-660. Link to Article