ADHD and Addiction

This is one of those frustration posts.

I have been learning about PTSD, adverse childhood experiences, etc. My husband was in AA for 30 years. I was reading “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Mate, a Canadian physician. One of the appendices was about ADHD and addiction and he talked about how “inevitable” the connection is. I flashed back to my decades in the recovery community and how extremely ADHD some of the people (adults and children) in it were. The connection is well-researched and established. Peer-reviewed and everything.

Why the hell isn’t this more common knowledge?

The neurotransmitter pathways are the same in the two disorders. ADHD people often use caffeine and alcohol to modulate their moods. I’ve seen this, up close and personal. The problem? If you have to use something as toxic as booze to control your moods, you already have one foot in alcoholism. It’s almost like being pre-addicted.

I now see people differently. I see the alcoholics in my life as undiagnosed ADHD people and I see the ADHD people as potential alcoholics that caught the issue at an earlier stage.

It’s like the ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) study in the 1990s. This was done over twenty years ago. The knowledge has been out there for decades now.

Even the Southern Baptists (or at least one of them) is starting to see the societal implications. Al Mohler, one of the smarter Southern Baptists online, talks about the new Disney movie “Cruella” about the villainess’s pre-“101 Dalmatians” life on his blog:

“There must not be something deeply evil inside a human being that runs against our pride. It must be that something has happened to people. So these newer tales tell us something of the psychotherapeutic revolution that has taken place around this as well. Cruella is not really evil, she just had a very, very hard life.”

He is practically quoting the title of Perry and Winfrey’s book “What Happened to You?” The book is about trauma, of course. Mohler’s thinly-veiled contempt at healing and recovery does not bode well for conservative Christianity in our country.

The problem with Mohler’s analysis is the usual one for conservative Christians: a total lack of empathy. A complete absence of loving inquiry as to how people–even villains–come to be as they are. A maintenance of stereotypes at the expense of people’s humanity. And then they are mystified as to why people who desire healing and wholeness avoid Christianity altogether.

I only got turned on to the whole PTSD thing by my psychoanalyst. She recommended the Crappy Childhood Fairy to me. The Fairy turned me on to Pete Walker. Somehow I heard about Gabor Mate. These people explained so much that thirty years of therapy and being in Al-Anon didn’t explain to me.

I just get so frustrated that this knowledge has been out there for so long and I’m just hearing about it now. We have the answers–and have had them for decades. I could have saved myself so many years I wasted in churches that do not now and never will have any useful answers. Theology is no substitute for love and connection, which can be found without any belief in a deity whatsoever. If only I had known.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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