The Link Between ADHD And Alcohol Addiction Explained

7 min read
Apr 11, 2024 3:24:00 PM
The Link Between ADHD And Alcohol Addiction Explained

Suffering from ADHD can be a challenge - especially when trying to manage your symptoms. In some cases, people have turned to alcohol to try and alleviate some of their symptoms.


At Rehubs, we have helped hundreds of people overcome an alcohol addiction and maintain their sobriety with our resources. 


Research has shown that there is a strong link between alcohol addiction and those who have the medical condition ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).


But why does this happen? Let's take a look and discuss the potential impacts alcohol can have on those with ADHD and why people with ADHD may turn to alcohol. 


We’ll also be discussing how you can kickstart your recovery journey if you are struggling with addiction - it's time to take back control! 

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It's characterised by symptoms such as:

  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty paying attention


Those with ADHD often find it challenging to focus on tasks, follow instructions, or maintain organisation, leading to significant disruptions in their daily lives.

Using Alcohol to Relieve ADHD Symptoms

Using alcohol as a short-term solution to managing your ADHD symptoms can stem from a variety of factors, but it is important to understand that this approach is ultimately ineffective and can lead to further complications and addiction. 


Here are some reasons why individuals with ADHD might turn to alcohol as a temporary coping mechanism:

Immediate Relief

People may use alcohol as a way to manage their ADHD symptoms as they believe it provides temporary relief from symptoms such as impulsivity, hyperactivity and anxiety.


However, this is not the case, as although you may find it reduces these symptoms slightly in the short term, in the long term, it can cause the symptoms to be more severe and lead to addiction. 

Coping with Boredom or Restlessness

If you suffer from ADHD, you may experience difficulty with boredom, restlessness, and a constant need for stimulation. 


Alcohol's sedative effects may temporarily alleviate feelings of restlessness and provide a sense of relaxation.


However, alcohol is not the solution. It will not help you to manage your ADHD symptoms - it is a highly addictive substance that can cause a lot of problems to your health and well-being.


Impulsivity is a common symptom among those with ADHD, making it more likely for you to act impulsively, such as making spontaneous decisions about drinking alcohol.


In moments of impulsivity or distress, you may turn to alcohol as a quick, instinctive response without fully considering the potential consequences.

Social Pressure

If you have ADHD, you may find certain social situations challenging, and you may turn to alcohol to feel a sense of relief from the pressures of socialising.


In social settings where alcohol consumption is common and everyone else around you is consuming it, you may feel pressure to drink to fit in, alleviate social anxiety, or cope with feelings of inadequacy.


Remember that you do not have to drink alcohol if you do not want to just ‘fit in’. You are enough as yourself and drinking alcohol won't make people like you more than they already do! 


Alcohol may calm your social anxiety for a short time, but after a short while, you will begin to feel stronger anxiety. 


To manage this, consider avoiding the social settings that bring you anxiety and surround yourself with people and places that make you feel good about yourself and comfortable.

How Does Alcohol Affect Those with ADHD?

Alcohol can feel like a temporary escape for those with ADHD - however, it is important to remember that alcohol affects people with and without ADHD differently.


Research suggests that alcohol can affect the neurotransmitter systems in the brain, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine. 


If you have ADHD, these neurotransmitters are already imbalanced - and consuming alcohol can cause the imbalance to intensify your ADHD symptoms, leading to increased impulsivity, impaired judgement, and difficulty regulating emotions. 

Alcohol and ADHD Medication

Alcohol and ADHD medication do not go well together - it is not something you should mix.

It can cause serious health complications and severely increase your ADHD symptoms. Here are some reasons why drinking alcohol and consuming ADHD medication is not a good idea:

Medication Effectiveness

Alcohol will reduce the effect your medication will have on managing your symptoms. Making your symptoms feel more severe as the medication won't be able to work the way it should. This can cause you to feel distracted and find it difficult to maintain concentration.

Increased Side Effects

You may not often feel the more uncommon negative side effects of ADHD medication - however, if you consume alcohol alongside your medication, you are at higher risk of feeling:

  • Dizzy 
  • Drowsy
  • Nauseous


This combination can make it harder to think clearly and affect how well you move, raising the chances of accidents or injuries.

Cardiovascular Risks

Some ADHD medications, particularly stimulants, can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Alcohol can also have cardiovascular effects, such as increased heart rate and vasodilation. 


Combining alcohol with stimulant medications can strain the cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart problems or cardiovascular problems.

Masking Alcohol's Effects

Consuming alcohol with ADHD medication may cause you to not feel the effect alcohol is having on your body. You may not feel the sedative effects of alcohol as strongly, leading you to underestimate your level of intoxication.


This can cause alcohol-related accidents and even alcohol poisoning as you may drink more than you should to feel the desired effects that you aren't feeling because of the medication you are on.

Liver Function

Both alcohol and certain ADHD medications are processed in the liver. Mixing them can lead to serious liver problems such as liver inflammation, fatty liver disease, or even liver failure in more severe cases.

Alcohol Addiction Symptoms

There are many symptoms and stages of alcohol addiction and they are split into sections, behavioural, physical and psychological. Recognising the signs of an alcoholic addiction is important - they can include:


  • Lying about consuming alcohol and hiding it 
  • Neglecting your responsibilities, work, school, relationships
  • Continuing to drink despite it making you feel negative
  • Spending a significant amount of time drinking and recovering from drinking
  • Risky behaviours such as unsafe sex and drunk driving


  • Increased tolerance, needing more alcohol to reach desired effects
  • Blackouts and memory lapses related to alcohol
  • Liver damage
  • Withdrawal symptoms, tremors, sweats, nausea, mood swings
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Heart problems and increased risk of heart attack
  • Anxiety


  • Alcohol cravings
  • Irritability
  • Using alcohol to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Struggling to concentrate and remember things
  • Denial of your problem
  • Depression and anxiety


If you feel you are struggling with any of these symptoms or even feel you are in the early stages of developing an addiction, you must reach out to somebody you trust and talk about how you are feeling. Let us help you!  

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

Struggling with an addiction can be extremely challenging, but finding the appropriate help can help on your journey to sobriety.

Support Groups

Participating in support groups specifically tailored to individuals with ADHD and alcohol addiction can provide valuable peer support, encouragement, and accountability. 


Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) may offer specialised meetings or resources for individuals with ADHD.


Talking and engaging with people in similar situations can help you to identify your problem and motivate you to make a change.

Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can really help individuals dealing with both ADHD and alcohol addiction. CBT is all about recognising and changing unhelpful thoughts and actions. It helps people develop ways to handle cravings and triggers, and it can improve how they control impulses and make decisions.


Utilising an at-home rehab system like Rehubs may be a better option than traditional inpatient rehab for those suffering from ADHD. 


At Rehubs, we offer a safe and empowering environment to help guide you through your recovery in the comfort of your own home around those who are the closest to you.


Some of the reasons you may want to consider at-home rehab include: 


Familiar Environment - If you struggle with changes in routine, undergoing rehabilitation at home allows you to heal in a safe place where you are familiar and comfortable. This can reduce stress and anxiety that you may associate with unfamiliar settings.


Flexibility - At-home rehab has a schedule that suits you, you can recover at home at your own pace and access support at the click of a button. You will still receive the same amount of support as you would in an inpatient rehabilitation facility just this way you are in control. If you have commitments and a busy schedule this is the best option for you.


Personalised Support - Family members and loved ones can play a more active role in supporting you during at-home rehab. Having a strong support system in place can provide encouragement, accountability, and emotional support throughout the recovery process.


Minimal Distractions - Distractions can pose significant challenges if you struggle with ADHD, making it difficult to focus on treatment goals and activities. At-home rehab allows individuals to control their environment and minimise distractions, creating a more conducive setting for recovery.


Continuity of Care -The transition between different treatment settings can feel disruptive if you are struggling with ADHD. Recovering in the same place you struggled with the addiction may help you to not associate ‘home’ with addiction and associate it more with recovery and peace instead. At-home rehab provides continuity of care by giving consistent support and interventions within the same environment, promoting stability and progress in recovery.

At Home Rehab and ADHD

Today, the world has adapted to the fast-growing world of technology - so why shouldn't rehab? Here at Rehubs, we have created a program where you can recover from the comfort of your own home without it getting in the way of your commitments.


We understand addiction has already taken a big chunk away from life, so we don't want you to miss out on making any more memories with those who mean the most to you. Our rehab program can be accessed 24/7 at a time that suits you.


Here at Rehubs, we are here to help you. With our team of caring professionals, we can help you to maintain the ultimate abstinence and start a path to a happier healthier life where you can manage your ADHD symptoms sober and more effectively in a safe and recognised environment.


Don't struggle with this addiction any longer  - you deserve to recover! 


Consult with one of our addiction specialists today and start by filling out your online assessment, to help determine whether this is the best option for you. An addiction specialist will then be in touch to discuss what you can expect from rehab at home.

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