How Alcohol Affects Those with ADHD

How Alcohol Affects Those with ADHD?

The effects of alcohol on those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are well known. People suffering from ADHD often have trouble focusing or staying focused. They may get drunk and act out their worst behaviors without realizing it. Their behavior becomes erratic and they become violent, even dangerous when under the influence of alcohol. These same symptoms occur if someone has a substance abuse problem such as drug addiction or alcoholism.

Alcohol consumption affects many aspects of life including:

Physical Health Effects: Alcohol impairs physical health by causing dehydration, increased heart rate and blood pressure, liver damage and other problems. Drinking too much alcohol can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. It can affect your ability to drive a car safely. You could lose consciousness due to the effects of alcohol poisoning.

Mental Health Effects: Drinking too much alcohol can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks and hallucinations. If you drink heavily enough, you might experience blackouts. When you do blackout, your thoughts can go blank and you might not remember anything that happened while you were intoxicated. Blackout episodes happen frequently during heavy drinking sessions. You might also feel like going into a coma after having one of these episodes.

Social Aspects of Drinking: Alcohol can cause you to do things that you would not normally do. This is especially true if you are drinking with people that you do not know well. You might engage in embarrassing conversations, pick fights with people or even commit crimes such as vandalism or sexual assault while under the influence of alcohol.

Legal Consequences: People with drinking problems sometimes end up losing their jobs. This is especially true if they work in careers such as construction or other positions that are safety-critical. In many cases, drinking too much alcohol can get you arrested. You might break laws while you are under the influence of this substance. This could range from driving under the influence to assault and even battery.

In some cases, people have spent time in jail due to their alcohol consumption.

Why is Alcohol so Addictive?

Alcohol is one of the hardest types of substances to give up. Many people get sober and then quickly relapse because they feel that their lives do not have any purpose anymore. In some cases, people suffer from delusions or hallucinations when they are going through alcohol withdrawal. They may even think that their family is out to get them or that they are being followed by the police. These delusions can last for months after you have stopped drinking.

Alcohol can be psychologically addicting due to:

The effects of alcohol: People like the way that it makes them feel. Some people say that it helps them to relax. It reduces their anxiety and causes them to be less inhibited.

Being part of a drinking culture: Some people feel like an outcast if they do not engage in regular drinking. This can lead to peer pressure and make you feel like you need to drink in order to fit in with your friends.

Triggers: You may associate drinking with certain people or events. If you used to always drink with your college buddies, you might go out and drink by yourself when you are feeling lonely. You may also feel sad when you don’t drink on holidays that you used to celebrate in a big way.

Does Alcohol Treatment Work?

Yes, but only if you go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In fact, most rehab facilities only provide a safe space for you to get sober. They do not treat the root cause of the problem. You can attend AA without being in rehab and it is highly recommended that you seek out a sponsor and go to at least 90 meetings in the first year of your sobriety. In order to help you stay sober, it is best if you develop a relationship with other people who are in recovery. You can reach out to them if you are feeling tempted to have a drink.

How to Stop Drinking Alcohol

Some people decide that the best way to stop drinking is to just go cold turkey. They get rid of all of their alcohol in their house and make a vow never to drink again. While this can work, it isn’t exactly recommended. Quitting “cold turkey” can lead to serious health consequences and can even cause death in some cases. This is because alcohol is a poison that slows down all of your bodily functions.

When you suddenly stop drinking, your body can’t keep up. This creates a wide range of symptoms such as:

Shaking

Nausea

Vomiting

Headaches

Loss of Appetite

This is why it is so important to wean yourself off of the alcohol instead. You can do this by mixing less alcohol with soda, juice, or any other beverage. You can also do what is called “beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, never fear.”

This means that you should alternate drinking beer and hard liquor when you are drinking. The alcohol content in each is very different and your body can handle more of the hard stuff since it absorbs into your system more slowly. Of course, this all goes out the window if you are chugging liquors or pounding beers.

A Good Mixer Is a Safe Mixer

Many people think that they are more likely to get in trouble from drinking too much if they are only mixing liquor. However, this isn’t necessarily true since it is possible to overdose on straight liquor as well. Plus, straight liquor doesn’t have the same deceitful hold that mixers do.

When you drink liquor, it goes straight to your blood stream and begins affecting your brain almost immediately. It takes awhile for your body to process the alcohol before it enters your blood stream again. This delay can lead you to think that it is safe to keep drinking since you feel fine at that moment.

When you drink alcohol mixed with a carbonated beverage or a juice, it tricks your brain into thinking that you are just drinking water. Your brain doesn’t realize the damage that the alcohol is causing until it is too late. Even if you start to feel sick, you are less likely to stop drinking since your mind has been fooled into believing that the drinks are harmless.

A Deadly Mix

Alcohol can be deadly no matter how it is consumed or in what form it comes in. However, some forms of alcohol are more likely to cause an overdose than others. This is why it is so important to watch how much you are drinking on a regular basis. If you are going out, it might be a good idea to stay close to your friends and make sure that someone knows where you are at all times.

If you do end up feeling sick from drinking, go find a place to lie down and have one of your sober friends check on you every hour. In extreme cases, you may need to get medical attention so that your stomach can be pumped. This is important since alcohol poisoning can lead to death in some cases.

Staying Safe

The absolute best way to avoid a nasty hangover or worse is to know your limit and stick to it. The only way you are going to know your limit is by experimenting and tracking how many drinks it takes for you to feel the affects. Remember, everybody is different so what affects one person severely may have little to no effect on another.

Since each body is a little different, you may find that your limit changes from day to day. This can depend on a wide range of factors such as:

Food Intake – Certain foods can slow down the absorption of alcohol into your blood stream. Fiber is an excellent example since it helps your body expel it as waste instead of absorbing it. Hence, a big meal can give your body the time it needs to expel the alcohol before it can affect you. On the other hand, lack of food can speed up the absorption rate causing you to get drunk faster.

Stress Levels – If you are stressed out, your body tends to require more alcohol to get the same effect since your mind is focused on other matters instead of just having fun.

Fatigue – A tired body slows down the rate that your liver can filter the alcohol. As a result, the alcohol begins to build up in your blood causing greater effects than normal.

Weather – Warm weather tends to cause people to sweat more. Since your body is expelling waste, it tends to speed up the expulsion of alcohol as well. As a result, you feel the affects faster. Cold weather has the opposite effect since your body tries to conserve heat by not expelling as much waste resulting in a slower absorption rate.

Age and Gender – As you get older, your body tends to filter alcohol less efficiently. Women also have a lower alcohol tolerance than men since they generally have less water weight than men. Their bodies tend to be made up of a greater amount of fat and muscle than men resulting in a faster absorption rate.

To ensure that you don’t go over your limit, you can always drink water in between your alcoholic drinks. This helps to re-hydrate you and can also help slow the rate that the alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream.

Remember that there is no real way of determining whether you will get a hangover or not. Some people can drink heavily and feel fine the next day while others feel it the next morning and into the afternoon. It just depends on your body and how much you drank the night before.

If you do feel a hangover coming on, the best thing to do is drink lots of water and/or sports drinks to re-hydrate your body. You should also eat something like a banana or some bread since the natural sugars and starches in these foods can help settle your stomach.

Lastly, if you still really feel bad then there’s always the old “hair of the dog” remedy. This involves having just a small alcoholic drink to settle your stomach. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can help to slow down a racing mind at the cost of making you a little groggy. This remedy really only helps if you’re hung over and not suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Have fun, but remember to stay safe!

Sources & references used in this article:

A comparison of children affected by prenatal alcohol exposure and attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder by CD Coles, KA Platzman… – Alcoholism: Clinical …, 1997 – Wiley Online Library

Increased sensitivity to the disinhibiting effects of alcohol in adults with ADHD. by J Weafer, MT Fillmore, R Milich – Experimental and Clinical …, 2009 – psycnet.apa.org

Fetal alcohol exposure and attention: Moving beyond ADHD by CD Coles – Alcohol Research & Health, 2001 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov