ADD and ADHD, Are They The Same or Different?

Last Updated: Sep 21st 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

ADHD is a mental illness that usually begins and is diagnosed during one’s childhood and continues into adulthood. However, more and more people with ADHD are diagnosed these days in adulthood. Some because they slipped through the medical diagnosis cracks as children, and some are diagnosed as having “adult onset add/adhd”. Someone with ADHD or ADD may find that the disorder interferes in their everyday life and activities at home, work, or school.

What’s The Difference?

According to Webmd, ADD is a type of ADHD that doesn’t present as hyperactive with a constant movement and high energy. In 1994 Scientists deemed all forms of attention deficit disorder would fall under the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder category regardless of the energy level that the individual living with the disorder exhibited. This has caused substantial confusion, for those who suspect that they or their child may be suffering from attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

Signs and Symptoms of Someone Struggling with ADD or ADHD

  • Aggression
  • High energy
  • Excitable
  • Habitually fidgeting
  • Wrestless
  • Hyperactive
  • Impulsive
  • Irritable
  • Lacking in self restraint
  • Forgetful
  • Repetition of words
  • Repetition of actions
  • Short attention span
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Near constant boredom
  • Depression
  • Learning disorders
  • Mood swings
  • Absent mindedness
  • Distractedness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Disorganization
  • Daydreaming
  • Spur of the moment decisions

ADD/ADHD Nature or Nurture, the Origins of a Disorder

Nature – Genetic or Hereditary Factors

  • Family history of ADD or ADHD
  • Family history of mental illness in general

Nurture – Environmental Factors

  • Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use in pregnant mothers
  • Premature birth
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Exposure to chemical substances
  • Exposure to pesticides
  • Exposure to lead
  • Exposure to certain food additives
  • Brain injuries
  • Trauma from events such as childhood abuse, being a veteran of war, natural disasters, being the victim of or witnessing a violent crime, among others
  • Other mental illnesses can trigger ADHD

Co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis come in all different types and so the body and mind react to them with different side effects. A dual diagnosis with ADD/ADHD will present in much the same way ADD/ADHD does without addiction, but may also trigger the development of an addiction and misuse of the ADD/ADHD medication the person is utilizing to treat their symptoms. Adderall and Ritalin, while safe when taken as directed by a doctor, can become addictive if misused. It is also true, of course that patients with ADD/ADHD may develop other sorts of addictions to drugs like other amphetamines like meth for example, opioids, alcohol, sedatives and others.

Luckily if someone suffering from ADD/ADHD also becomes addicted to their medication or any type of substance they can find help at a residential detox facility. 1st Step Behavioral Health’s detox, Broward County drug rehab, offers a holistic and comprehensive kind of dual diagnosis treatment and therapy. Call us today to learn about how you can get treatment for both your ADD/ADHD and your substance use disorder simultaneously to ensure a firmer sober foundation.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.