Columbia University Medical Center
Ranked #1 in Psychiatry
U.S. News & World Report
Ranked #1 in Research Funding
National Institutes of Health
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Ask the Experts


Is it possible to suffer from ADHD and substance abuse? What treatment is available for dual diagnosis?

Answered by: Wilfred Van Gorp

Yes, it is not only possible, but the two frequently occur together.

The situation is complicated by some treatments for ADHD, which can involve medications that, themselves, have a potential for abuse. Therefore, before prescribing medications, your doctor may want the affected person to undergo testing for ADHD to document it is present, and to determine its level of severity.

Additionally, certain non-pharmacologic treatments for ADHD, such as behavioral counseling, may be helpful to treat the symptoms, without risking problems associated with abuse that accompany some of the stimulant medications often used to treat ADHD.