Alcoholism, ADHD and Dopamine

Hello everyone. I’m 21 days in today.
I managed to sleep 2 hours (Insomnia) I woke up so dysregulated. I never really see anyone talk about having ADHD here. Anyone else?
I don’t take meds …yet… Its something I’m still debating. We’re dopamine seekers and I was diagnosed as an adult. I’m 42 now. (Weird, I was 20 yesterday lol) Alot of us with ADHD are dopamine seekers and have addictive personalities. I unfortunately feel into alcohol 20 years ago and it’s absolutely destroyed my life, and I say that in the most raw and honest way. I’d get more into that but I wanted to see if anyone else here has ADHD. There are many excuses I’d use for drinking (REASON is not the correct word for me anymore, if you know what I mean) I’d feel the way I feel now and I’d go and get something to drink to not feel this way. I feel like an empty shell this morning and I randomly started tearing up wanting to cry. I laid down with my sweet Bunny Jackies and I calmed down. (She’s saved me and still is)
I’ve drank for so long that I can’t recover the way I used to. I feel I’m on my death bed from the last times I drank. Being bed ridden for weeks not days. Falling from being dizzy and just wasting days being in bed day and night. Not being present for my sweet Bunny. (She’s my world :rabbit2::black_heart:) Something inside me feels different this time . So I’m doing my best.
I’m really going through a lot. I don’t have a job. I owe a months rent. I’m (I hate this word but) struggling at the moment. Financially and emotionally and my living situation is chaotic. I’m a very positive person always helping anyone else but I’ve separated myself from pretty much everyone and isolated myself. Especially this year.
Well my story is pretty long and I don’t want to ramble. Point is that I was seeing if anyone here was getting sober while having ADHD. This dysregulation can be debilitating… But let’s keep strong :love_you_gesture::black_heart::rabbit2::muscle:.
Happy sober day everyone…
My reason for existing :rabbit2::black_heart::black_heart::rabbit2: Her name is Jackie Skellington (Her dorky silly pose lol)


Hi Lidia! I was diagnosed with ADHD a few months ago at age 48. (I still think I’m 20! :joy:)

I’m not on medication aside for the Zoloft for anxiety and depression. But I do have an amazing therapist. I drank not so much for the dopamine hit, but more to quiet my racing mind. And when I was having a meltdown from everything being “too much”. I would just want to numb myself.

I’ve been working on finding other things that make me feel calmer and more at peace. Music, time in nature, time alone with my cats. And in therapy I’m addressing all the shame and feelings of failure that come with undiagnosed ADHD. I allow myself grace and compassion. Time to rest or recharge when I need it. Healthy sources of dopamine.

It’s definitely a journey. I’m currently 7 days sober, but had about 120 days earlier this year. I keep slipping back into old coping behaviors. But I’m working on it.

Nice to meet you!

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I was officially diagnosed 2.5 years ago after several years of suspecting I had ADHD. In the words of the assessing psychologist, “You have an extreme presentation of ADHD.” :rofl: Yep. Got it. (And now a bunch of stuff from my childhood - including my father’s behaviour, and his father’s behaviour too - makes perfect sense.)

I got the official diagnosis so I would have paperwork on file in case I needed to enforce something with the HR department at my work. My manager had a habit of comparing me with others, as though my mind and the way I work was the same. (It’s not. My process is different. I do fine, but I do it in ways that are sometimes wacky.) I wanted some solid medical grounding in case I needed to challenge him.

I’m also glad I got the diagnosis because it helps me see myself, fully and more clearly. A lot of loose pieces fall into place now. Is it easier? No. But there’s a roadmap, there’s lots of research and resources available, and I know where to start looking and learning.

In terms of my recovery, knowing that I have ADHD and that there are effective combinations of treatments helps me too. The chief cause of ADHD is a deficit of neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine (AKA adrenaline), and this is why A) people with ADHD are more likely to be drawn to situations of risk, because it stimulates adrenaline production (this can be dangerous especially for those with unacknowledged or untreated ADHD; people who don’t know how to explore risk in manageable ways); and B) people with ADHD seek out dopamine (the anticipation hormone) by putting themselves in situations of anticipation, of seeking the reward - exactly what an addiction is: always chasing the “reward”; always living in anticipation. It’s a dopamine mission.

(Incidentally this is also why the number of people with ADHD is higher among addicts; and why effective use of stimulant medication - which stimulates norepinephrine production and releases dopamine (exactly what people with ADHD need) - taken appropriately and as prescribed by a medical doctor, reduces the chance of developing an addiction: ADHD and Addiction | Nature Medicine)

Which is all to say, there’s a lot of us here! :innocent:

I don’t have any magic answers but I do believe talking about it is useful. Thanks for starting this thread :innocent:

For me, I treat my ADHD with several things in combination:

  • a positive and holistic perspective: I’m not broken; my mind has a different way of working, which means I am instinctively more of a connector and an innovator than most other people, and I need to seek support for more of the mundane management of life (so I have unique strengths which come with my ADHD, just like other people have unique strengths that come with their neurology)
  • medication, prescribed by my medical doctor and taken as prescribed
  • lots of reading and learning, for myself and for my spouse: any books by Dr’s Ed Hallowell or Thomas Brown are helpful; and there’s lots of well-informed, first person stories from people who live with or are married to ADHD - here’s the ones on my audiobook list now:

  • participation in learning groups and conferences: I have joined ADHD groups at a psychotherapy clinic in my city (the groups are about personal management strategies for living with ADHD - they’ve been helpful for the strategies, but I’ve also made some friends!), and I joined my national advocacy organization for ADHD, (I attend their annual conference, not every year but occasionally, it’s nice to be in a space dedicated to researching, learning, and growing with ADHD)

What are your goals? Do you have anything you’re looking for as your next step?


I got diagnosed with ADHD about 1,5 years ago (I’m 51). When I got sober (almost 3 years ago) I didn’t know yet I had ADHD. Getting sober was the first step to be able to dive into why the heck I was doing the things I did. In short I have let a tremendous impulsive life. Told that also to my fiancé at the time that we might need to take a a break or something so I could figure myself out, since I was feeling we were heading to a cliff. I/we didn’t take that step so we ended up falling into the cliff. That was the point I took another shot at sobriety (had 4 treatments before but nothing worked).

I always felt that I kind off drank for a reason, blaming my disfunctioneel upbringing and dysfunctional thyroid the most and everybody else of course, all but myself. With the diagnoses ADHD I could connect the dots. I went on medication, but one doctor took me off it when I went into my trauma’s. I listened, he should know right. He gave me something else, but that didn’t do it. Went back to a centre for seven weeks to determine what is now really the core of things. They determined that ADHD is kind off the key. Someone (or at least I) with ADHD is prone to getting trauma throughout his life. Mainly due to my impulsive, adapting, pleasing and kameleon way of coping with things. According to my docs I use(d) my cognitive capabilities and addiction (booze and kind of risk seeking behavior) to mask my ADHD and they see it as the reason why psychotherapy has been mostly fruitless. And of course fight, freeze or flight. Going from one to the next relationship and employers. Have been mostly single during my life, but didn’t want to end up alone so tried it during a time span of ten years to see if a relationship might work.

Well I feel I could write a book at the moment. So gonna finish it up. Currently I’m back on medication for the ADHD and they advice some ant-depressant. Tried it a few weeks ago, but my body refused the meds via an allergic reaction. So I’ll have to see what I want with that. I’m also on a waiting list for another treatment, focused on somatic therapy and some creative and trauma stuff.

So I recognize a lot about what you write about financially and emotional chaotic next to my current living situation, which is good but not sustainable anymore.

Thanks for reading to those who come this far :grimacing::pray::heart:


Thank you for sharing.

I can relate to your use of alcohol to numb. My neuro-cocktail is a Frankenstein’s mix of ADHD, OCD, PDA and a garnishing of axiety and depression.

The toxicity of this world, the unceasing and increasing demands of work and family life, along with a childhood void of any guidance in emotional maturity has left me feeling incapable of even maintaining the basics of life.

I feel hopeless, and because avoidance of feelings has been my coping strategy, I feel like giving up.

But then there’s alcohol. I’m not bored, I’m not striving, i don’t have to draw on depleted reserves to feel something else.

But it’s also blown-out my dopamine receptors. It’s erroding my family. It’s making me the impotent person I feel i am.

So, I’m quitting. I’m trying to replace hurtful coping skills with more helpful ones, but I’m exhausted all the time and this is adding more and more demands crushing me.

I made it last night. I will try to make it tonight.

I wish you the best, Karen!

I have diagnosed ADHD as well. I know what you mean, I find myself chasing dopamine as well.

IMO, the ADHD meds aren’t necessarily a bad thing if you actually have ADHD. I’m prescribed a 30mg Vyvanse in the morning, and a 10mg Vyvanse in the afternoon (it wears off kinda quick for me). The ADHD meds actually do wonders for my ability to focus at work. But they definitely have their side effects, like I don’t really get hungry until late at night so I find myself having to drink nutritional shakes when I’m supposed to eat to get some calories in me lol. I also find the ADHD meds can make you anxious and irritable for a while until your body gets used to it.

The thing about the ADHD meds is they can also help with drug cravings a little bit. I don’t crave cocaine as much when my ADHD meds are taking effect I notice.

Basically, in my opinion if you’re not sure whether or not you need the ADHD medication, my advice would be to talk to a medical professional like a psychiatrist, don’t push the idea of them putting you on pills onto him/her, just describe how you feel and your symptoms and let them diagnose you and decide if you’d benefit from the meds. Then try it out, and see how it goes. You don’t necessarily have to keep taking it if it’s fucking you up more than benefitting you, but definitely talk to a psychiatrist or doctor.

Best of luck! I hope everything goes well for you :slight_smile: