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Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

People with ADHD, particularly those who are not diagnosed until adulthood, face numerous challenges in life that they are unsure how to overcome. This can result in other disorders like depression and anxiety. Some people resort to self-medication with opioids in their search for treatment. This can lead to opioid use disorders (OUDs) coexisting with ADHD.

According to the researchers, 16.5% of people with ADHD who are treated with stimulants also use opioids, compared to 13% of people who do not use stimulant therapies.

Like many other ADHD comorbidities, OUD has many overlapping symptoms making diagnoses difficult. Some of these common symptoms are listed below. For the ADHD explanations of the symptoms click the link for each.

  • Impulsiveness - People who use OUDs can be impulsive, either while high or in efforts to obtain more of the drug.

  • Focus Issues - People suffering from opioid use disorders are frequently preoccupied with obtaining or using drugs. This causes issues focusing on anything else.

  • Disorganization - Drug use and lack of focus can cause issues staying on task and finishing daily activities

  • Emotional Dysregulation - Drug use and withdrawals can cause frequent mood swings.

These are just some of the common symptoms associated with both disorders.

The opioid epidemic has become a major issue in the US especially. Knowing some of the underlying issues that are leading people to turn to opioid abuse could turn the tables and help work towards solving this major problem. ADHD is a very difficult disorder to manage, and without a diagnosis, people get desperate to try and fix themselves. Getting properly diagnosed, and educated is the first step.

For more information about OUDs and how they relate to ADHD along with treatment options and more links to research and statistics, visit

Thank you to Gabriela Castillo of for reaching out to me with this important information.


  1. ADHD & Opioid Use Disorder: Understanding the Connection | Bicycle Health. Published 2022. Accessed June 29, 2022.

  2. Hlavinka E. Opioid Use Rising in ADHD Patients on Stimulants. Published August 10, 2018. Accessed June 29, 2022.

  3. Vold JH, Aas C, Skurtveit S, et al. Dispensation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications in patients receiving opioid agonist therapy; a national prospective cohort study in Norway from 2015 to 2017. BMC Psychiatry. 2020;20(1). doi:10.1186/s12888-020-02526-y.

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