Saturday, February 17, 2007

The ACA ADD Connection

Does growing up in an alcoholic/dysfunctional home contribute to the development of Attention Deficit Disorder?

ADD and ADHD sufferers are often bright, extremely gifted people. They can sometimes appear absent minded, spaced out and disorganized.

Famous Attention Deficit sufferers include:

Albert Einstein
Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Edison
Wright Brothers
Leonardo da Vinci
Walt Disney
John Lennon
Winston Churchill
Henry Ford
Stephen Hawkings
Jules Verne
Alexander Graham Bell
John F. Kennedy
Louis Pasteur
F. Scott Fitzgerald

But just what is ADD or ADHD?

According to, symptoms include:

_ Often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming while seated.

_ Having difficulty remaining seated.

_ Being easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.

_ Having difficulty awaiting turn in games or group activities.

_ Often blurting out answers before questions are completed.

_ Having difficulty in following instructions.

_ Having difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.

_Often shifting from one uncompleted task to another.

*(One of the Common ACA Characteristics is "Having difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end.")

_ Having difficulty playing quietly.

_Often talking excessively.

_ Often interrupting or intruding on others.

_ Often not listening to what is being said.

_Often forgetting things necessary for tasks or activities.

_Often engaging in physically dangerous activities without considering possible consequences.

*(Another Common ACA Characteristic is "Locking themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternate behaviors or possible consequences.")

What Causes ADD?

Causes of ADD are thought to include emotional and physical trauma and heredity. People from alcoholic/dysfunctional families may be at risk for all THREE of these factors.

Emotional/Physical Trauma

"Both physical and emotional neglect contribute to ADD. Abuse causes a rush of stress hormones and chemicals that poison a baby's or child's brain. Stress hormones damage the memory centers and chronic stress causes the brain to become hyperalert, leading to severe distractibility and an inability to filter out extraneous stimuli." -"Healing ADD" by Daniel Amen, M.D

"When the noise and chaos in a family reach a certain level, the child is likely to tune it out. They do this by slowing down their brain- the slowed brain is less alert to what is going on. It is slow brainwave rhythms that characterize ADD.

In our clinic, we have seen the same slow brainwave patterns in children who are yelled at constantly and we have also seen this in verbally abused spouses. It is possible to conclude that anyone who lives in chaos and discord could suffer an emotional brain injury and would exhibit many classic ADD-type symptoms."
- "Getting Rid Of Ritalin" by Robert Hill, Ph. D. and Eduardo Castro, M.D.

"Our data indicate a constellation of mild dysmorphic features of fetal alcohol syndrome, findings of hyperactivity and persistent school learning difficulties in children with normal intelligence born to heavy drinking mothers. Alcohol exposure in utero (during pregnancy) may be an important, preventable determinant of attention deficit syndromes in childhood." -"Hyperactivity - A.D.D. and Behavior Disorders Linked With Alcohol Exposure" Journal of Pediatarics, 96:978, 1990

"Attention, distraction and impulsive behavior problems were found to occur more often in a study of 475 young school age children whose mothers drank moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy." -Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology, 8:717-725, 1986


"NIMH investigators found important differences between people who have ADHD and those who don't. In people with ADHD, the brain areas that control attention used less glucose, indicating that they were less active. It appears from this research that a lower level of activity in some parts of the brain may cause inattention.

Other research shows that attention disorders tend to run in families,so there are likely to be genetic influences. Children who have ADHD usually have at least one close relative who also has ADHD. And at least one-third of all fathers who had ADHD in their youth bear children who have ADHD. Even more convincing: the majority of identical twins share the trait."

The Cycle

Alcohol use appears to be part of a vicious cycle- often a factor in both the cause and effect of ADD. Children of alcoholic parents may experience emotional and physical damage that leads to developing ADD. And many of them then grow up to try and control their ADD by self medicating with alcohol.

"Alcohol helped David Miller become more focused and calm, initially correcting low dopamine and GABA neurotransmitter levels, but eventually created more problems than it solved. Mr. Miller provides an excellent description of the heightened anxiety and overstimulation occurring in the newly abstinent alcoholic." -"Overload: Attention Deficit Disorder and the Addictive Brain" by David K. Miller & Kenneth Blum

"Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a childhood mental health disorder that can lead to alcohol and other drug (AOD)-related problems if it persists into adolescence and adulthood. Among adult patients receiving treatment for alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse, the rate of ADHD has been estimated to be approximately 25 percent (Wilens 1998)." -

Check out our website at: Orange County Adult Children

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Children of Alcoholics: Important Facts

Selected excerpts from:

Seventy six million Americans, about 43% of the U.S. adult population, have been exposed to alcoholism in the family.

Almost one in five adult Americans (18%) lived with an alcoholic while growing up.

Roughly one in eight American adult drinkers is alcoholic or experiences problems due to the use of alcohol. The cost to society is estimated at in excess of $166 billion each year.

There are an estimated 26.8 million COAs in the United States. Preliminary research suggests that over 11 million are under the age of 18.

Children of alcoholics are four times more likely than non-COAs to develop alcoholism.

Genetic factors play a major role in the development of alcoholism. There is an expanding base of literature which strongly supports a heritable basis for alcoholism and a range of family influences that may direct the development of children of alcoholics.

Family interaction patterns also may influence the COA's risk for alcohol abuse. It has been found that families with an alcoholic parent displayed more negative family interaction during problem-solving discussions than in non-alcoholic families.

Almost one-third of any sample of alcoholics has at least one parent who also was or is an alcoholic.

Children of alcoholics are more likely than non-COAs to marry into families in which alcoholism is prevalent.

Parental alcoholism influences adolescent substance use through several different pathways including stress, negative affect and decreased parental monitoring. Negative affect and impaired parental monitoring are associated with adolescent's joining in a peer network that supports drug use behavior.

Source: SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information

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