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

1 comment:

sparky said...

I was often told I should go to the 12 step fellowship On-anon
becuase I went on and on and on.

I also heard my ramblings called,"Stream of consciousness."

I am also shamed about this by other that are not very understanding. Yet, I can see where it can be overwhelming for some people too.

I am able to have a sense of control over this more often today but I love it when I am just simply accepted for who and what I am.