ADHD and Addiction

ADDitude Magazine asked me to write a review of
When Too Much Isn’t Enough:
Ending the Destructive Cycle of AD/HD and Addictive Behavior

by Wendy Richardson, MA
Piñon Press; $15.99

They chose a different version of the review, so this one isn’t bothered with their copyright issues. Thank you very much.

Let me just say, “I know some people…” who are not technically addicted to food or alcohol or video games. But I do know people who over indulge more often than they should in harmful activities — including just plain ole harmless solitaire.

So Wendy Richardson’s new book, When Too Much Isn’t Enough: Ending the Destructive Cycle of AD/HD and Addictive Behavior, put a great deal of abusive behavior in to a very clear picture for me.

It’s hard to know when you’ve eaten enough, if you don’t notice a full feeling in your stomach. People with AD/HD could find it hard just to remember how much they’ve had to drink — and I’m not talking here because of a drunken stupor. Undiagnosed or untreated AD/HD makes it easier to slide into problems and then more difficult to recover from them.

Richardson’s easily-readable book looks at the many faces of self-medication and why people with AD/HD overindulge or become addicted to drugs, food, alcohol and compulsive behaviors. She makes a strong case for getting a proper and complete diagnosis and treatment. She advocates for finding professionals who understand both AD/HD and addictive behaviors. She also presents many possible avenues for recovery including not only the well known 12-step programs, but also therapy, counseling, coaching and medication. The book’s appendices and end notes include extensive resources available on the Internet, in libraries, and through educational and support organizations.

Obviously, noticing a behavior is key to changing it, but people with AD/HD are notoriously bad at self monitoring. So the chapter “The Less Talked About Traits” is helpful in recognizing how sensory sensitivity, sleep problems and organization issues might affect a person’s abilities to manage his own life effectively.

The chapter “It’s Not Your Fault, But It Is Your Problem” has an excellent explanation of the genetic and biological aspects of AD/HD and addiction. It is written for the general public but comprehensively cited for anyone who wants more in-depth information.

“The Truth about Medication” addresses many concerns that recovering drug addicts and alcoholics have about medication interfering with that recovery.

If you — or someone with whom you live or work — struggles to control problematic behaviors, this book will surely be useful to you. But if you are watching someone who has AD/HD and you are just beginning to notice behaviors that might be crossing some imaginary line — if you’re just not sure what’s going on – this book will be more useful than you can imagine.