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Substance Use Disorders: Signs, Symptoms, and Links to ADHD

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Substance use disorders (SUDs) are chronic, complex conditions characterized by problematic patterns of substance use (single or multiple substances) that cause significant distress and impairment over time.

Individuals with an SUD exhibit cognitive, behavioral, and/or physiological symptoms indicating that they continue to use the substance despite its negative effects and consequences.

Individuals with substance use disorders lose control over their ability to cut back or stop substances. About 10% of teens and up to 30% of adults will have an SUD sometime in their lifetime.1SUDs frequently co-occur with other disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).2 About one in two adolescents and one in four adults with an SUD has co-occurring ADHD; the risk for SUD is even higher among adolescents and adults with untreated ADHD.34Substance use disorders are categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) based on a patient’s use of the following classes of drugs and substances:5The DSM-5 lists 11 symptoms, grouped into four categories, that characterize an SUD.

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