Neurodivergent conditions like ADHD are often mischaracterized and misunderstood by the public. Take the notion that ADHD means an inability to sit still. This portrayal glosses over so many of ADHD’s actual components, argues Katie Klabusich, who says she spent more than 10 years after graduating college using drugs and alcohol to blunt the intense discomfort caused by her untreated ADHD.
Therapist and author of Loving Someone with Attention Deficit Disorder Susan Tschudi calls ADHD “an allergy to boredom.”
Here’s a twist. People with ADHD who “use substances to quell the internal anxieties and insecurities of living undiagnosed,” says Klabusich, also experience drugs differently because of their neurobiology. Cannabis, for example, helps to address actual ADHD symptoms, often helping people with ADHD to focus!
Still, because most people don’t know what ADHD symptoms look like, they think their loved ones with ADHD are simply “frustrating or lazy or bad at communication,” all of which, Klabusich points outs, “reinforces the internal negative self-talk of the undiagnosed individual—’I can’t do anything right,’ ‘I never finish anything,’ etc.—which often leads to heavier self-medication.”