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In ADHD Prison

jail bars
In stir

Did you know there is a statistic for the prevalence of ADHD in the population of the correction systems? There is.

In Canada, the stat says that adult inmates are five times more likely to have ADHD than the population on the outside.

Unbelievable! Right? …. but it gets worse.In the juvenile system the that number climbs to ten. That’s right, if you’re in the correctional system and you’re under eighteen you are ten times more likely to be a person with ADHD as you are if you’re not in the system.

Some are never in the system

I wasn’t.

Well, there was the time I got pulled over in my home made go-kart and was read a list of infractions that I could have been charged with, no insurance, no lights, inadequate brakes, no fenders, no horn, no license (I was 13), no insurance … and apparently I was doing forty-three in a thirty???

That’s nothing …

But young people with ADHD aren’t just getting in trouble in go-karts. Let’s think about this. Impulsive behaviour means a higher likelihood of trying things that are risky. Things like, say … drugs, alcohol, sex.

These things provide intriguing changes to the way an ADHD brain works. Some of them charge up the brain and give it focus. Some of them slow the brain down and silence the speeding thoughts.

Alcohol did that second thing for me. I loved that peace, that calm.

Then the problems start

The things I’d do to get alcohol were pretty crazy. Mostly I stole it, from my parents, my friends parents, houses I knew weren’t locked. Not things I’m proud of.

But I never got caught. So I’m not in the system.

No less guilty

I’m no less guilty because I never got caught, I’m just less punished. And I’m free to talk about these things.

I was lucky in that soft drugs made me paranoid, so I never progressed to harder ones.

I was unlucky in that I made a concerted effort to hone my drinking skills to the point where I could drink twenty-five ounces of hard alcohol by the end of the evening … especially if I started in the morning.

And lucky again …

I also got lucky in that I survived and managed to keep enough of my brain cells alive and active that i was able to realize, eventually, that i was killing myself.

Admittedly it took me another couple of years to understand that i had to quit, since my resolve to cut back never lasted longer than the first of the two drinks I swore I’d stop at each night.

One snapshot

This is just my experience. Just my snapshot of possibility. There are as many scenarios as there are youth with ADHD.

Many of these stories turn out bad.

On Monday we’ll talk a bit about how it drops from ten times to five times for the adult population.

In ADHD Prison

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2016). In ADHD Prison. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 24 Oct 2016
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