If you have ADHD and you smoke, you’re self medicating.
When I was younger, I smoked. I smoked from the age of twelve, to the age of 36. When I turned 48 and had been smoke free for twelve years, I was able to say the same thing I could have said at the age of 24, that I had smoked for half of my life.
Not really an accomplishment worth any pride, I know. I didn’t really know why I smoked, I knew it was addictive, that’s all.
I didn’t know the connection
I didn’t know that I was self medicating, for two reasons: I didn’t know that self-medication was a thing, and I didn’t know I had a disorder.
I did know that I was compelled to smoke by an urge that was all but uncontrollable.
But, I have an addictive …
Yes, I have addiction issues, I could no more cut back on my smoking than I could cut back on my drinking. It had to be all or nothing. When I thought of lighting up, I had to light up, or the thought wouldn’t go away.
And the frequency of that thought often led to my lighting a cigarette and finding one already burning in the ashtray when I went to set the newest one down.
But what’s the ADHD connection?
Well, we know that smoking and being around smoke during pregnancy is detrimental for fetal development. And we think we know that children raised in households with smokers will learn to smoke at an early age and be more likely to be dedicated smokers.
And more recently we’ve learned that smoking is a form of self medication for ADHD. We consider ADHD to be heritable, and so we might also consider smoking to be heritable.
If smoking helps ease symptoms, and if, through second hand smoke and residual smoke the child discovers, on a subconscious level, the medicinal benefits of smoking to the ADHD brain, how long will it be until that child is drawn to medicating themself?
So, we might consider that the child inherits the disorder that is medicated by smoking and the opportunity to discover that connection.
Vicious generational circles
Yes. Quite. Smoking may cause ADHD or at least exacerbate the extent of the underdevelopment if one can say that, and then it shows up to help alleviate symptoms, being on hand to assist in the creation of the next generation of people who need to self medicate.
People who smoke often have children who smoke, and children with ADHD who are not medicated will often medicate themselves.
So what can you do?
I hope you consider not smoking. I hope that you educate yourself and your family to the reasons they may be drawn to smoking and the danger and damage it may be causing. I hope that you understand the difficulty in trying to manage smoking as opposed to the very positive effects of just not smoking.
I’m not trying to preach here, if I were one of those people I’d be annoying myself and I hate to be annoyed.
So what am I saying?
I am telling you that I’ve lived life both as a smoker and as a non smoker, that my parents smoked at the time I was expected. That that was a time when doctors sometimes suggested smoking as a way to ease morning sickness, and that I started smoking at a very early age. And I have ADHD, and so did my mother.
I’m also telling you that my grandfather likely had it to some extent and he never smoked nor did his family as far as I know. And my grandmother never smoked, so it was not the cause of my mother’s share of this disorder.
No smoke rings here …
But if my mother had ADHD, and if smoking exacerbates the development it, and if I have it and had that need to smoke, I cannot suggest that these findings are wrong.
So here’s what I’m saying, please don’t smoke. It does you no good, and may do your children more harm than we ever thought it would.
I’m not telling you to stop … but I am asking you to stop. Or better yet, don’t start.