I Abused Alcohol Because of ADHD

Impulsivity is a hallmark of my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This impulsivity manifests in different ways: sometimes it means buying electric pianos from Germany; sometimes it means relocating from Ireland to North America; and, for many years, it meant flirting with the boundaries of outright alcoholism.

I Used Alcohol as a Crutch

Until I permanently stopped drinking in 2018, I used alcohol as a crutch. I was worried about my productivity levels and my inability to get a routine going. At that point, I was still years away from my ADHD diagnosis. I was mired in the throes of alcohol abuse, engaged in bouts of dayslong binges.

Each week — without exception — I was sacrificing my health for total oblivion.

Heavy Drinking Meant Less Thinking

In a departure from real logic but wholly understandable to me, I reckoned heavy drinking would absolve me of having to seriously think about my circumstances. Complete inebriation isn’t conducive to deep introspection; therefore, I’d drink as much as possible for as long as possible to avoid dealing with pressing issues. You know, I avoided sorting my life out and, instead, drowned it in beer.

Dark Thoughts Accompany Hangovers

Eventually, however, the alcohol wore off. And when it did, oblivion was replaced with days of physical and mental anguish. The deep introspection I was staving off with beer was now ready for another assault and gained easy entry to my sober, albeit disorientated, brain. During this time, I was forced to deal with the awful after-effects of alcohol abuse while confronted with the now unavoidable thought that with every binge, I might be doing myself irreversible damage.

I Quit Alcohol Before I Got My ADHD Diagnosis

If impulsivity leads me to random purchases, trips abroad, and substance abuse, it can also occasionally work in my favor. One morning in early 2018, I decided I didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore. Dealing with a biblical hangover, I swore off it. This wasn’t the first epiphany I had regarding alcohol, but it was the catalyst for over four years of unbroken sobriety, continuing as I type this sentence today.

Quitting alcohol was far from a panacea. However, it did allow me to look at my life through a critical lens and not through the foggy goggles of crippling hangovers. Ditching beers allowed me to seek professional help for my ADHD. Without hangovers throwing my routine, I was able to exercise regularly and consistently.

An Alcohol-free Life Helps Me Keep ADHD in Check

Managing ADHD symptoms is difficult but doable. However, I don’t know how true that statement would be if I were still drinking alcohol. That’s because hangovers compromise the discipline required to write, clean, exercise, and be an actual adult. It’s just too easy to renege on obligations when you feel hungover, too easy to rupture continuity with an all-consuming trip to oblivion through wine or beer or vodka.

Do you live with ADHD and have problems with alcohol? Let me know in the comments.

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