ADHD May Be Linked To Addiction

The brain’s dopamine system, which anticipates reward, has been linked to addiction by researchers. Now a new study suggests a connection to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and addiction, because both are related to the brain’s reward system.

Dr. Anders Nykjaer, a neuroscientist, believes recent animal studies centered on miswiring in the brain may help scientists understand the causes of ADHD; “This miswiring of dopaminergic neurons in mice results in hyperactivity and attention deficits.”

Dopamine neurons are what regulate human responses to pleasure and reward, which in turn motivates certain actions. This is the reason that addiction and research on the brain’s reaction to drugs and alcohol dependence is of importance, including findings related links to illnesses like ADHD.

In the recent study, scientists found that when there was a deficiency in SorSC2 receptors, there were dysfunctional contacts between dopamine neurons. SorSC2 receptors are essentially long rows of amino acids that have two functions depending on the presence of other factors important for development and regeneration of neuronal circuits.  This receptor system is critical for correct wiring of the dopaminergic area of the brain, specifically during embryonic development. This is the connection between ADHD and addiction. The same defect in embryonic development may predispose individuals to both problems.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2012 survey, the “number of children 3-17 years of age ever diagnosed with ADHD:  5.9 million.” That is a large number of children who are at risk of suffering from addiction struggles throughout their lives.

Much more research is needed to study the development and regeneration of neuronal circuits, and provide better understanding into the secrets of the brain’s wiring.  There have been major advances in brain imaging techniques and a lot of progress made in the knowledge of neuroscience in recent years. I hope that new research will lead to new therapies or medicines that can help prevent brain mis-wiring, while also thwarting the resulting conditions including ADHD and addiction.