2018 Annual International Conference on ADHD

ADHD and internet addiction

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This is a new guest blog piece on ADHD and internet addiction by Dr Todd Love. He is a counselor and coach in practice in the USA. It is his summary of the 2018 Annual International Conference on ADHD, co-hosted by CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association), and the ACO (ADHD Coaches Organization).

Nature of ADHD

For adults, ADHD is a productivity disorder. Clinically speaking, it is a chronic disorder of inhibition and self-regulation. It is NOT about simply “sitting still and paying attention”. Rather it is about regulating critical psychological functions such as motivation, focus, attention, emotions, and behaviors.

Put another way, ADHD is a disorder of life management. (see below for examples)

Two unfortunate paradoxes were presented:

  • ADHD is a stress producing disorder, and excessive stress makes managing ADHD harder
  • People with ADHD have a harder time succeeding with self-improvement; with the development of the exact skills they need in order to survive with the condition.
Two basics that everyone should know:
  • The causes of ADHD are no longer unknown. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, with clearly established neurobiological underpinnings. These include neurochemical imbalances (dopamine, norepinephrine, etc), specific impaired neural networks, and genetic etiologies (70% heritability).
  • Things that do NOT cause ADHD: Bad parenting, anything related to breastfeeding, too much screen-time, learning to walk too late, or dishonest marketing by drug companies.
  • Most children do NOT “grow out of it”. Research now indicates that 60% – 80% of people carry their ADHD into adulthood (throughout their entire lifespan). Sadly, less than 20% of adults with ADHD who were not diagnosed as children, will ever be diagnosed or treated. Actually, this is tragic, and you’ll understand why after you read the next section.

Keynote Speaker: Russell Barkley, PhD

Dr. Barkley is the worlds leading researcher on ADHD. He has published literally hundreds of academic/scientifc articles, almost 100 textbook chapters, and dozens of books. Dr. Barkley is not in the camp of ADHD as a “gift”, and was a particularly heavy-hitter on the topic of the painful realities of adult ADHD:

  • “Across all of our results, one thing seems abundantly clear – ADHD in adults is a significantly impairing disorder, associated with numerous difficulties in virtually every domain of major life activity.”
  • “Whether one studies functioning in education, occupation, social relationships, sexual activities, dating and marriage, parenting and offspring, psychological morbidity, crime and drug abuse, health and related lifestyles, financial management, or driving, ADHD can be found to produce diverse and serious impairments.”
  • “As such, ADHD impairments are more substantial than are those seen in other disorders most likely to present to outpatient mental health clinics, such as anxiety disorders, dysthymia, and major depression.”

If those points weren’t heavy enough, these should be:

  • ADHD is a public health disorder, not just a mental health problem.
  • It rivals autism in the stress burden on parents.
  • ADHD as a quality-of-life threatening illness!

His keynote was largely focused on presenting the findings of his recently completed long-term study of people with ADHD. His bottom line finding was shocking and profound: Undiagnosed people with ADHD have a lifespan 10+ years shorter than average!

“ADHD is not a disorder of not knowing what to do…its a disorder of not being able to do what you know.”

— Russell Barkley, Ph

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