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Attention Deficit Disorder and Alcoholism


It is common for people with Attention Deficit Disorder to turn to alcohol and other addictive substances to calm their restless brains and bodies. The use of alcohol or drugs to self-medicate can then lead to the commission of criminal offenses such as drunk driving.

The real problem is that when a person uses alcohol to self-medicate, addiction follows and repeat offending can result in jail or prison sentences without addressing the underlying medical condition. The problem feeds on itself until it is ultimately addressed. Many people suffer from alcoholism without understanding the underlying condition and that ADD has led them down this path. What starts off as a “solution” to ADD symptoms turns into a bigger problem.

For people in this situation, it is not enough to treat the addiction to alcohol or drugs without treating the ADD. Both need to be diagnosed and treated for the individual to have a chance of recovery and a productive life. ADD can be effectively treated with appropriate medications and ADD couseling, while alcoholism requires prolonged therapy in recovery groups or twelve step programs.

Many people who are arrested for DUI are represented by DUI defense attorneys who handle the case without addressing any underlying issue. The case can be successfully defended and the attorney may get charges reduced or dismissed. Most DUI lawyers are not interested in dealing with the defendants personal issues such as the underlying problems that led to the arrest in the first place. The traditional approach is to deny responsibility, attack the reliability of the evidence and take the case to trial if necessary in order to “beat it”.

For defendants who are using alcohol to mask the symptoms of ADD, winning the case without addressing the underlying problem will result in a short term fix, but will likely result in the defendant being arrested again and again, until the problem is effectively addressed.

DUI defense lawyers should be aware of the need to assist clients who have problems with alcohol. Los Angeles DUI attorneys Nigel Witham and Jeffrey Gold regularly refer clients for a clinical evaluation with a psychologist and advise clients to attend self help or twelve step meetings, even on a first offense. Not only does this approach help to mitigate penalties at court, but it leads the defendant along the right path towards sobriety so that he or she does not become a repeat offender. Many people are resistant to the idea of taking these steps at first, but may greatly benefit from them in the long run. We have had clients call us a year after their case was resolved thanking us for changing their lives. An arrest for DUI does not have to be a devastating experience and may instead be a catalyst to taking positive steps towards recognizing deep seated problems and dealing with them.