ADHD and Risky Behavior in Adults – Speeding and dangerous driving

You might notice someone you care about with ADHD acting out in ways that are disturbing you, others, or themselves. ADHD could be a cause of their actions.

While not all adults with ADHD have risky behaviors, many do. Why? Research has shown that ADHD sufferers often have lower levels neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals. Dopamine is just one example. Stephanie Sarkis PhD, a mental counselor and author of Adult ADD – A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, says that reckless behavior can increase dopamine levels. They may feel a bit more dopamine if they take risks. ADHD patients may also be susceptible to impulsive or risky behavior due to their genetics.

Some people with ADHD may have minor problems, such as missing meetings or being late. Some may drive at dangerous speeds or abuse alcohol. You and your loved ones with ADHD will be better able to understand the link between ADHD and risky behaviors.

ADHD-related problems

ADHD can lead to some dangerous or difficult behaviors, such as:

  • Having trouble getting motivated, or finishing tasks at work or home?
  • Not following through or being late with commitments, appointments, and responsibilities
  • Impulsive spending and overspending
  • Fighting or arguing
  • Problems maintaining romantic and friendship relationships
  • Dangerous driving and speeding
  • Substance abuse (ADHD) can make you six times more likely than others to abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Unprotected sex is a risky behavior.

Others can also influence whether or not someone with ADHD behaves in dangerous or risky ways. The environment they live in, their friends, and any health issues such as depression or head injuries can all make a difference.

How can you help?

There are ways you can help someone with ADHD who is showing signs of distress.

  • Do not place blame. It is important to remember that ADHD is a neurological, genetic, and biological disorder. Sarkis states that ADHD is real and can have serious consequences for those who suffer from it.
  • Be kind and understanding, rather than being critical or angry, to increase the chances that your loved one will trust and come to you when they need you.
  • Partner in planning. Sarkis explains that ADHD can affect the brain’s frontal regions, which are responsible to planning and organizing ahead.
  • You can work with them to establish and maintain a routine. You could, for example, create a schedule and plan certain activities each day.
  • This can help reduce lateness and encourage them to keep their promises.
  • Get active with your partner. Recent research has shown that exercise can reduce ADHD symptoms. One reason is that even short bursts can increase brain chemicals such as dopamine. Increasing those levels in healthy ways, such as through exercise, may reduce the risk that someone with ADHD will engage in other dangerous activities like speeding or alcohol abuse.
  • Encourage them to seek treatment, and to stay on the path. ADHD medication can help some people. One study showed that ADHD patients who continued to take their medication reduced their chances of being involved in traffic accidents by over 50%. Talking to a psychiatrist who is experienced in ADHD treatment can help you or your loved one determine if medication is right for them.

Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce ADHD symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thoughts to improve behavior. Sarkis states that counseling and medication work together better than if they are done separately. Although there is no cure for ADHD or a way to improve the quality of life for those with it, treatment can help.

Updated 01/24/22