When you have to work, it’s hard to sit still and focus. Your hands and feet have a life of their own, and move or tap just to find something to do. You interrupt or speak out of turn when talking with other people. Waiting in line for anything seems likes it takes an eternity. You must move or burst from excess energy.

For some this is an occasional experience. For others with predominantly hyperactive-impulse ADHD, these symptoms interfere with everyday life.

A recent analysis of parent-reported data from the National Health Interview Survey 2011–2013 found that 9.5 percent of children ages 4 to 17 had an ADHD diagnosis. The study also found that the rate of ADHD diagnosis had increased from 7 percent to 10.2 percent between 2012 and 2014.1 This rise in the rate of an ADHD-HI diagnosis among children means that a larger number of undiagnosed adults with ADHD is likely. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses like ADHD-HI can often lead to experimentation with drugs and alcohol. This attempt to self-medicate or hide the symptoms of ADHD-HI can quickly lead to addiction. Knowing the differences between ADHD types and the symptoms of each can help you identify problems in yourself or a loved one and get appropriate treatment.

ADHD-HI Symptoms

Although the exact symptoms will vary from person to person, children and adults with ADHD-HI may show:

  • Lack of patience
  • Feelings of restless energy when trying to sit still
  • Fidgeting with hands or feet while sitting
  • Difficulty staying seated
  • Engaging in physical tasks with too much force or being too loud
  • Talking more than is appropriate or intended
  • Interrupting others, especially to answer a question that hasn’t yet been completed
  • Intruding upon the time or space of others
  • Difficulty taking turns or waiting for things2

When these symptoms make dealing with daily life, social activities, school or work impossible, it’s time to get help.

ADHD-HI and the Brain

Medical brain illustrationMany of the symptoms seen in ADHD are linked to delayed maturity in its executive centers, which are responsible for organization, planning, paying attention and self-control. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the brains of people with ADHD mature in a normal pattern but an average of three years late.3 This means that for many children, time is a big part of the cure. But for those whose ADHD symptoms continue into adulthood, continued treatment is key to living a normal life.

ADHD-HI differs from predominantly inattentive type ADHD, in which people have difficulty focusing or paying attention. Brain wave scans of those with ADHD and those with ADHD-HI have found that the two diagnoses have distinct profiles. People with ADHD-HI showed disruptions to brain wave patterns associated with the output of physical movement, while people with predominantly inattentive type ADHD showed disruptions in patterns related to the processing of sensory input.

According to research in Journal of the American Medical Association, both types of ADHD are also related to abnormalities in the dopamine system of the brain, which is involved in attention, motivation, focus, curiosity, reward and learning.4 This may be why for many people with ADHD, stimulant medications like Ritalin or Adderall that act on dopamine can be helpful.

Medication is most effective when combined with psychotherapy such as behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy teaches people how to observe, monitor and control their behavior. It also teaches how to praise or reward oneself for acting in a desired way, such as thinking before speaking. Therapy can be particularly helpful when the whole family gets involved, offering positive and negative feedback for wanted and unwanted behaviors.

Finding Help for ADHD and Addiction

We know how difficult it can be to bring yourself to get help for a mental health condition, but you’ve already taken the first step. At Black Bear Lodge, our treatment team is ready to design a specialized treatment plan for you or your loved one. Call us today to find out more.


1General Prevalence of ADHD | CHADD.” CHADD – The National Resource on ADHD. Web. Accessed 20 July 2017.

2ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.” WebMD. 1 May 2017. Web. Accessed 20 July 2017.

3Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): The Basics.” National Institute of Mental Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. Accessed 20 July 2017.

4 Volkow, Nora D., Gene-Jack Wang, Scott H. Kollins, etal. “Evaluating Dopamine Reward Pathway in ADHD: Clinical Implications.” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 09 Sept. 2009. Web. Accessed 20 July 2017.