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ADHD and Thrill-seeking

The ADHD brain has an underactive dopamine reward system so it seems to play by its own rules entirely, always looking for some way to trigger a dopamine release.

This can result in satisfying an internal desire rather than an external expectation.

ADHD can often lead to success in high-risk careers including emergency services that peak the dopamine reward and sustain it for slightly longer periods of time. It can also lead to participation in high-risk activities like extreme sports, driving fast, gambling, and getting into trouble with the law. Particularly destructive dopamine fixes can be gotten through street drugs and other forms of self-medication.

To be successful in the world it is necessary to find enough stimulation in an everyday environment including managing the mundane and unstimulating tasks that must be tackled on an ongoing basis. Boredom is a part of daily life for people living with an ADHD brain. Restlessness, fidgeting, and being disruptive in some way are all attempts to help create some form of stimulation. Distraction with a dopamine hit activity leads to concepts of time and consequences fading into insignificance.

When dealing with life the ADHD brain’s search for larger, more immediate, and repeated rewards makes it difficult to remain goal orientated, especially if the goal is important rather than fun. Dopamine levels soon drop back to baseline, and they take the level of motivation with them.

Once we acknowledge that the ADHD brain needs dopamine to stop it “stalling”, the key investigation is to work with that knowledge and to be aware of where the dopamine supply is coming from.

Knowing how your ADHD brain works will be helpful with sound decision making, self-regulation and the avoidance of possible destructive behaviours.

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