Carole Gayle
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The Cost of ADHD

by Carole Gayle

Recent studies indicate that ADHD is one of the most costly health conditions in the U.S. - topped only by alcohol abuse and clearly ahead of drug abuse in terms of cost. Annually, alcohol abuse costs American families $86 billion in lost household income. The annual cost for ADHD is $77 billion and the annual cost for drug abuse is $58 billion.

Hard costs, like out-of-pocket medical treatment, are only one aspect of lost income. ADHD high school graduates and college graduates make considerably less money annually than their non-ADHD counterparts. Research indicates that it doesn't matter if the person with ADHD has the same level of education as someone who does not have ADHD, the person with ADHD will make less money than the person without ADHD. The numbers are between $4500.00 and $10,000.00 annually. People with ADHD suffer from symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity - which are not always conducive to the work environment.

Although about half the children with ADHD learn to adequately manage their symptoms into adulthood, the other half continue to struggle as they transition from school to work. If ADHD goes untreated into adulthood, the symptoms can affect their financial health by making it harder to hold down a job, making it harder to obtain the education needed to land high-paying jobs and it can cause more lost work days.

Many psychiatrists that treat adults with ADHD ask their clients to bring in their employee evaluations; most of the evaluations brought in read like a textbook case. The ADHD adult will talk out of turn, have difficulty following through with instructions, show lack of focus, have difficulty finishing projects and complain of being disorganized. Symptoms like these make it very hard for an adult with ADHD to maintain a successful work environment. More often than not, these are the employees that get passed up for a promotion or are under-employed according to their abilities.

Not only does the adult with ADHD have more problems at work, without successful treatment the ADHD adult typically also has:

  • Higher divorce rates.
  • Lower levels of satisfaction with all aspects of their lives.
  • Less likely to have a positive self- image or be optimistic.
  • More likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • More driving accidents.

Most experts agree that if ADHD is detected and treated at a young age, the ADHD adult will be less likely to struggle with work and their everyday duties. The key is in finding successful and healthful treatment for the ADHD adult.

Carole Gayle is a freelance writer who focuses on health related issues.
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