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A FINE LINE-Coach Mike Liss, Esq.

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

A distillation of what I have come to believe a year into late life (54) ADHD diagnosis and almost as long into addiction recovery:

ADHD is the root of most addiction and many ADHDers, half of us, suffer with addictive behavior issues. Client problems in ADHD coaching groups, recovery coaching groups and 12 Step groups are nearly identical, and the differences are a fine line.

ADHD is an impulse control disorder. Cravings are impulses. Those disordered impulses gone wrong lead to addiction.

With addiction, there comes a point where the addictive behaviors take over and cause such dysfunction that the sufferer risks feeling helpless. That can be a bottom. It seems like a lot of ADHDers don’t reach a bottom and manage lower-grade, self-destructive behaviors. These seem to cause less impact over longer periods, but do cause misery.

If the sufferer does not reach the hopeless state of a ’t bottom, they risk not discovering the root causes of their suffering and remain focused on managing the dysfunction. They suffer till the end.

To be clear, many ADHDers live happy, very functional lives. Their lack of self-destructive behavior seems caused by several factors, including severity and type of ADHD, but they flow with the world with their own energy and don’t struggle in the world to dysfunction.

I just read RECOVERY 2.0, a great book by a great recovery coach, Tommy Rosen.

He categorizes addictive behaviors as follows:

The big Six Addictions:

  1. Drugs

  2. Alcohol

  3. Food

  4. People

  5. Money

  6. Technology

The Four Aggravations (Thought addictions):

  1. Negative thinking

  2. Self-doubt

  3. Procrastination

  4. Resentment

What ADHDer who seeks coaching for functional issues isn’t dealing with several of these addictive behaviors? What ADHD coach isn’t really dealing with addiction, which may not be recognized in the coaching?

The rumination, the RSD, the amygdala hijacks, the emotional dysregulation, the self-sabotaging conduct—to me, it’s all addiction and it’s a matter of degree in severity of conduct and impact.

If you want to know what addiction is, it’s repeatedly thinking “I shouldn’t do this” and doing it anyway, with negative consequences, and feeling bad about it afterwards.

  • Staying up too late watching tv?

  • Deciding to have a second plate or third plate, or, ok, I’ll just finish the rest of the pan?

  • Having the one too many drinks.

  • Shop on credit for useless stuff?

  • Place that bet?

  • Refresh that Twitter screen?

  • Have that meaningless sex?

Giving in is the common denominator. If you feel anxious because you know you should not do something but say “fuck it” and do it anyway and feel bad about it later-THAT’S ADDICTION.

How many ADHDers don’t deal with addictive behaviors? To me, any of us who have sought ADHD coaching have really sought coaching to deal with addictive behaviors.

Just a fine line. That fine line is a matter of degree. Once it crosses a line, any of us can then enter the dark world of an addictive spiral. A “run” or a “bender” which can take us to a bottom. Many lives ruined and lost at the casino, because of smoking, risky sex. Only at the bottom do we really learn how to leave all of the stress of ADHD and addiction behind, one day at a time. In recovery you learn the “why” of your behavior, and not just the “how to cope” and “strategize” as a neurodivergent.

My hope is that the thin line dividing ADHD coaching and recovery coaching will grow thinner. Recovery coaching can integrate more of the function tools and ADHD coaching can integrate more of the mental health and spiritual focus.

A distillation of what I learned and come to believe a year into late life ADHD diagnosis and almost as long into addiction recovery.

For more information about ADHD/Recovery Coaching, ADHD/Recovery information, please visit our website or email us at

-Coach Mike

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