One of the core symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is the inability to get and stay organized. Of course, drug addiction treatment doesn’t always explore the ways symptoms of ADD get in the way of sobriety, but it can.
When you’re in drug addiction treatment, for instance, you might have handouts for your treatment classes or support group. You might have documentation that you need to get signed off if you have legal responsibilities. Or you might have to simply remember to get to your treatment sessions on time.
It’s clear that for those with ADD that there is a wide gap between what life expects of you and your ability to meet those expectations. However, there are unique methods for adults to use for getting organized, which in turn, can facilitate closing that gap and supporting your ability to meet life’s responsibilities in a healthy way.
In addition to difficulty with organization, ADD is an impulse control disorder that includes other symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, excessive talking, and fidgeting. Of course, these symptoms can impair your functioning in substance abuse treatment, drug treatment aftercare, work, and home.
In the book ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, authors Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau discus a variety of ways to manage your ADD. They emphasize to their readers that in order to get organized, don’t work against ADD, but rather work with the disorder in order to find stability and structure. For example, one way to do that is to avoid “shoulds” and “musts”. Instead, find something that will stimulate you in order to access the energy that is typical of ADD. If your attention is focused and if you are authentically engaged in a task, you will likely get it done.
So, say the authors, make it fun! Of course, you might be asking, how can completing legal or treatment paperwork be fun? One way to do to make it fun is to create 5 minutes of competition for yourself – what can you finish thoroughly within the time allotted? You can create these five minute challenges on a daily basis, and if you’re willing, provide a reward if the challenge is met. A reward might be a piece of chocolate or an activity you really enjoy, like watching a movie.
Another way to use the ADD versus working against it is to ride on your waves of energy. When it’s available, surf the waves of your increased energy and apply that to getting tasks done. Also, many adults with ADD can switch from having little energy to high energy within minutes with the right stimulation. When the time is right, take a few minutes, sit down, and write down the triggers that would stimulate energy. It could be exercise, companionship, music, and rewards. You might also have to think about what would keep you motivated while you are completing a task, not just what will stimulate energy to get started.
You might also have to think about what will stimulate energy while you’re in the middle of a drug addiction treatment session. For instance, you might be in group therapy and suddenly notice your energy level drop. Perhaps you might need to ask for a five-minute break to take a walk outside. Or perhaps you need to bring a cold bottle of water to stimulate energy when you drink it.
However, you might notice that when you have an excessive amount of energy, you might want to accomplish everything and organize everything in sight. Learn how to focus on one task at a time. The authors, Kohlberg and Nadeau, make it easy to remember: “Choose just one, then get it done.” Attempting to tackle everything at once is the least successful method.
These are tips to use when you’re in drug addiction treatment and you’re noticing your ADD symptoms are getting in the way of your success there.
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