ADHD and Risky Behaviour

ADHD and Risky Behaviour Neurodivergence ADHD Menopause and Me

Understanding the Connection and Managing the Risks

While not everyone with ADHD engages in risky behaviour, there is a link between the two. It’s important to understand this connection to navigate life safely and manage potential challenges. Only realising the fact I have ADHD in the last few years, a lot of my behaviours when younger make a whole load of sense now!

Several factors contribute to the increased risk of risky behaviour in individuals with ADHD:

  • Impulsivity: A core symptom of ADHD, impulsivity can lead to making quick decisions without considering potential consequences.
  • Attention Deficit: Difficulty focusing and paying attention can make it harder to assess a situation accurately and identify risks.
  • Emotional Dysregulation: Difficulty managing emotions can lead to acting out in risky ways as a way to cope or seek stimulation.
  • Sensation Seeking: Some individuals with ADHD may crave new and intense experiences, leading them to engage in risky activities for the thrill.
  • Comorbid Conditions: Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, often co-occurring with ADHD, can further increase risk-taking tendencies.

Risky behaviours associated with ADHD can vary, but some common examples include:

  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Dangerous driving habits
  • Unprotected sex
  • Financial recklessness
  • Gambling addiction
  • Extreme sports without proper safety measures
  • Engaging in conflicts or risky social situations

Several strategies can help individuals with ADHD manage their risk-taking tendencies:

  • Develop self-awareness: Understand your triggers and the situations where you’re more likely to engage in risky behaviour.
  • Practice impulse control techniques: Mindfulness exercises, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and time-out strategies can help you pause and reflect before acting.
  • Build healthy coping mechanisms: Find healthy ways to deal with stress and boredom, like exercise, hobbies, or creative outlets.
  • Seek support: Talk to a therapist or counsellor specializing in ADHD who can provide guidance and develop personalized strategies.
  • Build a strong support network: Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who can encourage positive choices.
  • Communicate openly: Talk to your loved ones about your ADHD and your efforts to manage risky behaviour. They can offer understanding and support.
  • Individuals with ADHD are 2-4 times more likely to engage in risky behaviours compared to the general population.
  • This risk seems to peak in late adolescence and early adulthood.
  • The severity of ADHD symptoms and the presence of comorbid conditions like anxiety or depression further increase the risk.

For me, my late teens and twenties were definitely where some of my behaviours could be seen as risky. I married at 19 after only three months… Moved to London within 2 weeks, on a whim… I got into debt (to be fair, I am still pretty rubbish with money) and I have always had an addictive personality. All or nothing baby!

Remember, knowledge is power! By understanding the connection between ADHD and risky behaviour, we (and our support systems) can work together to navigate the challenges and healthy decision-making. Have you noticed any risky behaviours in you or your child? What have you found helps, if anything?

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Additional Resources:

CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD Foundation

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

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Featured Image: Dominika Roseclay


  1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Adhd In Children Understanding And Supporting Your Child |
  2. ADHD | Joe Delaney Illustration Blog (

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