Scratching the “itch”


If you think this post is about my son who has ADD, don’t be fooled. It’s about YOU. But bear with me while I’ll get to that.

My son has been spiraling out of control over the past several months. He’s a smart thirteen-year-old, who scored high on all the state tests, but because of his chronic forgetfulness and disorganization, he’s failing nearly every class. Part of my frustration is that we sit together and do homework almost every night. I see it getting done. I check it. And I make sure it gets in his bag.  From there, who knows what happens! Some how, some way, it never gets turned in and he gets a big fat F. Sure, all eighth-graders are forgetful and disorganized. It’s a normal stage of development. But multiply that scenario by 50, and throw in inattentiveness, lack of motivation, easily distracted and chronically bored unless something phenomenal is happening. Mix. Stir. It’s a recipe for ADD. ANd yet, I have been avoiding labeling him for so long. I didn’t want to fall into what I considered the ADD trap–diagnosing my son with a “disorder” only to have him carry that burden around with him for the rest of his life. But I knew something had to be done.

Along with a slew of other things that I put in place to help my son, one was reading a book about ADD. Sure, we all know the obvious, stereotypical traits of ADD and ADHD, but I wanted a deeper perspective. That’s when I started reading Edward Hallowell’s book Delivered from Distraction and–are you still with me–that’s when I learned that ADD and Love Addiction are intertwined.

Hallowell states that statistically, ADDers have the highest ratio of addicts. That includes alcoholics, drug addicts, love addicts, overeaters, and so on. Why? Part of the reason, he explains, is that ADDers have an “itch” they need to scratch. That a typical trait of someone with attention deficit disorder is not only impulsivity (jumping into to bed with someone way before it’s reasonable, falling in love fast, etc.) but boredom– a sense that getting into a little trouble (or getting high off love) is the perfect remedy for a massive desire to feel ALIVE.

This concept nearly blew me away. I was chronically “bored” as a kid. I was always in need of something or someone to make me feel alive. I was withdrawn and inattentive in class, got F’s all the time in high school (later in life I went on to graduate college Magna cum laude, but it took years to finally hunker down and finish school), and I would constantly start something and never finish it (I hate to say it, but this post almost didn’t make it. I am still the same way). And yet, I was never disorganized or hyperactive or forgetful, so I never considered myself ADD. But the truth is, whether I am or not, I know I have some of the characteristics of ADD and it is a great direction to go in to learn more about myself.

I felt it was important to share this with you all as well. I’m certainly not suggesting that all love addicts have ADD. But, if you are a love addict, take a look at your history. Question whether or not there may be a correlation. Can you relate to feeling the overwhelming need to scratch an unidentifiable “itch”? If anything, read the chapter in Delivered from Distraction called “The Itch at the Core of ADD” I have a gut feeling this will resonate with many! And by all means, let me know your thoughts!!!

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11 thoughts on “Scratching the “itch”

    1. Yes, I have suspected for a couple of years or more that I have ADD. Previously I suspected something was wrong but didn’t want to face it. I feared it would interfere with employment if I had a label of disability attached to me. Now, I have no way of getting tested but I would like to face it now. Thanks for reminding me……I’m constantly forgetting important things for a while………I’ve always been that way.

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  1. FYI: Just back-linked this to “Can this ADDer be Saved?” — a serialized article in magazine format on ADDandSoMuchMore.com — describing the ADD Coaching process of two best friends with very different styles. Check it out!
    ~~~~~
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    (blogs: ADDandSoMuchMore, ADDerWorld & ethosconsultancynz – dot com)
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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  2. I had the same suspicion so I googled “inattentive add and love addiction” and your post was the top result. After reading your post I see clearly that my ADHD (inattentive type) and love addiction are intertwined. I find myself motivated primarily by approval from others and by a foolish intense notion of love. The types of romantic relationships I often get into are the challenging ones that stimulate me but at the same time give me unrest or what Hallowell calls the “itch.” I hope to read more in your blog to better understand this love addiction and how to cope with it. Thank you.

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  3. Thank you for this post! I’m 46, married (now separated) and had an emotional affair with a married man earlier this year, causing heart break, confusion, guilt. I googled “addicted to people” and learned about codependency, then learned about love addiction (I’ve had 39 cases in my life) and now recognize myself as ADD from the self diagnosis tests. It has been such a relief to understand these three concepts and what makes me tick – I think especially the ADD connection. Because I have “hyper focus” I did do well at school (having LA infatuations with all my teachers and professors from age 15 up through grad school actually helped me focus). This hyper focus has also helped my career. I realize that my husband must have ADD too. I’ve cycled through other addictive behaviors (cigarettes, work addiction etc.) and feel good to be in recovery now. Food, excercise, mindfullness, journaling, new verve toward housework, trying to be more present as a parent, avoiding Candycrush, and I’ve found somatic therapy (psychotherapy + body work to release old emotions that messed up our autonomic nervous system and created a type of PTSD response in daily life) all help. It will be a tough journey but ultimately so rewarding. So glad to read your accounts of recovery. Keep writing!

    A fun ADHD self diagnosis test is here: http://www.drhallowell.com/blog/adhd-self-assessment-quiz-2/

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  4. Have you ever taken medication or herbs to treat your ADHD symptoms? If so, did they also bring relief from love addiction? I currently take l-tyrosine and gingko biloba which increase dopamine in the brain, but it is too early to see results.
    The fact of the matter is that love addiction may be due to lack of dopamine in the brain and supplementing dopamine might provide some relief.

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