Most severe substance use disorders (SUDs) are connected with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other mental health problems. Therapeutic communities (TCs) provide a suitable option for the treatment of severe SUDs. The relationship between ADHD, the severity of the SUD, and other comorbidities in residential TCs is unknown.
To estimate the prevalence of ADHD among clients with an SUD in residential rehab, and to compare the mental health of clients with and without ADHD.
A cohort study was conducted in 5 residential TCs (N = 180, 76.7% male, 53.9% 25-34 years, 79.2% diagnosed with methamphetamine use disorder). We assessed ADHD symptoms, substance use, mental health problems, and psychiatric symptoms.
ADHD was found in 51% of the clients who showed significantly higher scores for their psychiatric status composite score (ASI-PSY) (F = 9.08, p < 0.001; t = 5.05, p < 0.001), the positive psychiatric symptoms total (SCL-PST) (F = 3.36, p < 0.05; t = 3.15, p < 0.01), and the global severity index (SCL-GSI) (F = 3.27, p < 0.05; t = 3.18, p < 0.01). The ASI-PSY and SCL correlated significantly with the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (Pearson's r's = 0.30-0.42, p's < 0.001) and the symptoms of hyperactivity disorder (r's = 0.24-0.30, p's < 0.01). Even when severity of substance use was accounted for, ADHD was confirmed as a significant predictor of ASI-PSY (B= 0.14, p < 0.001 for combined disorder; B = 0.20, p < 0.001 for attention disorder) and partially of SCL-PST (B = 8.12, p < 0.05 for attention disorder).
The ADHD prevalence in TCs was nearly 10-fold compared to the globally recorded values. ADHD diagnostic procedures and interventions should become an integral part of the standard diagnostic and treatment process.

© 2020 The Author(s) Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.