According to one estimate, about 7.5 percent of the population has ADHD. That’s a lot. So where are all these people?

The short answer is that they’re everywhere. They’re in every job you can name, they’re in every school. They’re your colleagues at work. They’re sharing the roads with you – if that’s not enough to make you supportive of ADHD treatment, I’m not sure what is.


     Neil Petersen    Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

Editor:  Nadeem Noor


Of course, some places tend to have a higher concentration of ADHDers than others. Here are three of them:

  • Rehab: A recent study of 240 people seeking treatment for substance use in Southern India found that 56 percent of the patients screened as having “likely ADHD” and 22 percent as having “highly likely ADHD.” And this is only the latest in a string of studies done all over the world to find a strong association between ADHD and drug use. Both people with ADHD and addicts tend to have brains that process rewards in atypical ways, which could explain why there’s so much overlap between the two conditions. In any case, treating the underlying ADHD is often one of the first steps to treating the substance abuse.
  • Prison: A survey of 315 long-term prison inmates found that 40 percent appeared to have adult ADHD. It’s not clear why people in prison are so much more likely to have ADHD, but impulse control problems are one possible reason. Regardless, this stat really drives home the social cost of untreated ADHD.
  • Startups: OK, 1 of the 3 places is a good one. Multiple researchers (for example, here and here) have highlighted the link between ADHD and entrepreneurship. People with ADHD are also more likely to be self-employed. Although traits like impulsiveness and low boredom tolerance can land people with ADHD in rehab, they can also make ADHDers drawn to stimulating environments and high-risk-high-reward tasks like starting businesses.

From prison inmates to entrepreneurs, the life stories of different people with ADHD can turn out very differently. The fact that people with ADHD are overrepresented in all three of these different places shows that while ADHDers share the same general symptoms, finding the right treatment, the right coping strategies, the right environment and, yes, the right luck can make a big difference in how those symptoms play out in everyday life.

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