It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

“Is There a Connection”


Is there a connection between ODD and the use of drugs and alcohol?

I believe there can be a connection, although not necessarily in a direct sense. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a condition of young people exclusively, while the use and abuse of drugs (even prescribed medications) and alcohol is more attributed to adults, or “near” adults. The connection is the need for soothing. The desire to be soothed in difficult moments is not defined by age. Babies need it; adults need it.

Have you ever known a truly ODD youngster whose life was in place, who was authentically happy and was functioning well? Of course not. (If they were doing that well, they wouldn’t be ODD.) The very fact that ODD kids consistently and repeatedly destroy their own outcomes (one condition of the diagnosis) essentially assures they will not be happy. (They can tell you they are happy; but the facts point to a different truth.)

I believe most ODD youngsters need and want to be soothed. They might not do it with drugs and alcohol, but they do it with a focus on things and activities of distraction.

I had a patient once who started bouncing up and down as our session came to a close.

“Why are you bouncing like that?” I asked him.

“Because I’m going to get a TOY, a TOY! I’m going to get a TOY!”

His mother had coaxed him to my office with the promise of a toy before they went home. It was the only thing he could focus on as we were wrapping up. It’s like he was “addicted” to how a new toy would make him feel, although Mom assured me the toy would be completely demolished before he ever got home with it.

If you were to fast-forward this boy’s life 10-15 years, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see where abuse of drugs and alcohol could be a real possibility. And just how stable do you think his relationships would be at that point?

This is precisely why early intervention is so important.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
(800) 659-6628 Email:


May 10, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
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