Let’s Play “Adult ADHD: The Drinking Game!”

Can you concentrate long enough to win?

A study released this week by Boston Children’s Hospital and the Mayo Clinic offers clinical evidence of something plenty of folks with ADD/ADHD already knew: The disorder often persists well into adulthood. In fact, the study’s lead investigator William Barbaresi, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital, said in a statement:

“We suffer from the misconception that ADHD is just an annoying childhood disorder that’s overtreated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to have a chronic disease approach to ADHD as we do for diabetes. The system of care has to be designed for the long haul.”

This isn’t just because the disorder lasts but because it can have rather severe implications, including other psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, even a higher risk of suicide. While some news outlets are focusing on the issue of negative impact of the illness on adulthood (“Majority of kids with ADHD face mental health woes as adults, study shows”), others are emphasizing the illness’ persistence (“Adults with a lack of focus could have ADHD“), with a tip of the hat to those who aren’t diagnosed until they’re adults—which is what happened to me and a couple of friends. Now we find it amusing to compare notes—sometimes in the company of alcohol.

For those who don’t know if they have adult ADHD, I’ve designed a drinking game that’s sure to be revelatory. For those who do have it, this game will provide a support group environment and some hearty laughs.

2+ players with diagnosed ADHD
Pack of “ADHD Has Screwed Up My Life!” cards
Screwdriver cocktails
2 dice

Sit in a circle, put cards in the center face-down.
Players take turns picking up cards, then enumerate ADHD screw-ups according to card topic. Winner of the round gets to dictate drinking terms. Example:

Card says: TAXES
Player 1: “I was five months late paying my taxes once.”
Player 2: “I didn’t pay at all one year.”
Player 3: “I didn’t pay for three years in a row then had to get my parents’ accountant to come over and dig up all my old W-2s and send in the stuff for me.”
Player 3 wins the round, and can now choose to drink herself or make someone else drink.

Player 1: “I never follow the instructions on the tag; I just throw it into the washer.”
Player 2: “I buy clothing, wear it once, put it in a ‘dry cleaning’ pile, and then never take it to be cleaned and never wear it again.”
Player 3: “I took clothing to the dry cleaner once but never picked it up. That was 15 years ago in Chicago.”
In this case, players 2 and 3 are well-matched. Time to roll the dice for the tie-breaker. Player to the right of the high roller drinks.

Card says: LATENESS
Player 1: “I’m always late for everything, and my friends hate me for it.”
Player 2: “I’ve missed countless important professional opportunities because I was unable to get to a meeting on time.”
Player 3: “I overslept and didn’t make it to the brunch the day after my daughter’s wedding even though I was in the same hotel.”
Player 3 is a cad, but the group understands him, so we all offer a toast.

**Special ADHD Journalist Bonus Round!**
Card says: DEADLINES
Player 1: “I pitch one story per week to my editor but only follow through on one per year.”
Player 2: “I write and file my copy within minutes of its being due even if I could have written it five times over in the days and weeks before that.”
Player 3: “I don’t pitch freelance pieces because I don’t want to have a bad reputation for not hitting deadlines.”
All these poor souls are already drowning their troubles in alcohol. Give them some M&Ms.

There are more cards in the game, but my deadline on this post is right now so I’m just going to drop it in my editor’s lap and run away. I’ll leave it to the more organized among you to take it to the next level.

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  • Nate

    Yes a real riot! I think someone from your background would be little bit more sensitive. We with ADHD to not find the panic attacks when we can’t find our keys, the work missed assignments, getting lost in a new city, anything to joke about. Maybe we don’t a commercial with our dog wanting to play catch like you all depression folks have but ADHD is a daily struggle. Shame on you Liz

    • Liz Spikol

      Nate, I’m guessing you didn’t notice that I said I have ADHD myself. That’s why I joked about it–which is also my strategy for writing about depression much of the time. We have to be able to laugh about our illnesses, don’t we? After all, self-pity is so bad for the skin.

  • Violet

    I love this, as someone only diagnosed with ADHD last autumn after struggling through her undergraduate education for 7 years. If only I knew more adults with ADHD, I would be playing this tonight. The part about lateness rings especially true…

  • Coach Linda Richmand, CPC, PCC

    As an adult ADD/ADHD Coach, I can imagine many adult ADDers enjoyed reading this article and learning they are not alone! The first step toward combating ADD symptoms is to embrace them. Once a client stops saying “I will remember next time,” for example, coaches can work with the client to incorporate tools that make his/her memory deficit obsolete. ADD/ADHD Coaching is an empowering tool for successful adult ADDers who want to move forward in the workplace, relationships or any other area of their lives. For more information see http://www.coachrichmand.com