Combating Compulsion and Breaking Bad Habits

Hi everyone. New here. Recently discovered How to ADHD videos and they’ve helped oh so much. I was also surprised to find a really positive community of/for people with ADHD!

That said, I have a question for one of the greatest ongoing battles I’ve had with ADHD. Any tips/input/suggestions for breaking compulsive tendencies? I’ll be up front about it, thanks to the anonymity of the internet. I have a serious nail biting issue that I’ve noticed is exacerbated during moments where I’m hyper-focused on something, whether it is homework, a show, etc. I’m currently medicated as well (15 mg adderall/ x2 a day) and when the medication is in my system- the habit only gets WORSE, or temporarily swapped out with another bad habit (teeth grinding/jaw clenching are two common substitutes). I can’t help but reflect on the immense oral fixation I have that’s linked to whenever I start to get focused on something.

I’ve tried bitter nailpolishes, filing my nails and keeping them neat and clean, and so on. But nothing I do seems to work. I just want to be able to not hide my hands when I’m around people. Any suggestions to solve this issue? And does anyone else struggle with reigning in compulsive tendencies that have been melded in alongside other ADHD struggles/quirks?

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Hello! I do the jaw clenching myself. Have you seen about a chewy pendent? Oreo Cookie Chewy

Also, I set alarms for myself that go off during the day just in case I’m hyperfocusing on something and then I look at my self-care checklist to see if I need to do anything.

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Hello, I don’t know your gender, but have you though about getting your nails done professionally. Sometimes I am less likely to bite or mess with my nails if they look like nice. You could also reward yourself with something every day you don’t bite your nails, or get something to help get that energy out, like a fidget toy. I have a fidget ring that I like to spin. You could also train yourself to do a less destructive habit like tapping on something.

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the chewy placebo looks promising! will check it out. thank you again!

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I’m a guy, and have no issue with the idea of going to get my nails dont professionally. It’s just hard because I consistently keep them so low, I don’t think they could do much. my plan is once i’m able to break the habit enough to grow them back a bit- to go more regularly and keep them neat (to avoid a repeat).

Will try out your suggestions! Thank you again!

I don’t clench, but I feel like the cookie chewy would help me release energy. I do suspect that I clench in my sleep, because my molars are sometimes a bit sore when I eat breakfast. The pain goes away fairly quickly though, leading me to believe that I was clenching shortly before waking.

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Compulsions are not ADHD. You might have a comorbid disorder. Those words sound bad but it’s not. They are like mental health cousins

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Oh I’ve got similar problems I always bite my nails for no reason or if they are slightly uneven cause if I bite one everyone one else is getting bitten I have the habit of clenching as well so I have to put my tongue between my teeth to just be a reminder to not do it

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There is more research going into body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) and ADHD (see https://www.additudemag.com/body-focused-repetitive-behaviors-adhd-depression-anxiety/). My son and wife both are nail pickers, but both exhibit signs of ADHD and OCD (with my son diagnosed with ADHD, and the doctor practically diagnosed OCD).

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You might also look into Sensory Processing Disorder. My young son has this, and SPD is often a co-morbid condition with ADHD. In my son’s case he seeks out certain sensory input for comfort. Nail biting and chewing on pencils/pens are an oral sensory seeking behavior, so the chew necklace might be a good experiment. I chew (my nails, my knuckles, pens and pencils) and my son chews as well. Here’s a little more about it.

Now most information talks only about SPD in kids, but as an adult, now that I’ve been learning about it in relation to my son, I recognize my own sensory seeking tendencies, both current and when I was younger. For example: when I was young I used to eat my hair. I don’t know why and the idea disgusts me now, but I did. I still bite my nails. I also used to roll my eyes back in my head. My teacher thought I was having Pettite Mal seizures. On the day my mother took me to the neurologist to have it checked out, she saw me do the behavior. (My eyes roll back so only the whites show. It’s pretty disturbing looking I’m told.) She asked me why I was doing that, and I told her I was just resting or stretching my eyes. It was the best way I could describe it. I like the sensation I feel when I rol my eyes back that far, although I’ve since grown out of doing this. LOL.

Just a thought. I think sensory seeking behavior and tics and such are very common in people with ADHD. But don’t try to “cure” it. Just try to find a better outlet for getting that sensory feeling, or find some other way to soothe whatever feelings are causing you to seek the comfort of that sensory experience. If you feel the need for pressure on your jaw and teeth, maybe try to redirect that to a chew necklace instead of your nails.

Uh…also, not a doctor. This is only from my own experience.

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Thank you so much for sharing, I found this information very helpful. I pick my nails. At times so badly I would start bleeding I still would keep going until I got that last piece I just wouldn’t stopped. Happens more when I’m reading a lot of information I’m trying to learn and sometimes when I’m listening to someone like a speaker and I’m again having to pay attention. But I tried hiding and keeping it to a minimal when I was around people. When I was by myself that’s when I get all into it And can’t sometimes stop

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Thank you for sharing as well. I’ve noticed similar patterns for nail biting & picking. Both on/off medications, whenever I start to read or get enthralled in something it becomes a subconcious/concious habit. Unfortunately, the ‘teether’ / biting supplemental others recommended doesn’t always work. Personalliy, it gave me a lot of jaw discomfort, so proceed at your own risk if you try that out. I’ve had a few relapses lately, but hearing your experience helps me feel less isolated in this so I feel re-motivated once more!

It’s BFRB. Hard as hell to battle, take my word for it, I have it too. So the question for getting rid of it is more a question about getting it under control and take minute by minute away from the time spent doing it. I’ve gone from up to 15 hours a day to just around 3 when stress levels are at the worse.

Huh. Okay, so I read the article about BFRBs, and it is totally spot on for me. I exhibit every single BFRB they mention in the article, although some to lesser extent than others. It’s a pretty fascinating article. In my case, I’m not sufficiently hampered by the behaviors to seek treatment, but they’re definitely part of my life.

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