-- Alan Mozes
WEDNESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Boys and girls diagnosed
with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face a
significantly higher risk of developing a substance abuse problem
-- including cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, new research
"Our study, which is one of the largest set of longitudinal studies of this issue to date, supports the association between ADHD and substance abuse found in several earlier studies and shows that the increased risk cannot be accounted for by co-existing factors such as other psychiatric disorders or family history of substance abuse," lead author Dr. Timothy Wilens, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said in a news release from Massachusetts General Hospital.
"Overall, study participants diagnosed with ADHD had a one-and-a-half times greater risk of developing substance abuse than did control participants," he added.
Wilens, who is also with the Massachusetts General Hospital
Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit in Boston, and his colleagues
reported the findings in the June issue of the
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent
The current observations stem from a fresh look at data that had
been previously collected by two studies exploring psychiatric and
behavioral problems among a total of 268 children diagnosed with
ADHD. One of the studies had focused on boys, while the other
looked at the experience of ADHD girls.
The research team found that nearly one-third of the children
developed some form of substance abuse problem over the course of a
decade of tracking.
Among a similar number of children who did not have ADHD, only
about one-quarter of the children developed similar issues with
cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.
Although neither gender nor a family history of substance abuse
played a role in risk elevation, "conduct disorder" did boost the
risk threefold, the investigators found.
"Anyone with ADHD needs to be counseled about the risk for substance abuse, particularly if they have any delinquency," advised Wilens, in the news release. "We still need to understand why some kids with ADHD develop substance abuse and others don't, whether particular treatment approaches can prevent substance problems and how best to treat young adults that have both ADHD and substance abuse."
For more on ADHD, visit the
U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
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