Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jan 2018
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Rita Giordano, Staff Writer


A new multi-site study has found that children with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to engage in substance
use than youngsters without the disorder and had higher rates of
marijuana and cigarette use going into adulthood.

The study's takeaway message, suggested lead author Brooke Molina,
should be that parents of children with ADHD need to keep in touch
with their children's activities and friends, even into the teenage

"They should keep their antenna up," said Molina, a psychiatry
professor with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

In addition, the researchers say, routine health care providers should
include early screening and intervention to help prevent substance
abuse among ADHD youngsters.

The study, published in the current Journal of Child Psychology and
Psychiatry, followed boys and girls with ADHD and their non-ADHD peers
from six health centers in the United States and one in Canada,
assessing them at regular intervals over 16 years. The average
starting age for study participants was 10.

The researchers found about 58 percent of the ADHD group engaged in
adolescent substance use, including alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and
other drugs, compared with 42 percent of the youngsters without ADHD.

Because of the findings, Molina said, more study is needed to learn
how many young drinkers with ADHD have serious, chronic problems with
alcohol as they get older.

In adulthood, the ADHD participants had slightly higher rates of
weekly heavy alcohol use or monthly illicit drug use, while their
cigarette smoking and marijuana use was significantly higher.

Weekly marijuana use was about 33 percent for the ADHD participants in
their early adulthood years, compared with 21 percent of the non-ADHD
study subjects. The difference in the daily cigarette smoking rate was
even greater -- about 36 percent for the ADHD adults and 17.5 percent
for those without ADHD.

However, the study did have some hopeful findings regarding youngsters
with ADHD, many of whom are prescribed stimulant medication.

Less than 2 percent of the study participants were misusing stimulants
or using cocaine as young adults, Molina said.

"You would think they would go for drugs that are like the stimulant
medication," she said. "The good news is, we're not seeing that."

Molina also said their research found that there is "no evidence their
treatment increased their substance risk." However, the study authors
suggest the increased risk of substance use may be due to ADHD and its
symptoms – one of which is a tendency to be impulsive.

"Impulsivity has been shown for years to be a risk factor for
substance abuse," Molina said.

In addition, some youngsters with ADHD, even if they are taking
medication, may still have difficulties with school performance and
social coping.

"Students and teenagers that don't do well in school tend to pull away
from those conventional, healthily engaged activities we like to see
our teenagers involved in," Molina said. "Then they are at risk for
gravitating to more unhealthy activities that include drug and alcohol

More reasons for parents to continue to monitor their youngsters and
keep in touch with their lives, the authors said.
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