Kids With ADHD Face Greater Risk of Substance Abuse

Filed under: In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, Special Needs

ADHD substance abuse

Your kids could have substance abuse problems if they have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Credit: Getty

Your child is one and a half times more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol if he or she ...

Wow. Angelina Jolie only weighs 99 pounds now? That's insane. How does Brad feel about that?

Wait a minute. What we're we talking about? Something about drugs and alcohol. Oh, right. Your kids could have substance abuse problems if they have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Kids with ADHD are fidgety and easily distracted, but U.S. News & World Report says researchers still don't know how that relates to increased drinking and smoking. However, the link is undeniable.

"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 Timothy Wilens, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says 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 adds.

Interesting. On the other hand, Wilens' statement was more than 60 words long. Anyone with ADHD quit reading after "longitudinal."

Wilens and his colleagues looked at data on behavioral and psychiatric problems in 268 kids with ADHD. They found nearly a third of them had substance abuse problems. A family history of drug problems wasn't a factor either, Wilens tells U.S. News & World Report.

"Anyone with ADHD needs to be counseled about the risk for substance abuse, particularly if they have any delinquency," Wilens says 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."

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