ADHD linked to increased nicotine dependence

October 24, 2008

Young people with ADHD may be at increased risk of becoming addicted to tobacco, according to a report in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Young people with ADHD may be at increased risk of becoming addicted to tobacco, according to a report in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed responses to questionnaires from boys and girls ages 15 to 25, including 80 respondents with ADHD and 86 controls. Results showed that 69% of the participants with ADHD had smoked, and 41% were current smokers, only 44% of control participants had smoked, and only 17% were current smokers. In addition, ADHD participants who smoked began using tobacco a year and a half sooner than control participants did, and moderate or higher levels of nicotine dependence were reported by 21% of the participants with ADHD, compared with 1% of controls.

The researchers suggested that the interaction between the dopamine system and the cholinergic system may be a biological mechanism underlying the link between ADHD and nicotine dependence.