ADHD Stimulants Not Related to Drug Abuse

March 4, 2008

The use of stimulant treatment in male children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) wasn't associated with an increased or decreased risk of later substance use disorder, according to research published online March 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

TUESDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- The use of stimulant treatment in male children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) wasn't associated with an increased or decreased risk of later substance use disorder, according to research published online March 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Joseph Biederman, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a 10-year follow-up study of 112 white males, mean age 22, who had been diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers collected information on subjects' lifetime use of nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, opiates and other drugs during interviews.

The researchers report that 73 percent of subjects had been treated with stimulants at some point, and 22 percent had been receiving stimulants within a month of the follow-up. The investigators found no statistically significant associations between stimulant treatment and risk of alcohol, nicotine or other drug use disorders. However, among subjects with alcohol abuse, subjects who'd received stimulant treatment had a longer duration of alcohol abuse.

"The results in the present study converge with previous studies toward helping to alleviate concerns among clinicians about future substance use disorder problems when prescribing stimulants to children with ADHD. Future research should focus on more salient predictors and moderators of substance use disorder risk in male patients with ADHD and extend these findings to minority and female samples of ADHD patients," the authors conclude.

Biederman and three co-authors report financial relationships with a number of pharmaceutical companies.

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