Medical News: ADHD Increases Risk of Substance Use Disorders - in Pediatrics, ADHD/ADD from MedPage Today

Medical News: ADHD Increases Risk of Substance Use Disorders - in Pediatrics, ADHD/ADD from MedPage Today

Another study confirms that what most people think, that ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) medications lead to substance abuse. Often parents, relatives and the general public think this because they see one or two teens who have used medication become involved in drug use later in life, especially when leaving the structure of high school and leaving for college. But the story isn't as simple as some may think.

Overall studies have shown that kids, teens and adults with ADHD have an increased risk of substance abuse. This may be caused by any number of reasons, and sometimes we hear its a result of "self-medication." So far there is really no research that supports that line of reasoning. More likely it is simply related to the person with ADHD being involved in risk taking behaviour, one of the hallmarks of ADHD. Those with ADHD are more likely to engage in behaviour that is risky, and stimulus producing. This is one of the reasons many medical doctors suggest that medication is "life medication" rather than "school medication" as some parents see it. The ADHD medication helps reduce the chance of the individual becoming involved in risky behaviour. And most risky behaviour (ranging from taking too many chances at sports to not looking when crossing the street) takes place all day long, not just in school. As a matter of fact, school and home often provide structure that in and of itself reduces risky behaviour.

Back to ADHD and substance abuse. So far what research has shown is that individuals taking ADHD medication are less likely to engage in "risky behaviour" and that includes substance abuse. Those who have ADHD and are not on medication (when it is appropriate, a decision to make with your medical provider) are part of this general pool of individuals who have a higher risk.

So, if your worried that your child will turn to substance use because of medication, there is no evidence of this. As a matter of fact, the evidence is the opposite. If your child, teen or young adult is of concern, and you worry and suspect that he or she might be susceptible to substance abuse, deal with that with supportive therapy and have a frank discussion with your doctor. There are specific choices of medication that, to be frank, can't be used to get high, and aren't going to be sold on campus. Talk to your doctor about those concerns as he or she can address them with a change of medication.

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