Study: Kids With ADHD More Likely to Develop Substance Abuse Problems

Data collected from two previous studies suggests children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are far more likely to become dependent on certain substances, including alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.

The studies revealed that kids with ADHD were one and a half times more likely to develop substance dependent behaviors, and a third of the children in the study eventually exhibited the substance issues. 268 children were studied- one study dealt with girls with ADHD, and the other measured boys who had the condition.

Dr. Timothy Wilens, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, commented on the study in a news release:

“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.”

Family history and gender did not impact the results, but the presence of a “conduct disorder” did. Only a quarter of the kids who did not have conduct disorders developed substance abuse issues, versus the third who were diagnosed with ADHD as children.