Teenagers with ADHD are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, with cannabis a particular problem
Teenagers with the hyperactivity disorder ADHD are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, new research has found.
A study discovered contrary to previous findings current medications for the condition do not counter the risk for substance abuse among adolescents.
Scientists believed that a side effect of taking the prescribed medicines lowered the chance of teenagers drinking or taking drugs.
But new research claims there is a 'significantly higher prevalence' of alcoholism and cannabis smoking among young ADHD sufferers.
They also claim that cigarette smoking was nine per cent higher in ADHD teens than youths did not have it.
Professor Brooke Molina, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, led the study of 600 children over an eight year period.
The aim was to discover if children with ADHD have an increased risk of substance use and abuse or dependence in adolescence.
The researchers found that when the subjects were an average of 15 years-old, 35 per cent admitted using one or more substances, compared with 20 per cent of non-ADHD teens.
By the age of 17, cannabis use was 'particularly problematic', with 13 per cent hooked compared to three per cent of teenagers without the condition.
Daily smoking was 'very high' at 17 per cent which, claims Professor Molina, is much higher than the U.S. national average.
But alcohol abuse was high in both groups suggesting that underage drinking was a common occurrence for teenagers in general.
But alcohol abuse was high among all teenagers in the study, suggesting underage drinking is a common occurrence for teenagers in general
Professor Molina said: 'This study underscores the significance of the substance abuse risk for both boys and girls with childhood ADHD.
'These findings also are the strongest test to date of the association between medication for ADHD and teenage substance abuse.'
At least two per cent of children in the UK are thought to have ADHD and diagnosis usually occurs between the ages of three and seven.
Symptoms include a short attention span, restlessness or constant fidgeting and being easily distracted.
In contrast to current thinking, Professor Molina found that substance abuse rates were no different in children being treated with medication for ADHD than those who were not.
That has prompted a call for a new approach to substance abuse prevention and treatment methods for boys and girls with ADHD.
Professor Molina added: 'We are working hard to understand the reasons why children with ADHD have increased risk of drug abuse.
'Our hypotheses, partly supported by our research and that of others, is that impulsive decision making, poor school performance, and difficulty making healthy friendships all contribute.
'Some of this is biologically driven because we know that ADHD runs in families. However, similar to managing high blood pressure or obesity, there are non-medical things we can do to decrease the risk of a bad outcome.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2277605/Teenagers-ADHD-likely-abuse-drugs-alcohol-theyre-given-medication.html#ixzz2KiJTHV9m
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