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Teens with ADHD Have Higher Likelihood of Substance Abuse

By February 27, 2013May 26th, 2015No Comments

ADHD is a mental disorder that is common in children.  It is estimated that up to five percent of children throughout the globe are affected by it, and as many as half of these youths will have symptoms that persist into adulthood. In one of the largest studies to date on adolescent ADHD, researchers have also uncovered a strong link between the condition and use of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.

The study involved researchers from six health centers across the country in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Over the course of eight years, investigators analyzed close to 600 children as they transitioned into adulthood. The study is the first to uncover the higher prevalence of tobacco use amongst ADHD-teens. And, as a PsychCentral article on the subject points out, cigarette use is often tied to use of alcohol and marijuana.

Lead study author, Dr. Brook Molina says that findings highlight the fact that both girls and boys with ADHD are at higher risk for substance abuse than other children without ADHD. Researchers uncovered that when affected teens reached about 15 years of age, over a third admittedly were engaging in some form of substance use as opposed to only 20 percent of their non-ADHD peers.

Not surprisingly, high rates of alcohol use were common in teens of both groups. However, marijuana and tobacco consumption was significantly higher in those with ADHD. Marijuana use was nearly twice as prevalent in ADHD participants with an average age of 17 as it was in other teens, with usage rates at 13 and 7 percent respectively. Additionally, daily cigarette intake for the ADHD group was 17 percent, whereas the non-ADHD group only had 8 percent that smoked every day by comparison.

Results of the study suggest that children with ADHD are likely to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to compensate for problems caused by the disease. Early diagnosis is key, and mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center offer screenings daily.

Experts agree that there are many ways to minimize negative outcomes from the disorder. If you have a child with ADHD, contact the Family Guidance Center to learn more about managing the symptoms for a healthy, quality life.